What I’ve Learned Since Publishing My First Novel
Writing a book is like preparing for a talent show with an audience of thousands. You think you’re really good—you have this idea, this dream, that you want to share with the world and you think to yourself: Hell yeah, I’m good enough! So you craft your “baby,” say no to hanging out with your friends and cute guys, stay up way past your bed time, and try to meet your word count by participating in the largest boot camp for writers: NaNoWriMo. Then it’s done. You do some of your own edits, hire someone else to do major edits, and maybe have some beta readers catch random mistakes. Finally, you feel it’s ready for release. You throw a big party, everyone and their mom’s uncle’s parakeet comes, you make some immediate sales, and you feel like Macklemore scoring a sweet deal at the thrift shop. No one can knock you down from the high of the first release. Until you get that one review noting the weaknesses in your “baby”.
This is what happened to me last year when I released my first novel, Feast Island. But let’s face it: I knew the book wasn’t perfection itself, but I did think it was ready for the world to see. Little did I know I had so much to learn. When I received my first draft back from my editor, I agreed with most changes that were made or suggested. After making those changes, I had some beta readers and friends—who are great editors—look over the manuscript. They had suggested other areas to fix, and I made further alterations. However, as my own deadline loomed near, and my eagerness to just get-the-book-out-in-the-public-already tugged at my patience, I kind of just “went” for it. I approved my proofs from my distributor and ordered the final copies. In my haste, the book was not as polished as I had told myself it was. And I can’t be sure, but I may have uploaded a draft that was not as updated as my final—by accident, of course. That’s the problem of having like 23 versions, all labeled obscurely.
Because of some reviews and my more experienced “writer’s eye” (I just made that up), I decided that my baby needed to mature a bit and go back to the hell of wonderful land of editing. I caught a few errors here and there, but what really got me? All the “was-es” or sentences beginning with “I”. Seriously? I know better than that! And have been taught better than that, too. But being able to catch those as a writer…well, that takes time and practice. So, after I made numerous edits, I thought: Hey, I should release a 2nd edition of this and make it fresh. I hired my cover artist to draft a new cover, and hired a different editor who was recommended to me by my publisher. Currently, my editor is on the final pages of Feast Island and I am very curious to see what else she recommends. The new cover is done—woot! And I’m hoping to release Feast Island: 2nd Edition next month. Except this time, I’m in no hurry. I will make sure that this version is as polished and pretty as my newly pedicured feet. And if that takes a while, so be it.
Therefore, writers, learn from my mistakes. First of all, label your files in a more organized fashion than I did with my first drafts. And second, good things take time…great things take even more time. Be patient, mature your manuscript, allow people to be critical with your project, and stand by your convictions. Then, after all that, an amazing novel is born and you’ll be beaming with pride when your wonderful, appreciative readers give you a pat on the back.
Feast Island Blurb
Seven teenagers from Northern California are assigned a seemingly innocent group project for their Freshman English class. Little do they know, this project will take them on a journey out of this world—literally. Cantelia appears much like Earth until the kids realize magic is as plentiful as the wildlife surrounding them. What’s at stake is much more than they can fathom, especially since they are part of an ancient prophecy. A dark and evil ruler is enforcing a curse on the people of Sikuku Island—the same place where the kids have been transported. Now, they must help the islanders break the curse if they ever want to see their own planet again. Join Alex and her friends as they learn there is so much more beyond their comfortable lives in Pollock Pines and its legendary Spirit Lake.
Tamar Hela Bio
Tamar Hela was born and raised in the Bay Area of California, where she currently resides with her family. Since the age of ten, many of her teachers have encouraged her to pursue a career in writing fiction. Tamar has always had a knack for words, loving the art of storytelling. As a musician and artist, she understands the importance of captivating an audience through various mediums, but especially loves using words to create visual images for readers. When she’s not writing, singing, drinking coffee, or dreaming up some crazy scheme, she can be found curled up with a good book.
Thank you so much, Tamar, for sharing your experiences with us! Good luck with the re-launch and book-signing and all the other exciting things you’re destined for!