A couple of weeks ago, I had an e-mail from a publisher about a novella I'd submitted. It was one of those "oh wow or what?" moments, the offer of a publishing contract for the story. I've had five short stories published in the past, four in anthologies, but this felt even better than my very first acceptance.
But like many people in this position, my inner doubts spoke up. Is my story really good enough? What will the editor say about it? Will anyone buy it? Will they like it? What will they say in reviews?
Well, I told my inner doubts that it's been read by people who publish stories as a business, and they're prepared to take a chance on it.
In other words, "naff orf, inner doubts".
So various paperwork formalities to deal with, do a lightning-fast review for embarrassing typos and inconsistencies, write short and long book blurbs, and send everything back asap.
Note to self (1): Write various drafts of both short and long blurbs before submitting in future.
Then something I'd not thought about all that much. Cover art.
The publisher's website had examples of previously-published covers and some pre-prepared ones I could select. But none of them seemed quite right. So I spend a few hours searching their preferred stock photo agency for photos of models who looked something like my mental pictures of the three main characters. Which none of them quite did. So, identify nearest-fits with comments, and hope their artist can come up with something we all like. And I apologise now for any headaches my amateurish approach might cause.
Quite a few Facebook friends who are authors post photos of models they're using to develop their ideas about characters, a complete reversal of my approach.
Note to self (2): Next time I'm developing a story idea, find photos I like and use these to imagine what my characters look like.
Now I'm waiting to hear from the editor assigned to work with me on my story, hence the "slightly anxious" comment.
I don't doubt for a second that their comments and suggestions will be constructive and intended to help make it a better version of the story than my draft. But I've got this odd "it's my baby" feeling! This is by far my largest piece of work to be professionally edited, and one I put a lot of time and effort into. They'll understand that, of course.
My objective self is saying "see what they say, think about it, discuss differences of opinion and deal with it like grown-ups".
I'll leave my subjective self to talk to itself. Listening closely will not be helpful.
I hope this story will be the first in a series. I'd already started working on book 2, which will follow-on directly from book 1 and wrap up the minor open ends. I've already written some fairly long stories with the same characters, which I'm confident I can develop into novella-length stories.
I've got ideas for stories based around other characters in the same fictional world. But how much can I use books 1 and 2 to introduce these characters? Their stories would add a major supernatural element to the relatively normal fictional world I've created. Do I write these other stories as a self-contained storyline and ignore the "overlaps" between the two?
But as I try to remind myself, if it was easy, it wouldn't be as much fun!
So, what's my story all about?
I'll be a total rat-bag and say nothing for now.
But I will say more as things progress. Watch this space...