One Writer’s Story to Publication

Hailing from San Pedro, California, writer Candi Sary graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a degree in psychology and has had a finalist position in many different writing competitions. Last summer, Candi won a full-manuscript editing offered by our very own AUTHORNOMICS Blog.  Candi persevered through the difficulties of manuscript editing until her novel was finally ready for publication. This is her story…

I have been writing for almost 18 years now while raising my two kids. The year 2012 is bringing big changes to my life as a mom and as a writer. This is the year both my son and daughter have gone off to college, and this is also the year I am finally getting published. Just as it took time, love, hard work and commitment to get my kids ready to go out into the world, the same can be said for my novel.

In my 18 years of writing, I wrote seven novels. I made the finals in several writing competitions, but I also received countless rejections letters. The small successes along the way kept me from giving up, but ultimately it was a love for writing that really kept me going.

In 2009, I began querying my seventh novel, Black Crow White Lie, and found an agent. She asked me to work with an editor to clean it up before submitting to publishers. The editor suggested I cut almost 10,000 words, and I was shocked. I didn’t want to take away so much of my story, but since this guy had worked at 2 major publishing houses, I had to take him seriously. I made myself go through his edits again with an open mind and I started to understand his suggestions. While not cutting all of it, I went ahead and took out quite a bit. Deleting so much was painful, but I learned an important lesson about staying with the story, and getting rid of excess. Once the re-write was complete, I did see a big improvement in my novel.

Through the literary agent during our time together, and then later from my own submitting, several publishers asked to read Black Crow White Lie. While they ultimately rejected it, they still had really good things to say about it. It made the top 6 finals in the 2009 William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition, and in the semi-finals of the 2010 ABNA contest, Publishers Weekly reviewed it and said, “This is a praiseworthy, poignant work.” With my other novels, I knew when to stop submitting and move on to the next, but based on the feedback, I felt that this one was special. I just had to figure out why it still wasn’t working.

I went through all the rejection letters I’d collected and looked for common criticisms. I started to see what they were saying, but I wasn’t sure how to make the changes. I decided to get in touch with another freelance editor I’d read about through Authornomics. He read the manuscript, gave feedback and said he felt the book could do well with significant revisions. I agreed with some of what he’d said, but not all, so I wanted another opinion. I’d stayed in contact with a woman from a publishing house who had put Black Crow White Lie on their short list of considered titles. Even though they ended up rejecting it, she was still a fan of the book and I knew she understood the heart of the story. So I contacted her again, told her about the editor’s feedback and asked her opinion. She was extremely helpful in making new suggestions on what she thought needed to change. And she believed I could make those changes on my own.

With her direction in mind, I did a major re-write. From my previous experience, I understood that deleting parts of the story that didn’t work only left room for new writing that could work better. I knew my characters so well after years of being with them, and so the re-write turned out some of my best writing. After months of working on it, the manuscript was much stronger than before. And then a little luck came my way. Just when I completed these changes, I won a free manuscript edit from Authornomics’ Katie Flanagan in a Twitter contest. It was such perfect timing. She went through my new and improved manuscript and helped with the final touches. Some of my favorite edits from her were areas where she would write, “Really?” And that one word let me know that what I’d said was unrealistic, or just didn’t fit. She had a great eye for detail and the novel was at its best.

I had already submitted to so many publishers. I knew it would be difficult to get them to re-read it. But before giving up completely, I tried a few small publishers I’d never queried before. And one accepted it. Casperian Books said “yes” and Black Crow White Lie will be released October 1, 2012.

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