The Fat Lady's Singing

Thursday, April 01, 2021

There's the saying that everybody knows: It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. Well, this fat lady is singing... but it ain't over. It ain't done.


My book is finished. It's published. It's available for pre-order (on Amazon). And yet there are still changes being made.


This is the cover of my book. The art
was created by Jessica Esfahani, a truly gifted artist. She imposed
newspaper headlines from 1921 onto the silhouette, and
hand-drew the ruins of Greenwood. It was a brilliant design, in my opinion.

Since I'm not Stephen King or James Patterson or Jodi Picoult, my books are POD (print on demand). There's not a warehouse full of cases of my books (which is what my husband thinks) just waiting to be snapped up by the millions. (My husband thinks that is going to happen, too. I just laugh and laugh and laugh.) If nobody buys my book, it'll never be printed. If only three books are ordered, only three books are printed.


I received a gift from Amazon a couple of weeks ago: a padded envelope with an ARC (advanced reader copy) of my book. It wasn't supposed to be here until the next day, so I mistakenly thought it was just a book I'd ordered for my classroom. It wasn't. It was my baby.


The rationale of getting an ARC is to catch the mistakes before it goes out to the rest of the world. Here are some of the things we've found as my publisher and I are going over the book with a critical eye:


  • missing or misplaced commas
  • commas that should be semi-colons (according to my publisher) and semi-colons that should be commas (according to me)--I think sometimes Margo lets me win, just to be kind...
  • a spot where I had the breeze blowing over someone's back, even though they were lying on the floor on their back. Yikes! (In defense, I think I originally had them lying on their stomach, and then switched it... or at least switched part of it)
  • a bit about the glow-in-the-dark numbers on an alarm clock... 100 years ago... in a not-wealthy family
  • a sentence where "but" was needed instead of "and"
  • a comma and a period after a Mrs. (hmm... that's a different way of punctuating an abbreviation)

I've spent five years working on this project. It's been examined many times and yet I still found almost three page's worth of mistakes. So that's one way that it ain't over.



Another way it ain't over yet: promotion. If you're J.K. Rowling or one of the aforementioned authors, you could write a book and then lounge on your couch and eat bon bons--if you wanted to. If you didn't want to do any author events, you wouldn't have to, because your book would still sell thousands and thousands of copies.


That's not the case once you finish a book and it's your first (and you're not a celebrity). Calling up radio personalities, book store owners, emailing fellow writers, trying to promote your book--it's all up to the author. If I only want my book to sell to my friends and family members who feel obligated to buy it (because I told them they were obligated), only 7 copies will sell... and then it will languish in book hell. It's a book, it's been published, for sure, but it will be forgotten in an instant. 


The final way it ain't over (or at least the last reason I'm going to discuss in this post): keeping the momentum going. It's tempting to plop my rear end down, satisfied I've told a story that's been burning inside of me for over ten years. My dream of getting a book published with my name on the spine? It's come true.


But what about my other projects that are in the works? A picture book with a troubled publishing past. A YA contemporary story that's barely begun. What about those?


I have to stay in the writing groove. I have to keep working on new projects. I have to keep crafting manuscripts...


... because as writers, we have to face the facts: it's never done.


Sioux Roslawski is a middle-school educator, a teacher-consultant for the Gateway Writing Project and a freelance writer. Her novel, Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, debuts on April 14.







9 comments:

Margo Dill said...

Ha! This is funny. I just emailed you with three changes I am making to the ARC. And asked you what else you had for me. :) Maybe we are perfectionists. That's a good thing. I think Henry's Story deserves as close to perfection as we can get it. And I'm hoping our small family at Editor-911 Books (I'm soon trying to connect us all) can help each other with marketing and momentum to keep us all going and not feel isolated! :)

I'm proud of this baby! I'm so proud of you! And I'm honored to be in the story of this book in the way I am.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Congratulations again Sioux. Yes, you're going to be very busy from now on with all things pertaining to your (baby) but it will be so worth it. I'm sure it will also fuel your excitement about finishing other writing projects you had on the backburner. As my sister often tells me, "You got this!" and you do.

Renee Roberson said...

Congrats Sioux (and Margo!) I can't imagine how hard it must be going over the final proofs because I hate looking over my stuff when I've completed it--there's always a mistake or typo lurking in there! I will proudly pre-order the book soon and can't wait to help spread the word.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I have lots of things I missed. I am finishing it tonight, and will send it as soon as I'm finished (probably late ;) I am singing your praises to whoever I can. You are a dream when it comes to publishers.

Jeanine--I think you're right. This is feeding the fire I have for a couple of other projects. "You got this" too, when it comes to your book. Have you been working on it? (A gentle nudge)

Renee--It's frustrating to see how many tiny things I overlooked, despite the fact that I looked at it more than once. Thanks. I can use all the PR I can get.

Cathy C. Hall said...

BIG congrats, Sioux! Did you put your link to order??? Because of course, I can't wait to read it! And yes, you're right, it's NEVER over. :-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Thanks. I just put in a link. And now I'd best get back to finding those pesky errors...

Angela said...

I love sparkling prose, and it sounds like it will be with you two are poring over everything! The breeze and the glow in the dark numbers made me laugh, but non-writers will never know just how hard it is to catch everything. I can still go over published essays and find tiny mistakes even though I've went over them a hundred times. Congratulations, Sioux (and Margo)! I'll be reviewing Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story. :)

Unknown said...
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Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--Sparkling prose? I'd prefer sparkling rose' right now. I spent almost a whole day poring over the lines, and found a whopping 58 mistakes... and I imagine there are some I missed.

I had them take some left-over biscuits, and later they (magically) turned into left-over cornbread. One sweater needed to be two. Some transitions that were wrong. The list went on and on and on.

Thanks in advance for the review. I hope you learn from it and I hope you like it.

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