The journey to realize and manifest a book is like nothing else I know. You spend months (at least in my case) dreaming up these characters, making them so real in your mind that they are as close to you as any of your friends. You pour emotion into them. You decide things like what their favorite color is and what they snack on or watch on t.v., what kind of music they like, what makes them cry. And then you tell their story. Day after day, you sit alone and listen for their voices. And you write exactly what you hear, seeing it all unfold in your mind and trying desperately to do the whole thing justice. Because, godammit, they chose you. And that feels important and blessed and fragile all at the same time. Even if you're not going for a Pulitzer.
And once your book is done, you go through it all over again in some twisted, other-dimensional reality known as "rewriting". And then you do that a few more times because it always feels like you only get one shot. And then you beg, and maybe pay, friends and editors, or editors who are friends, or vice versa, to do it with you and for you. And then you give it a final once over. And this will be the last time, you promise yourself.
This is where it should be done, right? Wrong.
Now you begin the long process of submitting. Maybe you have an agent, maybe you don't. You try to sum up all the glory and emotion and gruel of your novel into one page called a query letter. And again, you go over and over this thing until your retinas bleed because it always feels like you only get one shot. And you send this to dozens of strangers and hope and pray and wait. And wait some more. And wait until you feel like your head is going to cave in on itself with the emptiness. And you try to write other things and do other things. You take up knitting or join a critique group pretending you are moving on and have let it go. But really, it's all just more waiting.
A 1,001 ways of waiting.
And then you land said agent, if you hadn't already in some previous version of these same crazy events. And guess what? You start over at the beginning. You get to read and write your whole story all over again, a few more times if your agent is good and as invested as you are. They call it revising this time, but deep down you know it's all really the same. And why do you do this? Because it always feels like you only get one shot.
By now, you know your novel cover to cover by heart. Your patner catches you reciting passages in your sleep. And you are tinkering over details like, "Do I really need to mention the flats she's wearing in this scene?"
And when your agent feels confident you have polished that novel to a high, undeniable shine, you start over at step two. Now they get to send out the letters, but you both go through the waiting. Again, you write other things. Make up other characters. Take up hobbies like watching paint dry. And then, if all goes well, you land a deal. And now it's finally done, right? Wrong.
Go back to step one. Only this time, with an editor. Which is kind of like revising it with your agent if your agent was the love child of Edward Scissorhands and Howard Hughes (Bring the milk. Bring the milk.). You write the flats out. You write them back in. You change the color. Twice. You change them to heels. And then you write them out again, this time for good. And you labor and you love and none of it is in vain because it always feels like you only get one shot.
And somewhere out in the universe, some other stranger is going through a similar process with your cover. Dreaming up concepts. Mocking up concepts. Asking rhetorical questions to an otherwise empty room, "Is she too pale?" Handing it off, getting it back. And so on and so forth.
And then one magical day these two labors of love come together, and a book is finally born. And the pride and joy are overwhelming.
Today, well, technically a day a couple of weeks ago, is one of those days for me. We went through three other covers before settling on this one. SONGBYRD wasn't as easy to capture in pictures as it was in words. But I think this cover does a solid job. It's dark, mysterious, and alluring. And that really sums my story and my characters up. I hope you love it as much as I do!
SONGBYRD releases June 7th. It is available for preorder on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.