Saturday, June 1, 2013

Let's Write a Book (and maybe get it published too)

So, you want to write a book?
You have an idea for a story, a character, or a setting - maybe you have an idea for all of these.
You were inspired by a movie, a book, a news piece - a friend, and the juices are flowing.

You think, it can't be that hard. But you're wrong. Writing a book is both arduous and time consuming.

Should you still do it? Yes, if you have a story, a character, a setting - and it's itching at your brain, keeping you up into the wee hours of the morning, and all you think is how you want to go there, hang out with that person, and enjoy yourself - yes, you should still do it.

What you need to know - as previously said, it's time consuming. You will miss things, TV shows, movies, public outings, parties, concerts, sunsets, walks on the beach - you will have to sacrifice to make the time to write. There is no short cut, there is no way around it.

First, you should plot - outline, even if that means scribbling down the story over and over and over, expanding it each time until it fleshes out into a more complete vision in your head.

Or may you want to write by the seat of your pants. Your choice.

Then, you sit down and your write. You write scenes, and chapters. New paragraphs as you skim through the thesaurus because using the same word over and over (and over) is making you doubt yourself. (You know enough words, sometimes they slip just out of reach - don't worry, you'll find them again. I swear.)

And then you write a book - it will probably take anywhere between 6 months to years, and years. And when you're done - walk away. Go out with all those people you've been ignoring. Check out netflix to get caught up on TV shows you missed. Take someone out on a date. Go to Mexico and get drunk on tequila - and eat the damn worm. (unless your vegan)

In two weeks to a month, pick up your book again, and read it - edit as you go. A-ha! Now those words are coming back to you, and you can see the parts you need to flesh out, or thin out. So you repeat the above step, and you sit your butt down and you get to editing. You put on your blinders, turn off your phone - try your hardest to ignore facebook (and twitter, and instagram, and whatever other social media, virtual party platform your addicted to) and you edit.

You don't con a family member/friend to edit it for you.
You don't hire someone to edit for you.

It's your vision.
It's your blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, lonely testament to that vision you had - oh, so long ago.  So you sit down and YOU edit your own book.

Now it gets tricky - now you find someone to read it for you. A family member/friend. Loved one, co-worker, kid who mows your law - you have them read it, objectively, and you give them a list of questions to answer:

Does this suck? Or is it the next Tale of Two Cities?

Tell them to be honest, because little white lies that are said to "not hurt your feelings" will, in fact, hurt your writing.

If they hate the scene you loved the most, change it.
(Get at least 4 or 5 people to read it, by the way. Then look at the reoccurring complaints)

Once they've all read it, and responded, guess what you get to do? You go SIT IN YOUR CHAIR and write/edit some more. Spice it up. Add foreshadowing. Kill of characters that ruin the story. Fix it.

Call your beta readers, have them read it again. Have them look for misspelled words your tired eyes have missed (13 or 14 times), and fix it. And now your book is done.

...let's publish a book...

Now take your book and give me a summary - in two pages. Good.
Now take that summary and smash it down to a paragraph. Good.
Now take that paragraph, and give me a sentence. Great.

Figure out your elevator pitch.
Figure out your target audience, genre, if it will be marketable in China V Japan.


Take this info and make a query:

Single sentence.


Small paragraph about your writing life (no need to add your cats and dogs).

Take the query.
Take the synopsis (summary).
Take the first 5 pages of your book.

Set it aside.

Go check out agents.
Look them up.
Follow them on twitter.
Stalk their blog posts - and guest blog posts on other sites.

Do they fit?
Do they like what you're offering?
Do they represent someone you love?

Stop telling yourself that J.K. Rowling got rejected 12 times before someone picked her up. 12 ain't nothing. I've had over 50. I don't actually keep track. It could be over 150.

Don't keep rejection letters, but keep the agents name, so you don't (accidentally) re query them with your book.

And now wait.

So... let's write a book. Even after ALL of that, let's do it. Why?
Because, outside of giving birth to a child, it's the most amazing thing you'll ever experience. Because it's exactly like giving birth to a child - a child of your imagination. And this one won't light your rug on fire. (hopefully)

Always remember to leave comments on books you buy.
Always reach out to authors you love, and let them know you love them.

Because it gets very lonely in here, writing a book, and it's nice to know others are reaping the benefits of all you left for later to do just that.

Now that you're done reading this.
Go write your book.



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Katherine! Spent the day correcting those pesky little edits "from v form" - and my eyes are crossing! Still love it. :)