On December 1st, the Writing Wenches will release their first anthology – Unwrapping Love, twenty-one romances for under your Christmas tree.
This is the first anthology I’ve been a part of and the first one I’ve co-coordinated for PageCurl Publishing and Promotion. It’s been hard. I don’t really think until this moment that I realized how hard it was. It. Was. Hard. When I finish the work for the anthology (probably this weekend), I think I might sleep for two days straight.
Now, I don’t regret a thing and I love these wenches something fierce. But anthologies present their own unique challenges that writing a single book doesn’t. Let’s talk about some of those.
1. Working with your friends.
This was probably the biggest challenge. But not for the reasons you might think. The biggest problem I had with working with my friends was fear. Fear that I’d get a story that was shit (I didn’t), or have to crush someone’s dreams of being a writer (I didn’t). You see, not everyone who wants to be a writer can actually be a writer. I’ve had clients before (not any of the Writing Wenches) who thought they were stringing together amazing stories but in reality, couldn’t string together a sentence. I was terrified. What if one of my FRIENDS couldn’t write? What the hell would I do? How would I handle it?
Even though all of the stories for Unwrapping Love are amazing, there were, of course, those stories that needed more work than others. This was the second part of the challenge. How could I tell my friends that their story needed work? It’s a delicate balance when you’re delivering negative feedback. You have to always find something good to say too. I hope I did a good job with that, but really, you never know. Everyone’s still talking to me, though. So there’s that.
When I publish my own books, I’m in total control of everything. I know when I need to send my manuscript to editing, when it needs to go to formatting, and when I have to upload it in time to make my release date. I’ve missed release dates before because I decided the book needed more work. It’s one of the fabulous things about self-publishing. But the Unwrapping Love anthology couldn’t slip. We decided many months ago that we wanted to release it on Cyber Monday. Working backwards, that meant that the final Kindle files had to be to Amazon on November 21st.
And then the challenge started. How do you coordinate twenty-one authors to ensure that the editor (me) isn’t editing until three a.m. on the editing deadline? And then how can you take twenty authors (I’m the 21st) and coordinate them sending their files back so that you can start formatting? How long should you build in for proofreading? What about reviews? Dates were agonized over and finally set. Dates were missed. Life happens. A couple of our group have had life totally get in the way. It does that sometimes and it sucks. But the coordinator (me) has to figure out a way to work around that. To make things work no matter what. Yes. That did involve some two and three a.m. sessions. And it involved wine. And scotch. And some cursing. Maybe a lot of cursing.
This was the biggest challenge. Who sent me a dedication? Who sent me a bio? Oh crap! Where is Wench #6’s story? Wait, the Giants won the world series? So that means Wench #4 needs to update her story. For the longest time, we did all of this in email and on Facebook. If we ever do another anthology (and I hope we do), everything…and I do mean everything…is going to be in a shared document. I know I lost hours searching for dedications, bios, and blurbs. At the 11th hour, I realized I didn’t have Wench #18’s bio. Midway through the 11th hour, Wench #21’s dedication was listed as Wench #20’s dedication. At another point, Wench #1’s story was actually in the formatted document twice. I don’t have any clue how that happened. Well, okay. It might have happened because of the scotch. But still, seriously. What the hell? More than once, I stared at my computer muttering because I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. I think I even fell asleep with my hands on the keyboard. I know I wore out at least two sets of mouse batteries. Formatting involves a lot of scrolling.
I don’t want any of you dear readers to think that this post is a complaint. It’s not. Okay, maybe it is a little, but while I would have done some things differently, had I had the benefit of foresight, I don’t regret a thing. Because for as many challenges as there were, I also had rewards.
My friends wrote amazing stories. Two nights ago, when I was finalizing the formatting, I had to go verify one of the stories. All I had to do was skim it to make sure all of the chapters were labeled correctly. But I found myself reading it again. Start to finish. Now, I edited it. I knew the story. And still, I had to read it again. It’s THAT good.
I had to push myself beyond anything I thought possible. I work a day job in addition to writing, editing, and co-running PageCurl. I haven’t been to bed before midnight in two months. But this anthology let me test my own limits. I had to solve formatting issues, legal issues (profit-sharing is tricky), and coordinate ARC reviews. There were days that balancing everything going on was exhilarating. For every day I wanted to cry, I had a day I wanted to fly. (No, not off the roof of a building. Well, maybe once.)
Seeing our hard work come to fruition. Not one single author in the anthology slacked off. Unwrapping Love is 750 pages of the blood, sweat, and tears of all twenty-one authors. Authors beta read for others, helped proofread, tested Kindle files, read through PDFs, gave opinions on blurbs, made trailers, coordinated blog tours, designed covers and teaser graphics, hosted the cover reveal party, and pimped our Thunderclap campaign. There wasn’t one Wench who phoned it in.
And finally, seeing my friends, the women (and man) I know I can always go to when I need a safe space or some advice or some photos of hot guys (or hot women) squee at our cover or the first few pages of the formatted file, anticipating how they’re going to swoon when they see our first review, and watching some of them jump up and down for joy at having a Goodreads author profile or seeing their name on Amazon (we have a couple of first time published authors in our midst). It’s possibly the best feeling ever.
If you’ve made it through this post and you’re curious about the anthology, you can go check it out on Amazon. It’s part of the Kindle Unlimited Program, which means you can borrow it for free when it comes out on December 1st, or you can pre-order it now and it’ll be delivered to your Kindle on release day.
We have a Thunderclap campaign to publicize the release, and we’d love it if you could support it. If you sign up, you’ll give Thunderclap the authority to post a single Facebook post or a single tweet for you on our release day. Thunderclap is a way to make something go viral. I hope you’ll consider helping us out.
And if course, if you buy the book, let us know! In fact, if you’ve made it all the way through this post and want to buy the book, you should be rewarded. Buy the book and email your receipt (you’ll get one) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone who buys the book before 11:59 p.m. PST on November 30, 2014, and emails their receipt, will be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card. That’s the price of the book.
But wait, there’s more. If I get twenty pre-orders, I’ll give away two $5 Amazon gift cards. And if we go for the stars and get FIFTY pre-orders, I’ll give away four $5 Amazon gift cards.
So go forth and pre-order Unwrapping Love and tell all your friends to do so as well! After all, we all need some sweet and steamy romance for under our tree!