Monday, March 08, 2010

From NaNo to published - A Gift From Above -

Heather Paye is my guest today. Let's find out how she went from a 30-day novel challenge to published. (Of note, Heather refers to NaNo as a contest, but it really is a challenge of oneself to prove you can write 50,000 words in 30 days. I've participated in NaNo as a cheerleader for my friends and actually did write a YA novel a couple of Novembers ago, which I'm hoping to edit and publish one of these days, but working on my 50-state stories is my main objective for the time being.)

So Heather, please tell us about your experience with NaNoWriMo that led to you becoming a published author:

When I heard of this contest called "NaNoWriMo" I decided to participate and write a 50,000 word novel in one month's time. After all, how hard could it be? I wrote a novel before, so writing another one wouldn't be too hard. Well, I found out it was no walk in the park, you'd be surprised at how often life hits you, and you spend every waking moment working on producing words that make sense. Anyways, I emerged victorious. At the beginning it was understood there were no prizes, just a little printable certificate and your rough draft for your novel. It turns out that the year that I participated each person who managed to write 50,000 words or more were to receive a free proof copy if they decided to self-publish their book. I had nothing to lose, so I went for it. I had six months to get this all done (there was an expiration date on the free proof copy coupon), so I worked away, and four months later we welcomed "A Gift From Above" to stores, a self-published gem. Today, the first novel that I wrote "The Jewel of Onsolot" is being prepared for publication at a traditional publisher. So you can see, I'm not so one-sided when it comes to publishers. Age has never really been an issue for me when it comes to publishing, as long as you're serious and you maintain a professional tone publishers will - and do - take you seriously.

I think that the publishing process is the same for both traditional and self-publishing, at least up to a certain point in the game anyways. Write the book, edit until your eyes fall out, put them back in, and edit some more. After that, you should search for publishers, either traditional or self-publishers, beware of vanity presses though, not that they're bad, but they require that you pay money (usually thousands) to get your book published. After deciding on a publisher then things take two different points. For traditional publishing, you just read the submission guidelines, gather everything you need, edit EVERYTHING, and then send it in. Traditional publishing takes patience and you should be a team player, even if you're not. For self-publishing, it's not quite so mellow, being the editors, illustrator, layout and design, marketer, it's all very time consuming. Never a dull moment though with so much to do. Either route you choose be sure to have a great marketing plan, in this economy, you'll need it. Get out a calendar and mark on each day what you'll do to promote your book, it does help.

"A Gift From Above" is doing alright swimming in this economy, but it could be doing better. Some months there are plenty of purchases, while others are quieter than empty fields. These days, people just won't buy a book that costs even $5 when they could buy some essential item they need to survive, like a loaf of bread. Unless you're doing really well, and there is a lot of buzz about your book, then your book won't be seeing so much buying action. Marketing is one of the hardest parts of publishing a book, because it is the longest, it is forever on going. I have found that "A Gift From Above" sells MUCH better in the public eye. I haven't found out why this is yet, possibly just because of the convenience of having the book right there and being able to take it home right away rather than waiting for it to ship or download.

For more on Heather and to order her books, you may go to the following:

Heather's blog
Heather's fan site
Heather's Createspace store
Amazon purchase link
Amazon kindle purchase link


DarcĂ­a said...

What a great story, Heather! I can sure relate to the process of editing until your eyes fall out. (In my case, editing until I snap at anyone who comes close!)

madcapmaggie said...

Heather, what a terrific accomplishment! And 50,000 words -- wow!

I do find that editing is much harder than writing the original version. Best of luck with your new book.

Margaret Fieland

Anonymous said...

I edit as much as I can, then turn things over to a professional. Editing's tough and I can see how someone's eyes can fall out. Congrats! on the Nano. Tried it last year and got to 25,000 words.

Stephen Tremp

elysabeth said...

Darcia, isn't it wonderful all authors are given this opportunity after participating in NaNo? It really makes the challenge worthwhile, especially to see your book in print and being able to sell to everyone.

Margaret, it's not an easy accomplishment. I did it but since I'm a short story writer, I don't feel I have a novel of anything over 25,000 in me. I prefer the short stories. It's what I know and what works for me. I say more power to the folks that do accomplish the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days.

Stephen, for your first attempt, that is pretty good. Most folks would have stopped much earlier on or moved on to something else. I was writing several short stories and participated on the Young Writers section where I could adjust my word count down since I know I can't write 50,000 over the course of a year (well maybe close to it but not quite).

Thanks for stopping by everyone. I'm sure Heather will stopy in shortly to post any comments and responses to you all - E :)

Karen Cioffi said...

Great post, Elysabeth.

Heather, I hope your determination and attitude rub off on other young people.

And, that's an interesting observation, that your book sells better offline rather than online.


kathy stemke said...

Nano has helped so many people sit down and write. Great accomplishment, Heather. Keep it up. I wish I could hook you up with my granddaughter who also writes, but hasn't gone through the editing and publishing phases yet.

Dana Donovan said...

I agree, what an accomplishment, 50K words in 30 days takes serious commitment. I've always said that writing is a discipline, and you, Heather, are well disciplined. Good job!

Vivian Zabel said...

Editing, editing, editing!

I'm in the process of editing the ARC for my latest novel (only 7 years after I started it). I'm ready to scream if anyone mentions edit or editing. Yes, I understand.

Katie Hines said...

Sounds like you're one busy lady, Heather. Best of luck with your books!

Martha said...

Wow! What an accomplishment.Best of luck with your new book.
Martha Swirzinski

Rena said...

Good luck with your book, Heather. I'm off to your blog to see more of what it's about. :)

elysabeth said...

Thanks for stopping by today everyone. Sorry Heather didn't get a chance to stop by today. I figured she was in school but would have stopped by afterwards to leave some comments. I emailed her but she must have forgotten as she hasn't responded (and it is almost midnight my time). Maybe she will stop by tomorrow. See you all in the postings. - E ;)

Janet Ann Collins said...

With an attitude like that, Heather has a great future ahead of her.

Accountant, Author & Freelance Writer said...

Such an interesting story from an amazing writer. Thanks for sharing.

KittyNadem said...

Thank you all so much for stopping by, I always enjoy reading such wonderful comments. And thank you, Elysabeth, for hosting me and running interference until I grabbed a chance to get myself over here on this wonderful blog!

Darcia - Eyes fall out, snapping at walking by innocents, yep, I can definitely relate! Editing definitely frys brain cells.

Margaret - Thank you so much, this is very true.

Stephen - A fresh set of eyes on a novel is definitely a good way to rid all of those errors.

Karen - I hope so as well, if I can help others become successful - or at least determined to be so, I'm pretty satisfied.

Kathy - If you want, you can drop me an email, I'd be happy to get in touch with your Granddaughter.

Dana - Thank you for your awesome comment. I agree, writing takes a great amount of discipline.

Vivian - You are like the ultimate editor/writer! If I were in your position I may have committed myself! And I thought I was all "edited-out". Oh, but I just mentioned "edit" didn't I? Please don't scream... or do, it might make you feel better. ;)

Katie - Thank you, yes, busy is definitely a word for it, doing good though.

Martha - Thank you!

Rena - Thanks for stopping by this blog to leave a comment, and thanks for venturing to my blog to discover more. There's a excerpt on my website - - you might stop by there. ;)

Janet - Thank you so much for your great comment! I certainly hope the ride ahead is good.

Acountant, Author, & Freelancer - Thank you for stopping by and reading!

Best of wishes to you all!

~ Heather Paye

Dallas said...

Very inspiring! I've heard great things about NaNoWriMo and you, Heather, are proof of it! Best of luck!

:) Dallas

Carol said...

inspirational. Congratulations Heather. hope you inspire lots of other young writers!

Rena said...

Hi E -- I nominated you for a blog award over on mine. Check it out when you get a chance!

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Boy, like some others here I do know all about the eye sores that come with editing. But it's a natural process for writers.

Kudos to all that you've accomplished.

Debra Eckerling said...

So much fun to learn more about you, Heather!

I completed NaNo for the first time last year - it was a challenge, but I was determined to finish ... Am gearing up for ScriptFrenzy in April (same people as NaNoWriMo, but writing a screenplay).

Best of luck on your projects! Keep up the good work.

Thanks for such a great post, Elysabeth!