So, you wrote a story. Or a novelette/novella. Or a book.
It took you days, weeks, months, even years. If you’re not a full-time writer, you did this before and/or after work. On your days off. In between taking care of your kids or pets or other loved ones. You snuck in getting some words out while waiting in lines or on your commute (hopefully, on public transport if you were also writing).
You sacrificed time, energy, and other hobbies and interests to bring life to something that meant the world to you.
Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourself!
You’re not even close to done.
As any writer will tell you–though I might be the first–writing is often the easiest part.
The next step (unless you already have an agent) is figuring out how you’re going to publish. Are you going to tighten up your manuscript, edit and proofread, then query agents in pursuit of traditional publishing?
Will you cut out the agent process and query small presses and indie publishers?
Maybe you’ll self-publish?
All of these paths to publishing are valid. Publishing your Word Baby™ is an incredibly personal decision. This first step towards figuring out your path can be difficult. Weighing the pros and cons and how you will feel about your decision down the road can drive a person mad.
Regardless, you have to make a decision. Otherwise, Word Baby™ is never cradled lovingly by another human being. All the time you spent writing it was wasted–unless you’re the type of writer who likes reading their own work over and over. Which is fine.
Whichever path to publishing you choose, there are numerous steps to complete once you’ve made your decision.
Querying, agents, blurb writing, cover design, ISBN assignment (possibly), copyrighting (possibly), developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, proofing, formatting, marketing…begging readers to please, please, please, adopt your Word Baby™.
I’ve seen plenty of writers–who have managed to write a full novel–give up before they are published. Not because they really wanted to get an agent and publish traditionally and it didn’t work out, but because they got burned out.
The process is tedious no matter which option you choose.
Even after the display of stamina, the Herculean effort, shown in writing 50,000+ words, publishing can make a writer crumble.
It’s not just that there are so many steps and the process drags on for what seems like forever.
A writer has to face a lot of critique during the process.
Agents, editors, beta-readers, advanced readers, random family members, friends…writers get feedback from everyone. If the feedback is not glowing, it can be a strike to the ego. Even if the feedback is good, it’s often not consistent from one person to the next.
A writer has to somehow figure out whose advice to take and how to implement it into their fixes and corrections.
Writers find that if they traditionally publish–especially as a first-time author–they often have very little control once they sign a contract.
Self-published writers will find that their options may be limited based on their experience and skills, their budget, and what publishing avenues offer to them.
Even if a writer can keep a stiff upper lip and take critique like a pro, and they are able to figure out how to use that critique, as well as have the skills and experience needed to get through the publishing process…there’s the waiting.
Just signed a contract with an agent? Awesome! Now it’s time to develop the story, edit, proof, and figure out how to market it to sell to a publisher.
Which could take…forever. It may never sell.
You may get dropped by your agent.
Then you start all over.
Just signed with an indie publisher or small press? It’s time to brainstorm with a developmental editor. Then do the developmental edits. Which can take months or longer. Then there are 3 to 100 other editing levels to go through. Then proofing. Cover design. Interior formatting. Marketing strategies. Beta-readers. On and on and on.
In the end, when your Word Baby™ finally sees the light of day, you will have read your own book no less than a dozen times from front to back (if you’re lucky), and you might be sick of it. You may never want to see that book again.
If you manage to get to the end.
I’ve known many writers who got tired of the process and gave up on writing for anything other than pleasure. Which, writing for pleasure is fine, but I hate to see anyone give up on a dream.
I know a writer who didn’t get their book published until nearly 20 years after they wrote it.
I know a writer who spent a year writing a novel, found an agent after 6 months, had their manuscript sold to a publisher after another 6 months…and two years later, the publisher pulled out. The writer got to keep their advance since it was the publisher’s decision based on things the writer had no control over, but the process hit a roadblock.
They had to start over after 4 years.
In September of this year, I am going to finally publish a book I’ve been working on for 8 years.
Am I sick of that book yet? Somehow, I am not. But I’m tired of the process.
However, the point of me writing all of this is to not only warn writers and future authors that The Process can be a massive pain in the ass. It’s also to let them know that The Process can be trusted. It should be trusted.
The Process is in place to make sure that your Word Baby™ is the best Word Baby™ it can be.
Don’t let The Process defeat you.
If you can spend years of your life writing your book, surely you can devote as much patience to making sure it’s the best it can be.
PS If you were not aware yet, my next novel, an LGBTQ+ Magical Realism story, POSSIBLY TEXAS, is now available for pre-order. Click on the graphic below to reserve your ebook copy!
Tremendous Love & Thanks,