Guest Post: Ebony McKenna

July 11, 2011 § 14 Comments

Today my next guest blogger, Ebony McKenna, shares her perspective on life after publication:

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE HAPPY EVER AFTER?

Writers, I am a recently published author bringing news from the other side . . .

OK, so I’m having a bit too much fun with my ghostly work-in-progress. But I am here to say that for those of you desperate to be published (and I mean properly published, with a publisher that pays advances and prints books and distributes them into the stores) . . . It gets better.

And, unfortunately, it gets worse.

We’re writers. We have strange brains to begin with. If there was anything else we could do, surely we’d be doing it.

I love it. But some days – as much as you don’t want to hear this – I can hate it.

More to the point, some days I hate what I’m writing. I can’t shake Negative Nancy (sometimes known as The Internal Editor or The Little Bit*h) from my shoulder. Whatever I write looks twee. It feels forced. It doesn’t flow. It repeats something I said earlier. Or at least feels like it. It takes me down blind alleys. It leaves me staring at a blank screen.

This is balanced against wonderful milestones along the way. Signing with an agent, then with a publisher – they are the days writers dream about. My publishers, Egmont UK, were (and still are) amazing. They believed in Ondine and loved the story and the characters. They made the revision process so easy – and by easy I mean hard work – because they were so in synch with the book, with the characters and with my crazy brain.

It was an amazing time. My dreams – and those of my long-suffering and amazingly supportive husband – were all surpassed. Have you ever seen a pair of more gorgeous book covers? The first book established the fairy tale feel, the second book upped the magic. Every time I look at the covers I can’t help swooning. They are so gorgeous!

But the writing part of my brain began to change. I doubted myself more and yet I also worked as hard as I could. Writing a second book meant capturing lightning in a bottle for a second time. Book two had to be even bigger, better, more romantic and even weirder than book one.

The end of book one had to have a proper ending. No way was I going to leave readers dangling. If they invested the time reading my book, I was going to reward them with a warm fuzzy feeling. I had to do the same for book two – a sense of satisfaction while leaving scope for further adventures.

Time for some quick back story – I wrote and wrote and wrote for about 13 years before I finally broke through with my Ondine series. ‘Way back then’ I wrote for pleasure. During one particularly insane period, I challenged myself to write a 50,000 word romance in two weeks. And I did it!

That romance wasn’t publishable by a long shot, but this was in the day when writing was fun. Nobody else would see it. I wrote for the sheer joy of it.

Time to join me back in the here and now again – I can’t ‘write for fun’ like I used to.

Because people are going to read it! Thousands and thousands of people all over the world are reading my books.

And reviewing them.

The vast majority of readers and reviewers (ohmygosh, this is where things again exceeded my wildest dreams) rave about the books and love them. This is a fresh thrill each time.

But it also means I have to step things up. More self-imposed pressure, more doubts, more of putting up with The Little Bit*h.

I’m now writing to establish a ‘brand’: romantic humour with a fair splash of crazy. I’ve cornered the magic-with-talking-ferrets market. I’m giving people what they expect, when they see my name on the cover. Whatever I write in the future needs to fit my brand, otherwise I will lose the precious readers who came on board with the first Ondine novel.

Some may see this as restrictive, but these self-imposed boundaries give me a clear direction to take the next novels.
I can’t wait to find out where my brain takes me next.

***

To find out more about Ebony and her books, visit her website.

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§ 14 Responses to Guest Post: Ebony McKenna

  • Lovely post!

    Something I wish people told me about publishing: it’s the AFTER that’s the hard part. Promotions, blog tours, guest posts, giveaways- I love doing them but when all I want to do is write, these events really cut into my time.

  • Hi Michelle,
    promotion sure does take up so much time – so I make it as enjoyable as possible. And I do my best to write first, while the brain is fresh, and then do other things later.
    I really enjoy the promo side of things though. It’s kind of awesome to know that other people are even slightly interested in what I think.

  • EllieAnn says:

    Nice interview

  • 5kidswdisabilities says:

    Congratulations to Ebony McKenna for getting published!! The flip side sounds like fun. What a joyful time!!!!

  • Thanks EllieAnn and 5Kids –
    it is fun because I finally feel like all those years of hard work are paying off – in terms of actually getting published. It is a thrill to look at my books on the shelves and think ‘wow, it’s real!’

    Sometimes I even give them a cuddle. Because these books are my babies. And my real baby is nearly 8 and he’s too busy playing Angry Birds to give me cuddles. 😀

  • Charlotte says:

    Hi Ebony, thank you for sharing this post on my blog. I have to agree with you about the covers – they really are gorgeous. They caught my eye immediately; it’s enough to make me want to read, even before I got to the part about the magic-with-talking-ferrets. That’s got to be a big advantage to having a publisher – when they get the covers right, they really do it well.

    I can well imagine the feeling of pressure you’d get once the readership really starts to grow. That’s a real test, I suppose: some of us work well under pressure and for others it can really kill the motivation. I know some authors recommend having a ‘write for fun’ project from time to time – something you do without any thought of publishing it, merely to rekindle your love of writing. I wonder if it’s really possible to do that. Perhaps there would always be a small part of your brain that would wonder about maybe publishing it someday, and that’s already enough to ruin the effect. What do you think about this?

    • *hugs smiles* Thank you for sharing your blog space, I’m having so much fun.

      I absolutely love the idea of having a secret fun project on the side. One where I don’t have to think about editing or public reaction. It’s so tempting I might just have to do it!

      That’s kind of how the Ondine series started, I was desperately trying to write the sort of book I thought agents and publishers wanted – and in the mean time this crazy story with the ferret popped into my head.

  • Great post Ebony!

    We may think that all the hard work is before getting a contract, but it sounds as if it doesn’t really start till after! Not that I’m complaining. I can’t wait!
    And I can’t wait to see what you produce next!
    Thanks for such a fresh, funny series of books.

    Michelle Somers

  • Hi Ebony,
    Great blog. The hard work certainly starts again after your book is published. But what a nice feeling, especially when you have a follow up which is well received also, as you did.

    Onwards and upwards, your reading public want more.

    Cheers

    Margaret

    • Aha! thank you very much Margaret 😀
      Waaaay back before I was published, I also used to wonder why writers stayed with the same characters book after book . . . and now I’m on the other side, I understand how hard it is to let them go!

      One day I will have to let Ondine and Hamish go, and it will rip my heart to shreds!

  • Hi Ebony, I totally agree with you – after you’re published is definitely harder.

    Not only because of the promotion, but there’s an expectation that has to be reached with everything you write from that moment onwards.

    Not that you have to worry. You’re a fantastic writer and deserve all the accolades you’ve had, and will have in the future.

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