Metamorphosis – n. A striking change in appearance or character or circumstances

This is exactly what is happening to my books right now – changing from one form to another. Going from self-published to mainline publishing – and getting a huge makeover in the process!

I’ve been debating about if or when to start blogging about the journey OUT of self-publishing into a mainline, commercial publisher. I think there are many out there who are curious about what I’m going through – and I, for one, feel like I’m experiencing a whole new world. But for some reason, I always feel very private about this part of my career – mostly because everyone in the publishing industry seems to have differing opinions of what you should or shouldn’t do to be successful as an author. As my #WritersRoad Chat peeps on Twitter discussed recently, there is a LOT of conflicting advice. And the typical hope-filled, well-meaning writer can become easily dismayed through it all.
But it’s important to note that everyone’s journey to publication is DIFFERENT. If you’re reading this and you’re hoping to be published someday, I hope you realize that my story will not be yours. Nobody’s journey is the same – and that’s GOOD. It means there are many ways nowadays to reach your goal. Everybody measures their success differently and has different goals and reasons for why they write. So please keep that in mind if you’re wanting to join me on this journey. I hope that my experiences are encouraging, but know that they come with a heap of insecurity in myself and with unwavering faith in my God to get me through each step!
So let’s talk about Stage 1 of the Phantom Island Metamorphosis…
Let the fart jokes commence – they already have. Yes, Wind in its original form was 192,000 words. (Did you know you read a book THAT long?) So the first order of business was to split it in half for two commercial editions. Nobody had EVER offered to do that in all my years of querying – Tate was the first. So I found a comfortable splitting point in the word-count AND the plot. I honestly like the way it’s split now – they’re on the Island, Whitnee’s powers are growing, the romantic tension in Whitnee’s love triangle is in an exciting, where-is-this-going-to-lead place, and the questions about Whitnee’s father are well-established. But going from one book to two means new titles. We are for sure sticking with the PHANTOM ISLAND series title. And I think I have come up with working titles for ALL eight books that still fit my original vision. I’m DYING to spill the beans about the two new Wind titles, but I feel like I should wait for now… But here’s a hint – they both have WIND in the title. Haha.  

I’ve been praying for YEARS for someone on the other side to really CARE about the Phantom Island series. I didn’t know if that would come through an agent or an editor or what. After years of praying, God gave me Jessie, an awesome Conceptual Editor at Tate Publishing. I didn’t get to pick my editor, but it’s clear Somebody did for me. At first I was completely overwhelmed when I received her first round of suggestions for change in Wind, Book 1. It seemed like so much – mostly in the Camp Fusion parts (and for good reasons). But I had determined in my heart I was going to have an open mind and really LISTEN to what my editor said before putting my foot down… especially when I so clearly felt God answering my prayers through her already. 
(Keep in mind – Tate is a little unconventional in that the author gets final say in any changes made. They keep us very involved in the whole production and decision-making process. Coming out of self-publishing with all the creative control, I found this works WONDERFULLY for me.) 
In that first phone conversation, she said some things that she will probably never know were DIRECT answers to some very SPECIFIC prayers of mine (unless she reads this blog. Ha.). First of all, I wanted somebody to work with me who actually loved the story and could enjoy it on a personal level FIRST – not just as an editor. When discussing the Whitnee-Caleb love drama and how one part needed to be removed because readers would want to “claw Whitnee’s eyes out,” she got particularly passionate about her reasons. With a sheepish laugh, she admitted, “I kind of got caught up in your book when I was reading today.” 
YAY!! She actually enjoyed the plot line!! And then on top of that, another direct prayer was answered, because I’ve always wanted someone who would care about Whitnee as a character and how she translates to the reader. Already my editor was trying to protect Whitnee’s characterization in several of the changes she wanted to make. Whitnee carries this story, so she must be likable. (And I won’t discuss how much of her is based on ME… so I definitely can’t handle people hating her. Haha.) So the fact that she pointed out specific places where Whitnee looked egotistical or a little inconsistent was really meaningful to me! I don’t want amateur writing to cause Whitnee to come across that way when she’s NOT. Fortunately, Jessie has caught my vision when it comes to characters. Not only that, but she referenced Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and other magical YA novels that I greatly admire – we read the same books! YAY! There were so many other confirmations for me through that one phone call that I don’t have time to share them all – plus, some things are just confidential between editor and author. (Like who Jessie REALLY likes – Caleb or Gabriel? “Well, as your editor, I really shouldn’t take sides, BUT…”) 
I do think that your editor is your partner. It’s a business relationship, so both sides should feel like their thoughts and opinions matter and make a difference. With the first two books, I’m always thinking about how to keep my established readers happy, and she’s thinking about to how gain new readers for me – there’s a really good balance in there somewhere. I think that it is easier for me to take Jessie’s advice because I know she has a vested interest in my book’s success. There have been some changes she suggested that I absolutely vetoed – on the basis of my vision for the rest of the series. But once I explained the vision to her, she was quick to understand and go along with it. Most of what she has suggested are things I completely agree with – but I don’t know that I would have been open to it coming from anyone else. If that makes any sense…
I can honestly say that thus far, all major changes/cuts that had to be made in the first book are changes I am COMPLETELY comfortable with! I vowed in my heart that the second I felt like I cheapened my own story, I wouldn’t allow the change. But so far, that has not been the case. I will certainly blog more in the future about what specific changes original Phantom Island fans can expect… but not until they are all finalized.
All in all, Stage 1 of this Metamorphosis is going very smoothly – Tate Publishing has been completely organized, professional, and seems to really believe in my work, as well as in me as an author. I am so thankful to be on this journey! And to Jessie – if she reads this – I’m so glad to have you! Thanks for being willing to stay on the project with me for the next three books! I’m still praying for you as you nurture and grow my book-babies with your expertise. And then someday, I look foward to reading YOUR book!!

What’s Coming Next:
1. Removing original self-pubbed Phantom Island: Wind  books from all online venues! (This is proving difficult since I can’t get ANYONE at AuthorHouse to call or email me back on this. Grrr.) If you still want one of these editions, better order NOW at – that’s for the autographed editions that I still have available!

2. Waiting on Jessie’s edits on Wind Book 2 – then rewriting and making my changes in a two-week time period.

3. Receiving Jessie’s second round of edits on Wind Book 1 – finalizing on my end before sending off to Cover Design and Layout! (At that point, I’ll think about publicly announcing the new titles…)

4. Formatting the first book of Water in the next couple of days (which will also be split like Wind) so it can be placed in the production schedule at Tate. It looks like September (my birthday month) is the magical month for Water to enter this whole process. SO. EXCITED.

Thanks for following my journey – I’ll try to update the Metamorphosis as exciting things continue to happen. Pray with me for a December release date on the Wind books!