Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WIP – Soon to be published

By Pamela Moeng

As a newbie in publishing, my manuscript circulating with page proofs didn’t incite any emotion. As someone who has spent several years and many hours on more than one WIP aka Work in Progress, those three little letters tell a big story.

The WIP closest to my heart right now is entitled No Perfect People Allowed. NPPA as my publisher  (Damaria Senne Media) and I refer to it has taken several years in its birthing. Recently Damaria asked me to answer a few questions for Storypot readers about the manuscript and thebirthing process. 

Developing my answers forced me to think not only about NPPA but about how I develop my stories generally, and I found myself being both the interviewer and the interviewee simultaneously – quite an experience! Below are the Qs & As.

Q 1: What inspired you to write the story?
NPPA opens with a quote that I heard one day. The words I heard intrigued me because as soon as I heard them I saw a picture in my mind. Giving life to that picture and the people in the picture also gave life to NPPA. 

Q 2: How did you create the characters of No Perfect People Allowed?
I constantly research best practice in editing and writing and in my research I discovered that most writers are either consummate planners or seat-of-the-pantsers. I am for better or worse a seat-of-the-pantser. My stories and characters grow organically out of some mysterious fount of imagination inherent to me. That could be frightening – what if the fount dries up? But oddly I don’t find it daunting at all. I see a scene from life or a photograph of strangers; I hear a song or a few verses of poetry; I read a headline in the newspaper, and a story blooms in my mind. The characters of NPPA were shadows in the picture in my mind when I heard the words: Wazalwa, wadla, wafa. He was born, he ate, he died. 

Q 3: The title is very catchy. How did you come to title this story No Perfect People Allowed?
Being of a certain age and having known people of many cultures and backgrounds, it seems to me that, and this may seem obvious to some readers, our Creator simply doesn’t allow perfection in humans. The most physically beautiful person will have some flaw. The most intelligent person will have some flaw. Perhaps as humans we are meant to learn that as individuals we aren’t perfect and no one else is either. Each of us hurts people, makes silly decisions and behaves badly at times. Accepting our own flaws and the flaws of others helps us grow and open our hearts to love.

Q 4: No Perfect People Allowed was rejected by a number of publishers. How did that feel?
Likea hornet’s sting! I submitted NPPA to three publishing houses and it was rejected three times, but will some compliments about the competency of the writing. Character development was one of the reasons given, and not fitting a particular genre. 

The first rejection was painful, but I believed in the story – I still do! – and I had several other publishers in mind. Those rejections were more painful, but I hadn’t given up on the story or the characters. For that reason, I submitted the manuscript to the Citizen/Pan Macmillan Book Prize competition. The manuscript made it to the top three but didn’t bag the prize. That was sore, but the critiques sent through from the judges gave me even more determination to publish.

I once read that a writer shouldn’t rewrite anything unless a publisher has contracted you to publish the book. I thought about that a lot before I began working on the NPPA manuscript again. As I fine tuned it, according to the critiques, I also gave it to other readers and asked for additional critiques. The comments were positive enough to continue the reworking, and it’s nearly there. Publication is only a few months away now.
Q 6: What are your feelings on digital publishing? Are you satisfied with publishing with a small indie publisher? Is going with an indie publisher giving up on mainstream publication (for you) or are you still going to pursue mainstream publishing with other works?
A year ago I would have said that publishing with an indie publisher is only one step up from self-publishing. Gasp! Cringe! But a year of research and reading numerous articles about how publishing is changing and the huge gap between the financial returns to the author for traditional print publishing book deals and those of digital publishing through an indie publisher or self publishing, and I’ve changed my mind. A close friend has published several mainstream novels with traditional print publishers and her complaints about editing and proofreading quality and the lack of marketing undertaken on her behalf by the publishers helped sway me to an indie publisher.

Traditional print publishers are gate-keepers of note. Sometimes that gate-keeping prevents us from being flooded by poor quality writing, but other times it keeps us away from innovative and quality writing that simply doesn’t fit the criteria for a large return on investment for the publisher.

Writers treasure the stories of manuscripts that were rejected many times only to find a publisher and become publishing sensations and lucrative projects for the authors. Today’s technology inspires many more people to write and it stands to reason that rather than get traditional print publisher contracts, many of those authors will go the self publishing or indie publisher route to disseminate their work.

The times they are a changing as Bob Dillon once said, and I think we’d be foolish if we didn’t change with the publishing times.

Q 7:  What qualities do you look for in your ideal indie publisher?
My ideal indie publisher is one that is credible in the industry, has a reputation for publishing well-written and edited work with strong plots and in-depth characterisations. I recently heard a self- published author say she hadn’t bothered to have a professional editor edit her manuscript before having it typeset and designed. Big mistake, I said to myself. That is exactly what will give self publishing and indie publishing a bad name. An indie publisher who didn’t want to “waste” time or money in editing and proofreading my work – and I trained and worked many years as a professional editor – wouldn’t be a publisher I want to work with.  Fortunately for me, DSM is a credible publisher and doesn’t skimp when it comes to editing and proofreading. I’m proud to be associated with the company. 


po said...

Good luck with your book! It sounds intriguing.

PJ said...

Thanks, Po, I appreciate it. I certainly enjoyed writing it and learning from the criticism from the readers.

Ruben said...

That's cool, I'd like to get a copy of your ebook 'How to get quoted in the media

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With the exception of entries specifically credited to individual authors, the content on this blog is copyrighted by Damaria Senne and may not be reprinted without permission.