Writing and publishing a novel has always been something I wanted to do. It’s something that sort of happened in stages. As a kid, I had a notebook that pretty much consisted of first chapters. I would write the first chapter and then abandon it as soon as the next idea popped into my head. When I was in college I wrote a novel, based on Wuthering Heights for my senior project. There were blood, sweat, and tears involved, as well as an awesome academic advisor. I got an A- on the project, so it fulfilled its academic requirement, but I’m pretty sure it was unpublishable! Several years later, I did Nanowrimo. Having the first draft was only the beginning of a very long journey. Here’s what I’d tell myself (back then) about it, based on what I know now.
- You are not done. You are not almost done. You have the first draft. The final product will be very different.
- You will rewrite this book many times. You will lose count of how many.
- You will lose any sense of objectivity you may have once had about this book.
- Writing and keeping a long project organized becomes much easier with Scrivner.
- Other people need to read it. Lots of other people. Get beta readers, take their feedback and revise.
- Get an editor. At this point, a developmental edit will be the most helpful.
- Work on “showing rather than telling.” A lot. Most of the cliche writing advice that you read is true. But not all, so don’t accept it without question.
- Get another beta read. Revise again.
- Hire a proofreader. Hire one that copy-edits as she proofreads. You may think you’re almost done at this point, but you’re not.
- You will rewrite several scenes and make smaller changes to wording and syntax.
- You will painstakingly go through the manuscript fixing typos, commas, and capitalization.
- Then you will have some beta readers look at it again.
- You will probably need another proofread because your changes are likely to have all sorts of errors.
- At some point, while all of this is going on, you decided that indie was the way to go because traditional publishing takes so long. Try to put together a publication and marketing plan, while putting the finishing touches on your manuscript.
- Choose a cover. This is important. Even though they’re not supposed to, a lot of people use these as a way to select books.
- Work full time while doing all of this.
What I’m trying to say is that even though I’ve been a bibliophile since birth, I don’t think I knew or appreciated how much work went into writing them until I took this on. Considering the fact that it’s very hard to make a living writing fiction, most writers do this with limited hope of monetary gain. Sure we all dream JK Rowling dreams, but most have a sense of reality too. I think that I’ve started reading some books a bit differently since I began this journey. Even if I don’t like something I appreciate more the tremendous amount of work, effort, thought and passion that someone put into it.