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A Publishing Journey: Head shots, biographies, and goose poop... oh my!

The road from manuscript to published novel is no longer a barely visible path through the woods. It is now a paved road with signs, and I have a GPS map to the destination with clear directions from my publisher. Having a knowledgeable guide on this journey is such an incredible gift. They've been down this road many times and have guided countless other authors safely through the road hazards and construction zones. It's overwhelming all the little things that need to snap into place to go from manuscript to published novel.

First up, my publishers asked me to provide them with a head shot for my book as well as for their website and any promotional material. It just so happened that I was scheduled to take senior photos of my beautiful niece just this past week. My sister was coming along as the "creative director" while I wielded the camera. Since we were already going to be at some beautiful sites, my sister agreed to take pictures of me between shots of my niece. We decided to make a family event out of it and brought my tiny little mother along. At 5' tall, and all of 100lbs soaking wet, we refer to her as our "pocket mommy". She doesn't take up much space so we tend to drag her all over when possible.

The good folks over at Peninsula State Park Golf Course allowed us to come and use the golf course with the spectacular views of the fall Door County foliage. The course was closed for the day due to construction, so they even lent us some golf carts so we could make time before the sun set. My mom couldn't stop smiling because it turned out, at 72 years old, it was her first time in a golf cart. Anna and Ava hopped in a cart behind us and off we went. Three generations of girls bumped and hopped all over the park, stopping to snap photos before racing off to the next location.

We were a well-oiled photography machine. Stop cart. Ava pose, I shoot. I pose, Anna shoots. Back in the carts we go. We raced the setting sun as we pushed those carts to speeds they likely weren't accustomed to, my pocket mommy giggling up a storm with every bump and dip. We had one more location to hit before we lost our lighting, so we scurried back with our carts and hopped in the cars to head to Ephraim's Anderson Dock.

With only a few minutes to catch photos before dark, we continued churning the gears of our photography machine. We took turns in different areas, hurrying to get the shot in the gorgeous orange and pink lighting. We didn't hesitate to flop down on the ground into what we quickly realized was goose poop as Anna, the creative director, barked orders.

"Doesn't matter! It will wash off! Turn your head and smile, Ava! Pop your collar!" Anna commanded. She could have taught a thing or two to an Army General that day.

We pushed through the smell as the last sliver of sun dipped below the horizon. The aroma of goose poop still lingered hours later as we looked through the pictures, quite pleased that Anna had made us endure it for the shot. Our favorite photos both were taken in steaming piles of goose poop.

After having my Facebook friends help pick out their favorite photos, I sent the top-voted head shots to my publisher. Luckily, you can't tell I'm sitting in goose poop in any of them. With that complete, the next step of the publishing journey began. I had to fill out a short biography as well as information for the book marketing team. My dedication was written, my biography complete, and all of my social media sites were alive and growing. Then came the form for the cover designer.

Each book is assigned an editor and a cover designer. The form is filled out with information such as character appearance, the general plot of the book, any nuances or features of each main character. Once that is complete, the book cover designer will get to work translating it and turning it into a beautiful cover. They have many things to keep in balance: keeping the cover genre appropriate so people know at a glance where it belongs; conveying the feel of the book; conveying the story readers can expect to find; creating a visual or the characters they will meet. Designing a cover that checks off all the boxes is no easy task, and I am excited to see what they come back with. I'm also looking forward to finding out what the name of my book will be. So many exciting upcoming reveals for me!

So, now that the publishers have clearly mapped out the road to a published novel for me, I am trying to kick back and enjoy the scenery a bit. I am in good hands and they are hard at work turning my manuscript into a novel fit for publishing. It's an exciting journey that has me anxious to get to the destination at the end, where a story I created in my head will be staring back at me from a book cover.

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