I hope you all have enjoyed my cover reveal of “The Vu: Gathering.” I cannot wait to share this story with you and, indeed, I have been working day in and out to finish revisions and polish it. Speaking of, I have recently been asked about my technique for publishing the best book I can. How do I craft the story from beginning to release? When do I know it’s time to hit that nerve-wracking PUBLISH button?
My technique has greatly evolved over the last three years. In 2013, I thought all I had to do was hit Spellcheck and I was good to go. After all, the story was raw and beautiful, right? Then, I went back and read it. OH. MY. GOD. Can we all say REPULSIVE together?
That’s right! Odds are your first draft “masterpiece” is really just a crock of shit piled together, especially if you wrote it reallysuperfast.
(Five minute break to soak this in, scream into your pillow, etc.)
Okay, to be fair, it’s probably not all shit. However, you have to realize there are undoubtedly errors, continuity problems, and creative issues. It is guaranteed to happen. My first draft of “The Vu” was terrible. Terrible. I wanted to delete it immediately and swear off writing ever again. Then, I went back and changed what jumped out at me. I hired an editor. I subscribed to an editing program called AutoCrit. I gathered thoughts from reviews and readers who agreed to share. I made the story better, the characters more in-depth, and the book much shinier (Get it? Polished? Heh…heh…).
So what is my book-writing process? Allow me to lay it out for you in nifty bullet points (as my American Studies professor liked to say).
- Write the first draft (no-brainer…without this there is no book)
- Let it set for a couple weeks, then read (preferably on printed paper) and mark up with potential changes. Revise.
- If you have a list of alpha and beta readers, this is the time to hit up the alphas for feedback on the story. Not the technical stuff….THE STORY.
- Revise again, this time with AutoCrit (amazing program!). My favorite sections are: Strong Writing and Word Choice, which help with things like adverbs (which you want to use sparingly and with great purpose), passive voice (also use as little as possible), and showing instead of telling. There are other programs out there, this is just the one I personally love.
- Send to living, breathing editor for a line-by-line. Revise again.
- Send ARC copies to beta readers, revise accordingly (if more than one points something out, seriously consider the validity of their statements).
- Shelf it for another 2-4 weeks, or order your paperback proof from Createspace (without publishing) and then read when it arrives. Mark it up. Revise. I guarantee you will still catch things.
- Publish. Try to stay away from the urge to overdo the changes. If you are seeking the traditional route of publishing, this would be the moment to send off queries. Make sure those are polished to a shine, as well.
When do I stop changing and editing? When I have followed all the steps and I order my OCD to shut up and move on. It’s not always easy, but it is mandatory. At some point, you have to consider your work finished, publish, and move on to the next WIP (Work in Progress).
What are your steps to a good manuscript?