Writing Life #5

As a regular feature, our authors periodically answer an interview question to provide a glimpse into the mysteries of their minds.

What was the biggest mistake you made with your first book?

Lee French:

The cover. Ugh. The first cover was a disaster. I have Photoshop, I thought. I’m pretty smart, I thought. I have a decent eye for design, I thought. Uh, no, no, and no, with a side of no and some no on top. Were I able to go back and redo only one thing about that book to start with, I would have paid someone to make me a super-awesome cover for that book. Granted, it needed other things too. I’m fond of saying that if there’s a mistake one can make with an early book, I’ve totally made it.

But that cover…*shudder* I use my copies of that cover as a reminder that I’m not as awesome as I think I am.


Connie J. Jasperson:

During NaNoWriMo 2010, I wrote a book, called The Last Good Knight. It was a fun romp through an alternate medieval reality, both harsh and hilarious. I entered it in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest, where I met a small publisher who offered me a contract. I was quite flattered, and signed the contract.

My first publisher was less than thorough in the editing of my book, and the book was not what it could have been. The editing was not as professional a job as my current editors offer me. The finished book was a mess, rife with weak sentences and info dumps. It was a first draft, and no reputable publisher would have wanted it when I was lured into taking the plunge, but I was too new to the industry and didn’t know that.

That publisher and I parted ways in 2012, and while the parting was not amicable, it was not an entirely negative experience. I did learn many things about publishing during my time with them that I am using to good advantage today, blogging and becoming twitter-proficient being the most useful.   (You can follow me on twitter, @cjjasp)

I have since unpublished that book, and have re-written it. The Last Good Knight is currently on hold while I finish the third and final book in the Tower of Bones series. Julian Lackland’s tale will re-emerge in 2017. I love that book, and the wonderful characters that came to life in it’s pages. Huw the Bard, one of my favorite characters ever, grew out of that book. Huw was a side character, but his story really captured me.

Out of that less-than-positive experience I learned two important things:

  • NEVER rush to publish. Have your work professionally edited and proofread. Only when that manuscript is as good as you can possibly make it, should you ever press the button and publish it.
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

David P. Cantrell:

Publishing it. Actually that was only part of it. The most significant mistake was relying on friends and family to be my beta readers, editor and proof readers.

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Author: Lee French

Lee French lives in Olympia, WA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with one dragon and absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don't get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.

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