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The Fat Lady's Singing

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There's the saying that everybody knows: It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. Well, this fat lady is singing... but it ain't over. It ain't done.

My book is finished. It's published. It's available for pre-order (on Amazon). And yet there are still changes being made.


This is the cover of my book. The art
was created by Jessica Esfahani, a truly gifted artist. She imposed
newspaper headlines from 1921 onto the silhouette, and
hand-drew the ruins of Greenwood. It was a brilliant design, in my opinion.

Since I'm not Stephen King or James Patterson or Jodi Picoult, my books are POD (print on demand). There's not a warehouse full of cases of my books (which is what my husband thinks) just waiting to be snapped up by the millions. (My husband thinks that is going to happen, too. I just laugh and laugh and laugh.) If nobody buys my book, it'll never be printed. If only three books are ordered, only three books are printed.

I received a gift from Amazon a couple of weeks ago: a padded envelope with an ARC (advanced reader copy) of my book. It wasn't supposed to be here until the next day, so I mistakenly thought it was just a book I'd ordered for my classroom. It wasn't. It was my baby.

The rationale of getting an ARC is to catch the mistakes before it goes out to the rest of the world. Here are some of the things we've found as my publisher and I are going over the book with a critical eye:

  • missing or misplaced commas
  • commas that should be semi-colons (according to my publisher) and semi-colons that should be commas (according to me)--I think sometimes Margo lets me win, just to be kind...
  • a spot where I had the breeze blowing over someone's back, even though they were lying on the floor on their back. Yikes! (In defense, I think I originally had them lying on their stomach, and then switched it... or at least switched part of it)
  • a bit about the glow-in-the-dark numbers on an alarm clock... 100 years ago... in a not-wealthy family
  • a sentence where "but" was needed instead of "and"
  • a comma and a period after a Mrs. (hmm... that's a different way of punctuating an abbreviation)
I've spent five years working on this project. It's been examined many times and yet I still found almost three page's worth of mistakes. So that's one way that it ain't over.


Another way it ain't over yet: promotion. If you're J.K. Rowling or one of the aforementioned authors, you could write a book and then lounge on your couch and eat bon bons--if you wanted to. If you didn't want to do any author events, you wouldn't have to, because your book would still sell thousands and thousands of copies.

That's not the case once you finish a book and it's your first (and you're not a celebrity). Calling up radio personalities, book store owners, emailing fellow writers, trying to promote your book--it's all up to the author. If I only want my book to sell to my friends and family members who feel obligated to buy it (because I told them they were obligated), only 7 copies will sell... and then it will languish in book hell. It's a book, it's been published, for sure, but it will be forgotten in an instant. 

The final way it ain't over (or at least the last reason I'm going to discuss in this post): keeping the momentum going. It's tempting to plop my rear end down, satisfied I've told a story that's been burning inside of me for over ten years. My dream of getting a book published with my name on the spine? It's come true.

But what about my other projects that are in the works? A picture book with a troubled publishing past. A YA contemporary story that's barely begun. What about those?

I have to stay in the writing groove. I have to keep working on new projects. I have to keep crafting manuscripts...

... because as writers, we have to face the facts: it's never done.

Sioux Roslawski is a middle-school educator, a teacher-consultant for the Gateway Writing Project and a freelance writer. Her novel, Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, debuts on April 14.

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