“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May
Literature is only art form that is both created and enjoyed alone.
Over the course of over a year, I spent numerous hours alone creating a novel manuscript that I hoped readers would enjoy. I spent thirteen long and lonely months waiting for responses from agents and submissions editors. After more than forty lonely rejections, it was nice to get a contract offer to publish the novel. It was exceptionally nice to get two offers.
I was sitting alone in a hotel room on July 2nd when I opened the email. The sender was Angie from Cedar Fort Publishing. Because I sent a hard copy of the manuscript to Cedar Fort in January, I figured, like with so many other publishers and agents, that no response was the same as a negative response, only much more cold and impersonal. I had forgotten about the submission, and was considering an offer from a small regional publisher. When I opened the email, I had to read it twice to believe it. I immediately called my wife to tell her the good news.
After careful review of the two offers, I was happy to sign a publishing contract with Cedar Fort Publishing. Before the ink of my signature was dry, I was getting help. Angie gave me a packet to read about their process, along with several tasks to complete. Kelly from marketing contacted me and began to coach me and help me put together a marketing plan. Melissa contacted me about the editing process. All of sudden, I wasn’t alone in this fight.
As luck would have it, my wife and I had a trip planned to Utah, the home of Cedar Fort, a week or so after signing the contract. So I scheduled a visit. My wife drove the tiny Nissan Versa (an upgrade from rental car she originally booked – I would hate to have seen what she originally booked) down to Springville for the appointment. I must admit I was nervous when we pulled up to the office/warehouse. Writing had always been a solo endeavor. Now, other people wanted, even demanded, to be a part of the process. Unable to sit down, I wandered around the lobby looking at some of their new releases.
After just a few minutes, Angie came down the stairs and welcomed us. She exuded the same even-tempered personality that comes across in her emails and over the phone. The kind of personality that makes for great emergency personnel (Relax sir. You’re going to be okay. I’m a trained professional.) She gave us a tour of the facility, which included a warehouse/discount store, along with a bit of company history and future vision. I thought my wife was going to stop right there and let me finish the meeting without her, but she stuck with me.
Next, Angie introduced us to the rest of the team that would be working on publishing the book – Melissa the editor, Kelly for Marketing, and Kelsey handling cover design. After meeting this team of professionals, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. It was nice to know that four previously total strangers had a vested interest in seeing this work succeed.
When I broke out my list of questions, Angie ushered us into the conference room. She spent an hour answering questions about the process, the contract, and the timeline. She was patient, and if she was ever frustrated with my novice line of questioning, she never showed it. She also quickly learned that I had brought along a secret weapon – my wife. Several times during the conversation I sat back with a smile on my face and watched the two of them brainstorm about how to get the most traction during the release and how to close the most number of sales at events. They came up with a brilliant idea for the book launch party. I’m not sure it will sell a lot of books, but I do know it will be one heck of a party! (More to come…)
Kelly, the marketing guy, was more laid back than I expected from someone that markets goods for a living, but I think it comes from experience. His casual manner and soft-sell approach boosted my confidence. As we discussed the marketing plan, it was obvious that it wasn’t his first rodeo. He suggested several standard items, like social media promotion, a website, and press releases, but he also wanted to capitalize on some of the current media buzz and its connection to the themes of the book. He also introduced me to some techniques with presales, and advised me to lay groundwork now with simple things, but be prepared for a blitz when the book was released.
Kelsey, the cover designer, had a face as cheerful and upbeat as a good self-help book with a personality to match. I found a photo that I thought was perfect for the cover several months ago, and when I showed it to her, her face lit up. She immediately captured the vision for the cover design and was anxious to get something designed in time for their next catalog. I hope she infuses the cover design with her inviting and cheerful demeanor, because if she does, it will definitely sell.
When I first met Melissa, the Editor, she had a document pulled up on her computer screen. I started to worry when I saw more red than black on her screen. I had visions of my freshman English teacher and her red pen, but Melissa was soft-spoken and very helpful when we discussed both the content and technical structure of the manuscript. She put me at ease about my weaknesses and assured me that, like a good diamond cutter, she would help me polish the rough spots into smooth brilliance.
I am comfortable with solitude. Writing in many ways is a lonely endeavor, but publishing takes the effort and collaboration of many talented people. I’m excited to be working with the talented group from Cedar Fort.
After two hours of questioning, brainstorming, and planning, my wife was ready to hit the discount bookstore. I hope she sells a lot of my books to help pay for all the stuff she bought.