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.