4/13/11

Layman Publication, Part 1

I'm in the process of writing a Facebook note detailing the publication process for my non-writer friends, because I've had to answer too many times that "finished book does not a NYT bestseller make." This is part 1. (But if all the parts are this long, there will definitely be some cutting.)
  • Finishing a book is great, but it means nothing more than that. People don't automatically come knocking on your door offering to represent your book. And that's because they know something...
  • ...your book needs editing. Only in very, very rare cases is the first draft of a book any good at all, much less publish-able. So you must now go back through your book, revising the plot so that it flows; deleting useless words like "seemed," "just," and "actually" (She just actually seemed like she was happy, becomes She was happy.); giving your characters more depth; making sure the weather doesn't suddenly become sunny when it was just storming. When a writer says that they're editing, it's not spell-check that they're talking about. It's a whole lot more, and it can take as long as it did to actually write the book. But it's not time to start knocking on publication's door just yet...
  • ...because now other people are going to read it. A good writer finds "critique partners" who are honest, smart, familiar with what's needed for a book to publish, and willing. And then they let them read it, critique it, and, in some cases, tear it to shreds. The writer now has the choice to hide under the covers and cry...
  • ...or go edit some more. And edit she does. Fixing all the stuff that the critique partner said was redundant, or overwhelming, or didn't make sense, or was impossible. More spellchecking. More adverb deletions (I hurriedly ran to the door, becomes I hurried to the door.).
Next up: the querying process.

Did I miss anything? Is your process similar? How is it different? (I know I may have missed a few "rinse-repeat" editing steps... :)

3 comments:

Paula said...

Nope, that pretty much sums it up. My son (who is ten) keeps asking, "Is your book published yet?" Sweet guy, but no, I need an agent first, I tell him. And my twelve year old daughter says, "I thought you finished that one already?"

: ) Sigh.

Sara B. Larson said...

Don't you love the questions people come up with? It's hard to remember that not everyone understands how this business works. Great post.

Lydia K said...

I love how people go from "You're writing a novel?" to "When will you make your first million dollars?"
LOL!