Here is a progress report (as promised) on the process of getting a book to the market place if you have not been scared off by all the negative information on the demise of the publishing industry as we know it. Ebooks are the rage, but as I blogged previously, unless you are a hyperactive whiz at social networking, only your beloved family, and not even all of your closest friends, will read your (expensive to your checking account) epublished work.
1. The work itself. In my experience books take between three to five years to reach maturity. First there is the magnificent rush of spending twelve weeks of a certain summer writing every day and producing a draft. You are so excited you tell your closest and dearest of your latest obsession (big mistake) and of course they want to read it. But it is like reading tea leaves hidden in a gutter of muddy waters. You can sense they are underwhelmed. At this stage do not do share it with anyone. Those closest to you are your least reliable readers because they know too much about you and read as if you are all at a pyjama party telling stories. Never, ever, never, never, send this draft to an agent or publisher however tempted you are to share the next great read that will rock the publishing world.
2. Put that draft aside for at least a year and the following summer take a long trip somewhere that leaves you little time to write.
3. When the dark days of that following winter roll around take out the manuscript and read it to see what is salvageable. Not much. Find a new structure, change the third person narrative to first person, leave out all the bits that you love but nobody else will be at at all interested in reading, decide on past or present tense or both. How outside the box do you want to be? The first draft was for you, but who are you shaping the work for now?
4. This process can take two to four years. Finally, when you know every word of the manuscript so thoroughly and can tell anyone on what page to find it. Finally, when you have worked so hard on the first fifty pages that you feel sick at the thought of reading them again, you are ready for an editor.
5. The best editor you ever had is probably dead by now or doddering around your native country that you left decades ago. The other best editor who did such a great job on you memoir also published decades ago, despite your efforts to do so, is no where to be found. The editor you used on your most recent book was “meh” and way over-priced. So with little faith in achieving results, you turn to social media networks and put out a request for editors, and are deluged. Everyone who writes, it seems, has an editor “to die for.” After conversation with many you pick one who seems sympatico and the process of truly beginning to shape your work is underway.
6. This is where I am at. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime if you know of an agent who will actually interact with a writer as a person and not a cog on the stalled Publishing Express, someone who will not take almost as long to get back to you as it took you to epublish your last book, send me their name. My history with agents it at least worthy of its own blog entry (if not two) and will appear in due course.