Please note that this post is NOT a review of the eBook Hard Lessons by Sommer Marsden, although you can purchase the ebook by clicking on the cover. This non-affiliate link is being provided because the cover image fits today’s post so well.
I’ve heard it said that life’s hardest lessons are the ones which you don’t quite grasp and have to keep learning again and again. I am learning today. What is funny is that the lessons I learned today are actually all things I quite thought i had mastered long ago. I’d like to think I have always kept the really important lessons like “always keep your word” and “never talk down about someone behind their back”. But clearly I forgot some other lessons like “always get it in writing” and “don’t spend money until you’ve nailed the whole thing down”.
All of my real friends are still my real friends this morning. People who have come to regard me as honest and honorable over the course of the past 47 years or so I’ve been on this planet still know me to be an honest and honorable person. (I guess I also didn’t forget the lesson about who really gets dirty when you start throwing mud.) Putting on a hat doesn’t make one a cowboy. And it seems that even writing a brilliant book is far from enough to make one a published author. In my humble opinion, what authors should most look for in a publisher is someone whom they trust. Bringing a book along from a manuscript into actual readers hands is a unique process that takes a great deal of trust between writer and publisher. And if that trust just is not there, it is not possible for the relationship to work.
I will continue to read manuscripts that come my way. I will find books to publish and make money from publishing. I won’t spend any time crying over spilled milk. I won’t let anyone else’s bad behavior inspire me to behave badly. I suppose I should most be grateful that this deal fell apart before I spent more money than I did. If you have no idea what this post is in reference to, I made a brief statement on Libdrone Books Facebook page. That will be my only comment regarding this matter.
I remarked to a friend yesterday that my meeting and getting a publishing agreement with Biljana Petrova may very well prove to be as momentous as say, the meeting of Margaret Mitchell and her publisher for Gone With The Wind. And yes, I’m well aware that this sounds, almost certainly like some bit of boasting or way overstating the case. And yet.
I genuinely believe that like Ms. Mitchell, whose novel brought home the realities of the US Civil War to a huge global audience, Biljana may prove to be the literary voice of a generation of people from what used to be called the Socialist Federal Republic of Jugoslavija. I believe that Biljana has the voice and the vision to pull off an historical novel every bit as big as Gone With The Wind. I realize of course that there is no guarantee that she will write this magnum opus which I envision. And yet it seems palpably real to me, like the ghostly Miss Espresso whom I feel certain I would always just miss, if I were to try to track her down in real life, rather than in the magical pages of Black And White.
I am taking my time with this. I have forwarded the manuscript to two very trusted good friends, and will not proceed until I have heard back from both of them. I know from my own experience that Black And White, although a short book, is most certainly Not a quick and easy read. It is the sort of book one savors and re-reads bits of several times before meandering on. I have also consulted with a book designer and am going to see if we can not improve upon the book cover image. I believe that Black And White is the first of several books that are destined to be huge, enduring best sellers. I think I just grabbed a tiger by the tale. The trick now is to hang on.
The really bad thing about knowing too many quotes is that after a time you can continue to spout quote after quote, but you haven’t a clue where they have come from. If only that were the secret to original writing. “And sometimes there’s God….so quickly.”
I find myself thinking today that Biljana is actually a very wise woman. On the one hand, I am thrilled. I have been given license to publish and promote this incredibly wonderful book, written by a woman who seems smart enough to keep her clever publisher at arm’s length. Which means that she probably is Not going to want to have endless discussions about the promotions. I have her snail mail, we’ve agreed on terms. I’ll certainly be sending her checks as I sell her books. But I do not have to clear everything with a temperamental artiste who is also a friend. I seem to have pretty free reign to decide and do it My Way.
I find myself wishing I knew just a bit more about the stories of some other incredibly great writers making a life-changing agreement with her first publisher. Cause I’m pretty sure that the work I am about to introduce to you is as significant as any that global literary society has seen in a long time. So the fact that I have landed this book is actually HUGE. Although of course it will take 10 years of hard work to turn it into “an overnight success”. But if you have any appreciation for the art and craft of fiction, I know you will want to read this book. And if you read my blog regularly, you’ll soon find out that I will even let you read Black And White for free.
I spent most of the day copy editing Black And White. While it is in fact a novela, Biljana brings to the crafting of each line of prose, a poet’s extreme care and craftsmanship in the choice or each word and the construction of each phrase.
Most of the editing was simply a matter of deleting formatting which does not work for eBooks, and especially manually removing every extraneous hard return and page break (an eBook is one long uninterrupted stream of text). I plan to completely set the manuscript aside for the next 24–48 hours so as to be able to read it with a somewhat fresher eye. I am also recruiting a couple of beta readers to give it a final once over. But the process of turning Black And White from a manuscript into an eBook is well under way.
It appears that Biljana needs to be offline for awhile. I know that she has been concerned by the amount of time that social networking sometimes takes away from time spent writing, working and living. I can’t promise you when Biljana will again answer fan mail or pop in to her blog to post a picture or say hello. But the publication of Black And White will definitely continue. And I will for now hope that the day will come that Biljana will decide to log in again and say hello. Or at the very least that she continue to write and allow me to publish such amazing books. In which case she is more than welcome to skip Facebook and Twitter and let me handle marketing her work.