Donna Norman Carbone
A New Chapter
Updated: Jan 22, 2022
It’s been a month since I signed my first book deal with Red Adept Publishing to publish my women’s fiction novel, ALL THAT IS SACRED (release date: TBD), about friendship, love, loss and healing. Thus, I feel like I’ve entered a new chapter in my life, one I’d thought about, dreamed of, worked towards–worked hard towards. It’s both exhilarating and frightening at once. To realize a dream like this is still surreal. But as I firmly replant my feet on the ground, I plan on embracing this journey, every single moment. And, I invite you to take the walk with me.
So much has happened in only the first month, and I’m still waiting for my content edits (eagerly, maybe impatiently). Let me backtrack to THE CALL. My publisher called me when my students were just about to enter my classroom for Writer’s Workshop, yes my creative writing class of all classes. We chatted for about 5 minutes. As she splashed me with questions about my novel, I stood, red-faced, my head foggy (as my subconscious was full of questions: Does this mean…?), and I had to break it to her that I was in the middle of my teaching day. She asked me to call her after class, no big deal for her. But that 90 minute class moved like molasses. It was the BIGGEST deal for me.
After having a lawyer friend look at the contract, I signed it about a week after receiving it. Contract signed: check. With the contract came a host of spreadsheets, a list of TO DOs that both invigorated me and scared the hell out of me. Reality: check. Some of the terms appeared like a different language. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that this, too, will be a process. I haven’t arrived, as I remind my student teachers when they innocently think the student teaching experience is akin to a How To manual. I focused on what I could do, the “Before Publication” tasks, assuming I'll learn the jargon organically when the need arises.
The first thing I did was join groups, one for all of the publishing house authors and another, more specifically for newbies like myself. In both, I have found the most supportive and welcoming authors who led me to other groups. I spoke on the phone to a mentor from the publishing company assigned to me for almost an hour. She helped me navigate some of the tasks in front of me right now and explained the big picture/timeline too. One of the suggestions she made was to follow the #2022debuts Facebook group. And I’m glad I did; they set up a website with links to new authors’ accounts and feature new releases as they become available. Myself and a fellow Red Adepter newbie made a fast connection and have been helping each other along, more importantly supporting one another through our little learning curves. Support systems are necessary.
The first task was to make an announcement on my already existing social media accounts. I’d thought about this a lot; in fact, it was one of my goal posts. “When I finally get my book published, I can call myself an author [vs. writer], and make a public announcement.” I honestly was bursting at the seams to share my good news, especially to those who have been with me through the long haul–I mean, some dating back to elementary school (yes, I was writing even then). Coming up with just the right words took me several iterations. It had to be just right. One only gets the chance to proudly declare she’s having her first book published once. The feedback, encouraging messages, and congratulations were overwhelming–in a good way. To say I’m humbly grateful is an understatement.
A reporter from our town newspaper (Cheshire is actually referred to as a village it’s so small), reached out to ask if I wanted to be featured in the “Around Town” section of the paper. Yes, of course (I’m already considering I need to embrace the press if I want my novel to sell well) Already thinking like an author vs. a writer: check. The interview was so much fun and he had great questions! Press-prep: check. The librarians at the high school where I teach displayed the article prominently with balloons on easels, both in my classroom (what a surprise!) and in the library. True confession: I’ve always been uncomfortable being the center of attention, but I know it’s something I’ll have to get used to if I want to promote this book.
Onto my next task, right at the top of the TO DO list, get my social media accounts in order. This, too, has been a process. I had a skeleton of a website, more so as a placeholder because agents and publishers want to see that. I reached out to a tech friend of mine to talk about buying a domain name for my author account & I did it. There exists a donnanormancarbone.com: surreal moment number.... I synced it with my website, and made some revisions. It isn’t perfect, but it’s much better and I’m slowly accumulating actual content. I already had a Facebook author page and a Twitter Account, so I really just tweaked those. After some deliberation, I decided to create an author Instagram account (to keep my personal stuff personal). While Instagram has posed the biggest challenges in terms of finding photos and content, it’s also been the most fun. My creative side leans into photography and graphic design, but I’m struggling with making it look as professional as I want it to. I also happen to embrace challenges. I’ll get there. This, too, is part of the journey.
I’m looking forward to receiving my content edit and digging in. I love noodling (a term for making edits I adopted from my college creative writing professor) my work. I’ll also be working on the dedication, acknowledgments and summary pages for my book; all are in rough draft format right now.
And I’m open to all of the exciting experiences on the horizon. There are so many possibilities. Please follow along with me. I hope to update you on an occasional (aiming for monthly) basis. I’d love to hear your comments and I’ll be sure to respond. Also, please sign up to subscribe.