Thursday, April 23, 2009
A roundabout way to reach your dreams
"Why on earth do you write in English?" That's the first question everybody asks me when they hear I'm a writer and publishing in the US. It does seem strange. After all, I'm German, have lived in Germany most of my life (with some stints abroad), and have unexciting German roots, nothing international there.
The answer is easy. We Germans have a simple approach to life. If you want to be good, make sure you study your subject at university. If you want to change track in the middle of your life, don't. If you want to become an author, keep on dreaming. If you want to have information about how to write, how to submit to a publisher, how to polish a manuscript, see point one. Or make sure you have excellent connections in the industry.
When I had come to that point in my life, I realized (thanks to the Internet) that Americans approach life in a different manner. They shrug, smile at you and say, "If you want it, you can do it." And then they show you how. You're a nurse, a gardener, a lawyer, a manager? Never mind. You can do it. Be prepared to work hard, be prepared for rejections, but go right ahead.
Next, I looked at the German book market and realized that most romances, chick lits, and mysteries were first published in English and then translated into German.
If the German market proves so difficult to crack, I thought, I'll take a roundabout way to become a published author. I'll write in English and target the US market first. Let the Germans make their own translations whenever they'll get round to it.
So I started to write my first novel in English. Then, in spite of all the help via the Internet, I was stuck. I knew I had to improve my craft but didn't know how. Everybody said I should join a writer's group, but up to today I don't know other writers anywhere near. Everybody said I should go to a writer's conference, but I couldn't afford the trip to the US. I felt as if I was a desert mouse, trying to learn to ski with all the other mice looking on and shaking their heads.
I took another big decision, googled around the Internet, and gave my manuscript to a professional book editor. I hit a jackpot. Elizabeth Lyon gave me such a detailed report, it was almost longer than my novella. She criticized every single point in detail, but she did it in such a wonderful way that it didn't hurt me. I couldn't wait to go back and make all the changes.
Then Elizabeth met the then-editor from Avalon Books at a conference and sent me their information. I submitted my manuscript, changed it again according to Avalon's suggestions, and one day received the incredible news that I had made it. Avalon Books had accepted Wings to Fly. The desert mouse had learned to ski.
There's just one drawback: I'm far away from "my market", and book signings are even more difficult to arrange if you first have to find people who understand the language! That's why I'm so happy about the invitation to blog -- it gets me in touch with the people who read my romances.
How about you? Have you ever taken a roundabout way to realize your dreams?