Since I’m nearing the end my YA/NA urban fantasy’s second draft, a couple of people have asked me “Do you have a publisher yet?” At first I was taken aback; I feel a million miles away from publication. But the question makes sense, especially coming from someone who doesn’t know how traditional publishing works. Here’s a basic breakdown:
Write a book: It can be anywhere from 60,000 words to 110,000 words depending on the genre. 80,000 words is a generally good goal.
Edit the book X times: The first draft is awful, the second is okay, the third is passable, and so on. You need perfection. Good luck with that.
Research your market: Know where your book fits into the publishing world and find agents that represent books like yours.
Query agents: These are the middlemen, the gatekeepers. Expect a million rejections and hope for that one, magical acceptance.
Start a second book: Start writing whether or not your first book has been accepted. If it’s all rejection, either your book isn’t publishable or the market isn’t ready for you.
Get a contract: The agent should know the market and hopefully will get you a good deal with a good publisher.
Market yourself: Publishers don’t put enough money into marketing, so be prepared to work hard.
Finish your second book: If the first goes well, your publisher will be hopefully want to sign another deal.
If you’re one of those people who is wondering when on earth I’m actually going to publish my novel, here are the steps. Thank you for checking up on my work; I’ll keep you updated as I go along. I’m working hard on step 2, but I’m also preparing material for steps 3, 5, and 7. It pays to be prepared!
Editing is eternally fascinating. When you approach the second draft of your novel, you’re a lioness crouching in the grass, watching her prey, biding her time, and planning the kill. For a successful hunt, you must analyze the situation thoroughly.
In “3 Steps to a Sustainable and Streamlined Editing Process,” I help you start the process of crafting a practicable plan. And to my nerdy glee, I get to dig into three main editing stages over the next two weeks. The editing process is complex, messy, and exhausting–but completely worthwhile.
… I start to list all my projects and explain why they’re exciting. With a varied, ever shifting workload, there’s always an update on ongoing projects or a few new ones to catch them up on. Soon their eyes glaze over. My work isn’t exactly a predictable 9-5. Every day is vastly different than the next, so I have much more to talk about than they expected. After a while they grasp onto the one thing they know I’ve got going on: “Are you still working on the same novel?”
Unless you’re the type to pop one out every year or to toss your draft when something better comes along, novels are long term commitments. So yes, I’m working on the same novel.
Writing is my life. It’s strange to start answering someone’s question and then immediately realize that the person really has no idea what I’m talking about. I’m sure that people in a lot of fields feel that. I really have no idea what my Dad is talking about when he gets into technical jargon–sometimes far before the jargon even starts coming out. (Sorry Dad!) So how do we talk about our lives and our work in a way that helps others understand?
For me, I feel like I ought to condense my explanation. Maybe give the broad scope: I write for print and online magazines, I’m working on two books, and I freelance edit on the side. (Even that sounds like a mouthful, but believe me, that’s the short version.) And then I should focus on whatever they seem most interested in.
Do you come across this problem? How do you explain your work?
It’s amazing how much work goes on even before the pen hits the page. This morning I spent an hour scheduling interviews and communicating with various collaborators. Then came the interview prep and research. Then the actual interviews. Two today: one with a designer and one with a composer. After that, I’ll transcribe both and then locate which quotes to pull or information to use.
Once all of that is done, then I get to write. So now at 4 in the afternoon I’m finally settling down–not to write yet, but to organize outlines and update action lists.
Writing takes a lot of information gathering. Sometimes what’s inside your head is sufficient, and that’s fantastic. You’ll get through the process much more quickly that way. But as your writing projects get more complex, so does the information gathering side of things.
But that’s the fun of it, right? When we research, we get to learn about all aspects of life and interact with so many different personalities. Even though we don’t always travel far, our understanding of the world broadens with each story, each article, and each book.
If you want to engage more complex projects, I’d advise that you read through StoryForge’s articles on collaboration and networking. You can also find a few pointers on research here.
There’s something enormously refreshing about fall–yes, I live in CA. I’m keenly aware that we don’t really get fall–but the air gets a crisp edge, gourds and pumpkins arrive in markets, and I get to make as much tea as I want. It’s nostalgic and cozy. Plus, sweaters!
On top of all that, I love the surge of energy that November brings to the entire writing community. We unite for a month of sleepless, semi-stressful crunch time. And we love it.
Even though I’m not one to jump in for the 50k, I tailor the month to fit what my writing projects need. This year that means getting ahead on my novel’s 2nd draft by writing my 3rd POV scenes. If I’m going to meet my New Years goal, I’d better use the NaNo energy to help me stay on track
Maybe my next novel’s 1st draft will coincide with NaNoWriMo and I’ll truly go for the 50k. I’d love to be able to say that I actually won, but that’s just a pride thing.
What goals are you setting? Are you a NaNo rebel or do you go straight for the win?StoryForge has a full November of encouragement and writing tips coming up, and I can’t wait to dive in.
I’ve disliked this phrase for a long time. But instead of tossing it away with the rubbish, this week I explored deeper. I delved into its meaning, finding its benefits but also finding precisely what it lacks:
“Creative Foundations: The Controversy of Writing What You Know”
‘Write what you know’ is a hackneyed maxim. When people learn that I’m a writer, they grasp onto the one thing they know about writing. They ask, ‘write what you know’—that’s a thing, right? And I tell them yes. Kind of….READ MORE
“Creative Foundations: Multi-Media Inspiration”
Writers don’t need to go into the world to tell their stories, do they? Just as artists are stereotyped as mentally imbalanced—Van Gogh’s ear comes up in that conversation a lot—writers are stereotyped as recluses. We type away at our desks…..READ MORE
What has your experience been with this overused advice? Has it helped you or limited you?
Rosie always encourages me to keep pressing onward. She’s pretty awesome like that.
About this time last year, I was prepping lesson plans and reviewing notes. But as this school year begins, I’m staying home. My writing projects have doubled. And alongside the ones that I listed in my last post, I’ll also be working on the second draft of my novel. It’s so exciting to be able to do this full time.
With all of these projects, I have less time for blogging. When I started in 2010, my goal was to foster creativity, help fellow writers, and practice the craft. But my creative energy has many outlets. I write weekly for StoryForge Productions and I love the community there, because I can regularly help fellow creatives with articles like “Micro Pacing: How to Time your Dialogue.” The number of large, long-term projects that I’m working with means that I’m practicing the craft daily. Now that I list everything out like this, it seems that the blog is obsolete. But really?
Where does that leave the blog?
The blog and I have had 4 good years, and I’m not going to ditch it just because I’m entering a new stage in my career. It needs a new direction, a more casual and personal angle. I am going to spend lest time on my posts, but that won’t make them less meaningful. I still want to partner with fellow writers wherever I go and be a helpful resource. Thank you for hanging with me thus far! I hope to enrich the writing community as I share my journey with you.
….and apparently I’m ignoring my blog, which is very sad.
With all of this going on, I feel so blessed to be able to pursue a career in writing. When I was 10, I just knew that I wanted to tell stories and read books. In high school, I started writing a novel. And in college, I realized that I could indeed get paid for writing if I tried. And now–I am! I’m constantly surprised by how much I love writing, even when the most unexpected assignments come my way.
With all of these changes, I feel like it’s finally time to adjust the blog’s focus–but it’s midnight, I’ll have to discuss that next time 😉
I went on vacation last week to the Sierras. It was a long week of everything and nothing. I ate good food, took hikes, smelled wildflowers, and watched a hottie fisherman (my husband) catch huge rainbow trout. We played games, watched squirrels, and spent a few hours in a local sports bar to watch the world cup final. We then mourned for Argentina.
I can’t stand boredom–those hours of feeling like I could be more useful elsewhere–but it sure did work out well for me. When removed from computers, new home organization, and social obligations (all of which I missed quite sorely) I accomplished a surprising amount on the writing front: Continue reading →
On July 1st, my writing girls came over and we swapped manuscripts. My 88k went to Jen, Liz’s 85k went to me, and Jen’s 27k went to both of us. Jen has been waiting to read the ending of my novel for about five years–so it’s about time!
One of the best attributes of a solid writing group is trust. We are vulnerable with each other in sharing plot points, story ideas, and raw drafts. Each group meeting is full of conversation and laughter, giving us a chance to feel out the dynamic. If we can trust each other in the smaller issues and critique in healthy ways, then bigger projects should be no big deal, right? Continue reading →