Today is the book birthday of JACK (Musa Publishing) by Book Country veteran member Shannon LC Cate, who was recently a guest on our member spotlight. A book birthday—the day your book hits store shelves for the first time—is a momentous event in a writer’s life, and Shannon has chosen to celebrate it by acknowledging the people who have helped her along the way.
I will give the stage to Shannon now, but first, on behalf of the entire Book Country team:
CONGRATULATIONS, SHANNON! ~NG
The acknowledgements list.
Throughout my process of writing JACK, names would pop onto the running list in my head and I would tell myself I was making mental notes towards an acknowledgements list. But when the time came to actually offer such a list to my publisher, I choked. In the end, I was too afraid of forgetting someone to set it in stone. But I won’t ever forget how much help I had bringing JACK into being.
Something too many people don’t know (including an awful lot of writers) is that for the most part, books are not simply the product of one writer. In traditional publishing, of course, there are all kinds of professionals—various levels of editors and proofreaders, cover designers, book designers, promotions people, and others—involved in getting a book to market. But even before my book found a publisher—long before it found one, in fact—it was, to a certain extent, a collaboration.
Not only does my family indulge me in my perverse insistence on spending hours of my time engaged in labor that may or may not ever pay anything at all, but loads of friends encourage me to do the same.
I am a firm believer in beta readers—both the virtual kind you can find at a website like Book Country, and the face-to-face kind you know in the world where you spill your coffee and eat your scones. People gave me hours of their time reading and thinking about and offering critiques of my book well before I ever submitted it to professionals of any description.
Every bit of feedback helped. Sometimes I made enormous changes based on that feedback. Sometimes I enormously changed them back with the encouragement of other feedback. Sometimes I took suggestions immediately and without hesitation. Sometimes I let readers’ suggestions breathe a bit and decided not to take them. But all of this input from thoughtful, interested readers helped me slow down and think in fresh ways about my work. And freshness is important when you are engaged in a project that can take months or even years to complete.
So thank you to the friends who said “oh wow, I love that idea” or “but I don’t understand that idea;” to beta readers who scribbled notes all over the margins of my manuscript and sent it back by snail mail or who talked turkey over tea about things that needed to change. Thanks for the direct messages on Twitter to say “this is fabulous, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
All of you have given me an incredible gift and I am in awe of your generosity. And of course, thanks to everyone at Musa Publishing, who took a chance on JACK and on me and helped get the final book out there for everyone to enjoy.
About Shannon LC Cate: Shannon has been writing about family, parenting, politics and religion since 2000. Her work has appeared on Babble.com, BlogHer.com, Literary Mama.com, VillageQ.com, in Adoptive Families Magazine, Gay Chicago Magazine and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Jack, is available from Musa Publishing, but you can also read a serialized version of her previously unpublished novel, Eden, right here, right now! She lives in Chicago with her partner and daughters. Connect with Shannon on Book Country and follow her on Twitter @ShannonLCCate. Visit her writing blog at ShannonLCCate.com.