Friday, June 27, 2014

What's Hard About That? Part 2

See how easy that was?

Writing a manuscript is probably the easiest part of getting a book published.

No seriously, slaving away for weeks, months, even years to develop a story is the no-brainer portion of publication.  You can’t get published without a book.  Getting a publisher and/or an agent is definitely not a picnic either.  The fluctuations in the market can make a solid story suddenly uninteresting to even the kindest hearted agent or publisher.

But let’s assume you’ve managed these first two steps toward traditional publishing.  So it should be a simple matter of setting a date and waiting for the book, the glory and the money, right?

At least that’s how it worked for me.

Except it didn’t.

The acquisition editor sent me a general acceptance notice for my book, and that’s when the real work (and waiting) started.  I happened to be friends with my editor, Shawn, so she kept me informed along the entire path.  Shawn let me know that, like all editors, she wasn’t sitting, waiting for my gloriously well-written and beautifully prosaic manuscript to come through the door.  Instead, she had a queue of six to ten books at any given time, and, as the latest edition to that queue, I was at the end.

No worries, I thought naively, I’m a fairly competent writer.  There shouldn’t be more than a few logical concerns and maybe some typos for Shawn to correct.

. . . you aren't as good a writer as you think, Rob?
At least that’s what I believed.

Except I was wrong.

After a few weeks, Shawn managed to turn my manuscript back around to me.  Thinking about it now, with five or so other authors ahead of me, that was like record time (thanks Shawn!).  Immediately, there were all kinds of technical problems.  New terms suddenly became the bane of my existence.  Dialogue tags were all wrong.  A list of filter words required review and revision of the entire 80,000 word novel.  Some personal crutch words, “just” and “then”, had to be removed or replaced.  There were issues with flow and point of view that I hadn’t even considered.

I wanted to argue.  I wanted to fight and rail and scream and yell and throw things.

Well, not really.  All of that requires effort and a proven track record that I don’t have.  Instead, I talked with Shawn, at length.  She helped walk me through all the various issues.  If I needed more instruction, a different take on a technical issue, or Shawn wasn’t available, I conducted my own research.  The internet is rife with blogs and articles on how to write.  For the most part they’re informative and consistent.

Tears of Heaven went through no less than ten revisions between Shawn and me before we felt it was
He knows the name of things.
ready for publication.  Shawn informed me the entire time that we were moving really fast, and I believe her.  There are a couple of small typos and errors still in the manuscript that we missed and two different copy editors missed.  This is actually true of any book, unless it’s been re-re-re-released and edited every time.   

I submitted my query letter in May, 2013.  The book didn’t release until December.

That’s seven months, after the completion and acceptance of my novel, until it was deemed ready for publication.  And that’s just for the manuscript.  None of this takes into consideration the other elements, such as various marketing efforts, the cover design, or base presence building that are required.

So, when someone asks me when the next book will release, I have to keep in mind this best case scenario following the completion of the draft.  Granted, some of the marketing elements are now in place and in play.  But the rest, including the editing process, are reset.

All this is to say that even if I had the manuscript written today (which I don't) the book still wouldn't release until early 2015.  Patrick Rothfuss, you're forgiven. 

George R.R. Martin, you are not.

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