So, you’ve finished what you expect will be the world’s next literary masterpiece. The piece, by the way, that you think will definitely sell as many copies as Harry Potter and Nineteen Eighty Four and all of Stephen King’s novels combined.
Well, maybe you haven’t even finished yet.
I’ve talked a fair bit about procrastination on this blog, so one more mention and you’ll probably be starting a drinking game that involves taking a drink every time I mention the word “procrastination”. Maybe you should check out this old post.
So, enough of that.
Finishing a book takes time and effort, unless you’re Stephen King or R.L Stine. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything. A few years ago, when I was in the middle of my final high school exams (and somewhat into my first year at university), I finished an approximate 100,000 word novel. It was so terrible that nowadays I look at it as a guide of what not to write.
Whether or not your book is excellent or average, congratulations, you’ve written a novel.
That’s the easy part over.
Now, you can’t just submit to publishers, query to agents or even just slap your book up on Amazon. It’s time to edit!
Didn’t I say writing the novel was the easy part?
First of all, take a break from your work. Perhaps a week or two, not a year or two. That’s procrastinating.
Each time you read through it, you’ll probably find something new to correct. Whether it’s the wrong use of “too”, commas being used where a semicolon should be, making someone from the 1750s say “y’all”, or calling a character by the wrong name, it’s all there. Maybe you’ve decided you absolutely hate the protagonist being called “Colin”, and think “Frank” sounds better.
Don’t keep doing this for too long. Even well-known books have mistakes.
Now you’ve edited it to actually sound like a respectable book. Or maybe you’ve just gone “eff this,” deleted the document and are planning on completely rewriting it. At least take a moment before you delete your hard work. Take a break from editing and come back. If you still hate its guts, decide then. Whether it actually is terrible or excellent is a different question. Many writers think their work is horrible and, after their death, it becomes internationally acclaimed.
Note, this doesn’t apply to everyone.
Writers spend an awful lot of time complaining about how horrible their work is. Or maybe you’re the opposite like MDickie and think your work is the greatest on the planet. It doesn’t matter. You haven’t given up on this novel yet. You like it. You think the characters are awesome. What happens to them is pretty interesting. Now you’re hoping someone else – the Big Six or the small presses, and most importantly, readers – will enjoy it.
A lot of people have spoken about their publishing journey. I’ll most likely be talking about the journey after editing in a future blog post. Sites such as http://drobertgrixti.com/2012/06/21/getting-published-for-newbies/ and http://myperfectpitch.com/ as well as the tips on sites of book publishers are helpful in any case.
That’s it for this week. By the way, neither Colin nor Frank are ideal character names in my opinion, but at least they’re better than Janimaiix or Vhonda-Yvette.