I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.
I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.
Today author Sandra Cox relives those days of manual typewriters and correction fluid that made creating a manuscript so interesting, especially when you needed to correct a paragraph halfway through the book!. Not to mention the snail mail approach to getting a publisher!
I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Sandra Cox
This is a bit of a tough one because I began writing in pre-historic times, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and writers pecked on typewriters. I had no idea computers, software, hardware, printers and emails were waiting in the future.
One morning I woke to birds chirping and mammoths trumpeting and decided I wanted to be a writer. Except for a few well-received essays in high school and a handful of English courses in college, I had absolutely no background in writing. I didn’t even know what a thesaurus was. I just knew I enjoyed creating stories.
The one thing I did have in my empty toolbox was a knowledge of books. I loved reading. I was a voracious reader. And while voracious may not work anymore to describe my reading, I still plow through several books a month. How can anyone not read? But I’m getting off topic. So armed with my ideas I began to write. This was challenging on a couple of levels. Creating a story and getting it on paper.
Today creativity is my major challenge. Then, getting words on paper.
Each typed page needed to be proofed before it left the typewriter and, unless you were a perfect typist which I wasn’t, involved a lot of white paint—correction fluid—from a little bottle called Wite.Out. Wite.Out was a secretary’s and writer’s best friend. Yes, back in the dark ages people were called secretaries instead of admin assists.
After typing out the manuscript, which usually involved several hundred pages, came the rewrites. Say you did a serious change on page ten that involved adding a scene or scenes that ran into extra pages. If you were lucky, you only had to retype that chapter then go back and use your trusty Wite.Out to change the following page numbers of the rest of your manuscript. Yup, the good ole days.
Next step was finding a home for your story. Again, there was no computer to do a quick search of who wanted what. The Writer’s Market Guide was, and probably still is for those who don’t publish Indie, an invaluable tool. I spent hours combing through pages looking for the appropriate home for my genre.
After I drew up a list, I began to send out my stories. Remember this was still the ice age, and typewriters and carbon paper still roamed the earth. There were no emails, no attaching three chapters and hitting the send button. Instead, it was purchasing legal size envelopes, stuffing your letter and chapters inside and heading for the post office. Then waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more, for a response that sometimes never came.
In that respect, things haven’t changed, have they? Often times when you did get a response, it was a form rejection letter—something else that I imagine hasn’t changed—and you started back at square one. Other times, the publishing company or agent wanted to see the entire manuscript. Then it was off to the supply store to buy a box to mail your manuscript in and have copies made. It was a fairly pricey and time-consuming process.
Researching was also more challenging than it is now. The information was there, but not at your finger -tips. Instead of tapping a few keys and doing a search, you had to track down physical books, which usually meant hitting the library or a bookstore.
And there was no self-publishing unless you went vanity and paid for it.
Since those days I have added to my toolbox and am always on the lookout for new tools. I have a few that I’d like to share, which you may already know of and use.
For synonyms, I use. Power Thesaurus
For covers: Pixel Studio I love this group. They are so helpful and their prices are unbelievably reasonable.
For those of you who make your own covers, trailers and or memes: Bookbrush
AND For general information and support for most aspects of writing and publishing, IWSG Insecure Writers Support Group.
So, back to the beginning: If I’d known then what I know now, I would have probably waited a few years to start writing.😉
©Sandra Cox 2022
My thanks to Sandra for this entertaining retro perspective of publishing before word processing dispensed with the services of typex and the like… having experienced similar frustrations, I am sure many of you who are of a similar age will relate.. for those who never experienced the joys of manual typewriters then I am sure it reads like a horror story lol… I know Sandra would love to hear from you.
About Sandra Cox
Sandra is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener. She lives with her husband, their dog and several cats in sunny North Carolina.
Her novels consist of All Things Western and More. She is an Eppie finalist, award winner and category best-seller.
A small selection of Sandra’s books
One of the reviews for Mateo’s Blood Brother – Sandra’s latest release
Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2022
You may have read Sandra Cox’s Mateo’s Law. After badgering Sandra for a year, she finally published the sequel to this paranormal police mystery called Mateo’s Blood Brother. It’s one of those books where you read the first line…
“A shadow fell across the desk. Unexpected. Eerie in the predawn gloom. Nerves thrumming…”
…and go make another pot of coffee because you know you’re going to be up all night.
I made a big mistake starting it at 7 pm.
Mateo’s Blood Brother (2022) opens with wolves howling. To Sheriff Mateo Grey, sheriff of a sparsely populated county in Montana and a shapeshifter, that could be real wolves or it could be his father or a former girlfriend, Delilah–both also shapeshifters. His father is fine but he tried to kill Delilah so she’s probably mad at him.
Mateo has finally found the perfect woman and they are engaged. She knows about his special skills and he’s made amends with his childhood friend, Jesse, Chief of Police of the Blackfeet Nation. Mateo’s life is as good now as its ever been, but his wolf instinct tells him he’d better solve the ‘issue’ with Delilah before really calling his life settled. No doubt she wants revenge for breaking up with her and then pushing her off a cliff, and Delilah has a nasty temper, one that will spill over to Mateo’s best friend Jesse and everyone else Mateo loves. Once Delilah’s attacks start–and they do–it takes more than just Mateo and Jesse to stop her, but luckily, they have friends they didn’t know about and some they hadn’t counted on. Even then, to survive takes a special tool they hadn’t expected to ever use.
If you love your modern westerns infused with native strength, paranormal excitement, and wolves, you’ve found your book. And the cover says everything you need to know about the cunning, majesty, and intrigue of wolves.
Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Sandra’s retro look at publishing…thanks Sally.