I Want to Be A Writer Series
Reaching the end of your story is one of the greatest accomplishments in your life. Do not belittle this moment by bypassing and not allowing yourself to enjoy it. Many people begin with the intentions of reaching this point and give up. I have read the beginning of many books, written by potential writers that have more skill than I could ever dream of possessing, but they have yet to finish the first book. The art of writing requires more than just skill in grammar and descriptive phrases that leave you salivating for more. You must be able to see the whole story through to the end, and that takes a very special skill. It requires endurance, courage, and determination, the very things that cannot be taught, and yet, people spend their entire lives striving to reach that point. Soak every ounce of joy out of this moment. You will need it to push you through the next process of agony, publication.
My intention of writing this series was to give a little insight into what is necessary to be a writer. I will not go into the depths of the publication process in this series. But I will give a little bit of advice on the next few steps you must take in order to prepare your manuscript for that process.
Right now, you have a very raw manuscript. It is filled with spelling and grammar errors. Do not ever expect the spell and grammar checker on your word processor to catch all of your errors. Yet, do yourself, and the person you are asking to help edit your book, a favor, and use it to catch what it can. Aside from those errors, you are going to find holes that need to be filled to give your story more meat, or spots that are overflowing with too much detail that must be removed in order to keep your story flowing smoothly. This is what most authors refer to as the “hacking process”. Stephen King has referred to the editing process as “killing your babies” because no author wants to hack out what they have worked so hard to write. The editing process requires you to take on a whole new perception of your story. You are no longer the writer, you are now the reader that must determine what is absolutely necessary for your story, and what is nothing more than a little fat that needs to be removed. At this point, the cost of publishing your book begins to take precedence, because no one wants to spend money on the unnecessary garbage. The more words, the higher the cost of publishing. The more it costs to publish the book, the more you must charge to sell it. It becomes a very tedious process in which you must weigh the importance of every word you have written. Too much garbage can destroy a book, but not enough meat can ruin it as well. You are the author, only you can determine what the final result will be. But don’t worry. You will go through so many editing processes, you will practically have every word memorized by the time the book is published. If you are self-publishing, then do yourself a favor and be sure to use Beta Readers to assure that your book is ready for publication.
Another hurdle you will have to tackle is summarizing what your book is about. If you are seeking a publisher, then you must learn how to write a query letter. A query letter is one of the most important things you will write, because what is in the query summary, is often used as the summary that is placed on the back cover or inside jacket of your published book. In one or two short paragraphs, you must not only clearly describe what your story is about, but this is also where the readers will gain their first insight into what your writing style is. You have very little room to sell your book and you must take advantage of every word you write. It is absolutely vital that you research and learn everything you possibly can about query letters.
There are many ways of researching. You will find a treasure trove of knowledge already online. But there are other means of researching that are just as valuable. Networking and learning from other authors is vital. Join writing groups and ask those that have experience to read what you have written. Take every opportunity you can, and learn as much about this process as you can. This is something you will have to do for every book you write in the future and you can never know enough.
Author Anna Silver wrote a great post about an event she participated in that helped her tremendously in learning how to write a strong query letter. Thinking out of the box as she did will often give you more opportunities to rise above what everyone else is doing. You now have a product to sell and it’s time to put on a whole new thinking cap. But no matter what happens from this point forward, you are a writer that has written a book. You have risen above and achieved what you only thought was a dream. Congratulations!