THE NOVICE AUTHOR
A Journey into the Unknown by author Karen Ingalls.
My close friend exclaimed, “You must get this published. Every woman needs to read this.” I had reluctantly agreed to let her read my journal that I had kept since my cancer diagnosis. It was just one part of many journals I had kept starting around the age of ten. I had written poetry, short stories, and in my late teens I began my first novel. My times of writing were therapeutic and private. I found answers to the chaos in my dysfunctional family even though I never even told anyone that I did any writing. Though I dreamed of being a famous author, I did not believe that I had the talent. My family was not one to give out compliments regarding my grades, art projects, or how I looked.
Fifty years later, I was encouraged to publish my journal as a memoir, but I at the same time I felt overwhelmed and frightened. Yet, I had a sense of determination that carried me through. It was 2010, just two years since my diagnosis and little did I know that at 69, my life would forever be changed, renewed, and rewarded.
I went to the local bookstore and purchased a large book with instructions on how to write a query letter and lists of thousands of publishers and agents. One literary agent taught at Columbine High School at the same as a friend of mine. I used his name in introducing myself and sent an overview of and an excerpt from my manuscript. That rejection letter was one of approximately thirty. Such letters made me feel rejected and childhood memories tried to raise their ugly heads, but once again I turned to my mantra, “I can do this”.
I Googled for publishing houses in my area, the Twin Cities of Minnesota. One company asked for an overview of the manuscript to send to their email address. I not only sent my memoir, but I included my then finished novel which I had begun to write as a teenager. A half hour later I received a phone call from Beaver’s Pond Press. “Are you free tomorrow, I would love to meet with you?” Dara Beevas asked.
We concentrated on the memoir first since the market is narrower and be easier to sell. Over the next year I learned about editing, book design, marketing, selling, blogs, and social media. A whole new world opened up to me. My book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir was published in March 2012. I set up accounts with CreateSpace and Amazon, ordered books, and had my first launch.
Here are the main points I learned and continue to learn on this journey:
1. Believe in yourself.
2. Be willing to accept criticism and suggestions from those in the publishing world. Be open to learning.
3. Search the Internet for information on how to write a query letter, addresses of publishers and agents, independent author organizations.
4. Become familiar with social media.
5. Find an excellent editor. Your editor will bring your story to life and help you see errors that you have read over many times.
6. Know that marketing your book is the hardest task you will have, but do not be discouraged. This is where other authors, book or author organizations on the Internet can be of great help.
7. Join book clubs. The one I have found most helpful, supportive and enjoyable is Rave Reviews Book Club.
I have two published novels and a memoir. Now I am working on my third novel and second memoir. I have many published articles and am a speaker for a variety of different groups. I have two blogs. One is more for my memoir emphasizing health/wellness, spirituality and relationships at http://www.outshineovariancancer.blogspot.com. My second blog is Mind, Pen, & Spirit for authors and avid readers at http://www.kareningalls.blogspot.com. I welcome you to follow my blogs and do a guest blog.
I am no longer a novice author, but a published author who continues to follow her dream. My journey as an author has been a wonderful learning experience, an opportunity to challenge myself, and a way to meet incredible authors and those who enjoy books. So, I encourage you to pick up the pen, write, and publish your book. Follow your dream.
Karen Ingalls is an author of two novels, a memoir, and several publications. She has a blog for authors and avid readers Mind, Pen & Spirit at www.kareningalls.blogspot.com and welcomes guest posts. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, Rave Writers International Society of Authors, Independent Authors Network, and Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club.