Friday, July 3, 2009

So much to do after the first draft

By Heather Justesen

It's been a busy but exciting couple of weeks for me. Cedar Fort has agreed to publish my second book, "Rebound." I finally got my third book out for a final round of critiques so I can get it polished and submitted this fall. I also have made some headway on publicity for my first book.

Does it sound a little crazy? Yeah, it can be, but I tend to like crazy.

One thing I never thought about when I started writing was how much work went in once the book was finally finished. First there are edits--and for some of my earlier books, the edits have been 20+ as I learned what worked and what didn't. Thankfully, I've learned a lot about writing since then, so I don't go through quite as many versions, but getting things right takes a bit of time and tweaking.

Second, I send my book into at least two rounds of critiques from other writers. Now that I've joined a weekly critique group with several other bloggers on this site, they are my first line against stupidity. One of the major advantages to having a supportive, honest, trustworthy critique group is that I have to have a chapter to take with me each week. That means I have to keep writing--even if it's only a few pages.

After my group, there are edits and corrections, polishing and tweaking, and then it goes out to more writers for critiques. This one is a full-manuscript critique. Since my weekly group takes five or six months--or more--to complete a book, there's a big loss of continuity. When you're reading that final scene, it's hard to remember what happened at the beginning. My final round of critiques helps me fix flow problems and continuity issues along with catching the problems I edited into the book in later versions.

Then there are final edits and I get to submit. And then the wait begins. Thankfully, the two to three months Cedar Fort takes to review manuscripts is considerably less than some of the other publishers. Once I have a contract, I like to do one last round of edits because I'm a bit anal. This is a very light edit, just looking for the little typos I missed in my previous rounds of insanity, and a few sentence tweaks. Really, at this point there shouldn't be much I want to change. If the book isn't polished and very clean already, it's not ready to submit, so this is mostly for my peace of mind, not because there is much to do.

And then we get to start planning publicity--which is a whole other topic and I'm sure we could all spend the next several weeks discussing everything we've done or plan to do, things we've heard of others doing, and how they seemed to work. Regardless, expect to spend a grundle of time getting everything organized and contacting everyone you've ever met to let them know you have a book out because when the book is accepted, the real work is only half done.


Marcia Mickelson said...

It is a lot of work isn't it. I'm tired from just reading this post.

Good luck on the publicity. It's not my favorite thing. Let me know if I can help in any way.

Cindy Beck said...

Wahoo, you're going great guns. Sometimes I wonder if all authors wouldn't benefit from a marketing class ... or two. Unfortunately for us creative types, a writing class is more fun to take than a marketing class.:)