It means that you must set your standards high and create what I call a grinder. You must set up a system that holds your writing feet to the fire, and makes you get better at your craft. ~ James Scott Bell
The journey of a book, from genesis to garden of inspiration takes us through the valley of many sorrows, aka the editing. The time spent refining and rewriting our original work is a long, seemingly never-ending road. As an author friend said the other day, with her work-in-progress, it took her two months to write it and so far, it’s taken her nine months to edit, and she’s ‘still not finished.’
As the famous meme which went around Facebook showed, as new authors, we start out imagining ourselves spending our days in throes of inspirational wonder, running through fields of daisies with stories in our heads. However, the reality is we spend 15% of our time writing genesis draft and the rest of our time editing the beast, trying to tame this monster we’ve created into something presentable we can show the world.
Stephen King said, ‘what separates the talented from the successful is a lot of hard work.’
Writers need to be prepared to a) get the copy written, and b) amend and polish their words until they can see their faces in them.
I recently finished working on my work-in-progress, ‘The Sasori Empire.’ My critique partners and I had done all that we could do. I sent the story to editor, Donna Blaber, of Lighthouse Media Group (info@LMG.co.nz). I had worked with Donna on my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ in 2015 * http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I, and knew she was quick and on top of her game. Nine days later, Donna had sent the fully edited paper version of the manuscript back. It really did feel joyous to work with professional tweaks and changes.
Over the following few days, I transcribed the edits into the manuscript. I liked that sometimes instead of taking words out, Donna had linked sentences together and made them longer. Using James Scott Bell’s analogy of critique being “the grinder,” these edits were buffing those last few rough edges off.
The next step in the process, I sent the new version of ‘The Sasori Empire’ to the proof-reader.
This last round of professional editing will take a few weeks. When I have transcribed those edits, it will be time to submit to Createspace for book design, production and printing.
But, in the meantime, at this stage in the journey of a book, the work of organizing the launch needs to be done. Peer reviews need to come in for inclusion on the back cover, the artwork finalised, the publishing/printing and cover design lined up. A media page is helpful and can be used across platforms to update all social media sites. For the launch party, there’s the venue, the helpers, the speech, catering, the invitation, and the guest list to organize. This stuff can be a lot of fun, and also a lot of work!
One bit of advice I’d give after having published one book, is to be humble enough to ask for feedback on a sample of your work, tapping into the wisdom of friends who are successful authors.
Prior to launching my first book, last year, I asked a friend who is an established author, if he would read the first page and give me honest feedback. He did. Just those few words from a seasoned author’s perspective helped so much. I made a couple of subtle changes that altered the tone and set the first chapter of my debut novel over the edge.
I wanted to touch the lucky stone again, as it were. I asked, would you read the first page? He very kindly said, send the first chapter. His response came in this morning; again he made a couple of on point suggestions. He said I was giving too much information too soon, and suggested I let the reader get closer to the hero, Aden. I made a couple of tweaks along these lines and voila, it has transformed the all-important opening chapter to a shade above the level it was on before.
They say it takes many a village to raise a child, well, it takes a small town to produce a good book. My advice?
In the final stages of preparing your baby for the world, get as many eyes upon it and voices involved as you possibly can. It makes a world of difference. Good luck!
Talk to you later.
Yvette K. Carol
Writing is always this: an adaptation of the sacred into smut. Dragging the divine out of his Sky Chariot and into the human dirt. ~ Chuck Wendig
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