When I signed up for NaNoWriMo last year, one of the first pep talks recommended telling all your friends and co-workers that you were writing a book. The thought was that the fear of looking like a fool in front of your peers would keep you motivated to put pen to paper and write. As a result, I discovered an acquaintance had not only written a book, she won a writing contest and was in the process of having her book published. Wow, I was so impressed.
Post NaNo, we sat chatting about the process of not just writing, but the next step–publishing. I read a number of agent and publisher’s blogs as I try to get a feel for the industry. I want to know what works and what doesn’t I want to know how to submit a manuscript. Do I need an agent? (Yes). Can I submit directly to a publisher? (Not very often). Who is reputable? Who takes what genres? Isn’t the internet grand? All these questions and more are answered.
I was surprised to discover that my friend doesn’t have an agent. That is when I found out the publisher of her book will be a small regional press (not necessarily a bad thing). When I asked about her future plans as an author, I didn’t receive much information. She’s thinking of dabbling in a bit of poetry, has enough research on her initial idea to pursue it further, but hasn’t actually written anything else.
At a dinner party on the weekend, I discovered yet another friend had written a book. The conversation turned to writing and publication. This is where it became interesting. I mentioned agents. Both were further along in their writing, but neither thought agents were necessary. Also interesting was how little actual research into the publishing process either one had done.
Then we talked about editing. Neither one likes it. Okay, I don’t much like it either. It is hard work. This is the point where you read your work with a critical eye, determine what works and what doesn’t and start to cut. And revise. And cut. Both were very attached to their own words, so much so that one even mentioned self-publishing as a valid option. OMG, no!
To a certain extent I understand this. I write words and think they are brilliant. Later, in the cold light of day, not so much. Personally, I think highly successful artists in any medium are very self-critical, but also highly confident. They can take criticism and learn and grow from it.
I would like more than anything to be published, and not only that, to be successful. So I talk to people about my writing and submit my work for critique in a writer’s group. When I’m ready, I’ll let a select group read it and expect criticism. And then I’ll revise some more.