First off, if my title today seems somewhat informal – I apologize. By no means am I attempted to downplay all of the hard work that many, many independent authors put into their novels. But if they were honest with you, I'll try to be honest at least, at times it seems like there's a lot more going on than just writing the next Great American Novel.
I have discovered that writing a novel (or a manuscript as it is called before it is actually published) is the best part of the job. I wouldn't go as far to say as it's the easiest step, but if you know where your book is headed, it writes itself. If you want to know what a tough step looks like, consider rewrites.
After you complete your 400 page pile of festering feces, you're going to need to go through and fix all the spelling errors, all of the grammar errors, make sure everything is in its proper tense, fill plot holes, correct names, locations and time lines. Are you bored yet? No? Great.
Because then you need to have someone besides yourself actually read your slightly improved third or fourth version. Trust me, I speak from five rough draft experiences, you won't rewrite just once before you hand this drivel out. I've made as many as four versions before I gave it to my first outside reader. Now this reader, my family in my case, will find a whole bunch of errors and glaring mistakes. I don't mean one or two, or even ten. Dozens, if not hundreds of errors that need fixing. And wait, it gets worse. Your beloved may even tell you they can't get into one of your characters, or a certain plot twist. Dang, and you were almost ready to hit the publish button on one of those DIY sites.
Okay, you get everything fixed; ready to publish? Not if you want to be taken seriously. You need to run it by an editor first. There are five or six choices of editors; enough for a separate post itself. Let's just say they will bring new light to your works. At some point you will begin to question your sanity. Why would a person ever want to get into this game? Because it's fun, right? Remember how you always dreamt of becoming an author? Yeah, this is what you bargained for.
From the editor your manuscript goes through one more round of beat-readers and you make final corrections. Now you just need to format this baby and you'll be all ready. But wait a second there Tex. You got a cover for your darling? A professional cover that is? Two things will make you look like an amateur faster than white socks at a black tie affair. Not using a professional editor and not having a professionally designed cover. Skimp everywhere else you want. Just be sure to pay for these two items. For Book One of my WWIV series, I believe I paid less than $500 combined. And just so you know, the novel is doing just fine on Amazon.
I mention all of this because I am about to make the big push to get Book Two (Kids at War) ready for the reading world. I have a fourth version of my rough draft that has been read aloud between my wife and myself. Virginia is 20+ hours from the Twin Cities. We just couldn't sleep the whole time while the other drove.
There are several timeline issues I need to deal with before I can do my last series of rewrites. Between the timeline analysis and the following rewrites, I have about two weeks of work I figure. Then it gets read again by my wife. If it's in the spot I am shooting for, the manuscript (and some of my hard earned money) will be shipped off to the editor. Now he'll use up approximately four more weeks helping me get it just right. His input is invaluable to giving the final product a polished image.
After editing, we move onto a round of beta-readers who will undoubtedly find a few more errors and perhaps have a question or two on plot. While it's being beta'd, I will work with my pal Laura and get the cover finished up. If I'm lucky, two months from today (approximately July 1) I will have everything in hand ready for formatting. If I stay at it faithfully, I can get everything formatted in about a day. That's all of the ebook files, and the paperback version.
At some point soon after the 4th of July, I will hit the "publish" button and Book Two will be ready for public consumption. With any luck, it will quickly climb the charts and post acceptable sales figures, comparable with those of Book One.
But I won't have time to enjoy much of any newfound success. By August I'll be on vacation doing research for Book Three and wrapping up rewrites on Book Four. (Yes, Book Four is already down on paper. The books are sequential according to time only. You can read Book Four before Three. They'll be published that way at least). The process never actually ends folks. You just keep getting back on the spinning wheel each time you want to start again. And that my friends, is part of what it takes to get your ideas from your head and into your reader's hands. And I LOVE IT!
'Til next time, help someone in need – they're out there.