In An Incoming Tide the protagonist, Estelle, is hit by a succession of adverse events. Finally, one overwhelms her. She’s broken. My publishable 300 pages leaves her shaken. I suspect my readers had been cheering for her, eager that she’d be okay. But they are left with, well, you know … (or will, once you have read the book!)
I had no idea that was also going to be the plot line for my publishing journey.
Sunny skies and a sense of buoyancy marked the early stages of the publication process. The editor’s evaluation of the first draft was very encouraging. She got the story and believed in me as a writer. But there was a reality I had to deal with—cutting what was a 450 page novel to 300. I found a way of doing that, one that I really came to love.
And there was the quick settling on a fabulous cover for the novel. Wow, what a great visual image for the book. Buoyancy indeed.
An edit and a proofread corrected many writing glitches. Then the novel was back to me for any needed finishing touches. Just a few more editing passes and it was off for reviews, reviews purchased through companies that provide that service.
The reviews were to provide positive comments that would be useful for the marketing of the book. They didn’t. One, and then the other a month later, knocked me off my feet, as if hit by two powerful waves. Both of them contained errors in their plot synopsis. Neither of them caught the meaning and depth of the story. It was devastating that they could get it so wrong.
Once I had picked myself up, brushed myself off, I poured over those reviews to start all over again. Starting all over again didn’t mean a re-write, but it did mean some very focused editing. In retrospect, those awful reviews (and in reality, they really weren’t completely awful) have made me a better writer. I came to terms with my own writing as a craft that still needed work. I went back to my novel and did the work. It is better now as a result. But when I went back, as determined as I was, I was still shaky, quite shaky.
Finally, mid-December the book published. I was so eager to hold my work in my hands as a book, not a manuscript. My first look would be in the eBook format.
Bam! Down I went again. Another wave.
Not only did this one knock me off my feet, for a while it put me under. Both Kindle and Kobo editions contained significant formatting errors that severely compromised the reader’s experience. By the time the publisher’s staff had gone for what seemed like an interminable Christmas break, the formatting of the eBook was still wasn’t fixed.
To be transparent here, there were other factors in my going under at the time—the December dark of a northerly latitude, bitter cold temperatures, intensely painful sciatica.
I was as under water as my poor protagonist in Chapter Seventeen.
Then weeks later, a steady hand pulled me out, let me catch my breath again. The Senior Operations Manager for FriesenPress ably got the formatting errors corrected. Within a few days the eBooks looked great. A paperback copy of the book arrived and it looked good, too.
I was on my feet again, still a bit shaken, but on my feet again.
Like my protagonist, I guess.
And to finish the story, a couple of weeks later yet another of the Senior Managers from FriesenPress spent time with me—going over feedback to the company I had provided, validating my experience, helping me to move through it all. I am deeply grateful to the work of these two members of the FriesenPress team.
I started this blog with the adage that life can imitate art. Really it doesn’t. The circumstances and complications of life on their own don’t strive for resolution and meaning as do the arts. We, us humans, have to do that. Life is a merely succession of events. What we make of them makes the difference, makes it a story.
But art does help.
I love doing photography. Somewhere I read that great photography (and the other visual arts) help us to see the world around us, to find beauty in it, to deepen our appreciation of what is there. And, I compose music. I have a piece entitled Rain which is now a reference point for the way that I hear the sound of rain around me. And another, River, that makes even more beautiful my memories of riverboat cruising in Europe.
The storyline of An Incoming Tide has turned out to be the template for understanding the publishing journey for An Incoming Tide. It helps me to see one of my own life’s stories in a different way.
One more thing. I am editing the next novel. It documents the healing process for my protagonist left in such an precarious state at the end of An Incoming Tide. That’s life too, isn’t it?
P.S. I, too, was once knocked over by a hightide wave on the Pacific Coast. Completely submerged in the brine with an undertow pulling at me. But that is another story.