Getting What You Ask For

The biggest problem with feedback is following it, especially when it might entail a mountain of work.

Yesterday I received the Magic City Writers’ Group edits for the final chapter in my first novel. There are always problems, and I expected incorporating the group’s suggestions would take a week or two. 

But the extended discussion, which I recorded so I can study it more closely, revealed systemic problems that require substantial time and effort to address.  If I am lucky and clever the needed changes might delay my plans by only a few weeks, but it could easily turn into a months long slog if I’m not careful.

It is moments like this that builds frustration with the writing process; when you think you are near the end of one leg of the journey only to see the road stretch on farther than you imagined.  You can see your destination, but realize getting there will be longer and harder than you fancied a day ago.

What Kind of Editing is Needed

Repeating my habit of leaping then looking, I recently began interviewing professional editors with the idea of hiring one to perform a developmental edit of my first book; an expensive and thorough examination of the novel that wrings out unaddressed problems and strengthens the final product.  (Another symptom of my “leap then look” tendency is that I didn’t bother to create a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the manuscript before contacting a slew of editors.  Yet an0ther task to heap on a full plate.)

But getting a developmental edit assumes I have already self-edited the novel to the best of my ability.  I thought I was close to that point, only to now realize I am not.

I need to continue interviewing professional editors, but have decided to wait on the developmental edit.  Instead I will request manuscript assessments from a few editors; professional reviews of the work as a whole; less expensive and less thorough than a developmental edit, but excellent for identifying a manuscripts weakest and strongest areas. 

Such professional reviews of the completed work might be useful now, or perhaps it would be better to wait until I address some of the problems raised by the writers’ group.  I am on the fence as to whether I should plow ahead with manuscript assessments or perform yet another self-editing pass first. 

In either event, once I have worked my way through those professional critiques I will  determine which editor to use for a developmental edit and later a copy edit. 

The Long Haul

My general plan is to self-publish sometime next year.  A reasonable goal, but one requiring considerable work to accomplish.  The list of things I must do is long and intimidating: incorporate edits from my writers group, create a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the manuscript, get a few manuscript assessments and address their comments, decide on which editor to use going forward, get a developmental edit and address the problems it reveals, get a copy edit and clean up the grammar and style problems it uncovers, learn about the publishing industry in a deep way, legally create my publishing house and deal with the headaches managing it brings, create a website for my publishing house, hire designers for the interior and exterior of my novel, replace my author web-site with a more professional (i.e. less ugly) one, have the book typeset and galley proofs created, hire a proofreader and fix any last minute problems they spot, make arrangements with print on demand vendors,  try to get my novel reviewed prior to publication, make my book available on Amazon and other retail sites, and so on. 

And that doesn’t even mention marketing, working on the second book, my day job, or a lot of other unavoidable, and time consuming, issues.

Transitioning from amateur writer to professional author requires turning a hobby into a small business.  Producing a quality manuscript takes money, time, and hard work with no guarantee of any reward other than seeing a professional finished book with your name on it.  It is worth the cost and effort only if you love the story you are trying to tell, and I do.  That love keeps me going through the long nights as I stumble through the convoluted process and scale obstacles in my path.

Getting What You Ask For

The biggest problem with feedback is following it, especially when it might entail a mountain of work.

Yesterday I received the Magic City Writers’ Group edits for the final chapter in my first novel. There are always problems, and I expected incorporating the group’s suggestions would take a week or two. 

But the extended discussion, which I recorded so I can study it more closely, revealed systemic problems that require substantial time and effort to address.  If I am lucky and clever the needed changes might delay my plans by only a few weeks, but it could easily turn into a months long slog if I’m not careful.

It is moments like this that builds frustration with the writing process; when you think you are near the end of one leg of the journey only to see the road stretch on farther than you imagined.  You can see your destination, but realize getting there will be longer and harder than you fancied a day ago.

What Kind of Editing is Needed

Repeating my habit of leaping then looking, I recently began interviewing professional editors with the idea of hiring one to perform a developmental edit of my first book; an expensive and thorough examination of the novel that wrings out unaddressed problems and strengthens the final product.  (Another symptom of my “leap then look” tendency is that I didn’t bother to create a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the manuscript before contacting a slew of editors.  Yet an0ther task to heap on a full plate.)

But getting a developmental edit assumes I have already self-edited the novel to the best of my ability.  I thought I was close to that point, only to now realize I am not.

I need to continue interviewing professional editors, but have decided to wait on the developmental edit.  Instead I will request manuscript assessments from a few editors; professional reviews of the work as a whole; less expensive and less thorough than a developmental edit, but excellent for identifying a manuscripts weakest and strongest areas. 

Such professional reviews of the completed work might be useful now, or perhaps it would be better to wait until I address some of the problems raised by the writers’ group.  I am on the fence as to whether I should plow ahead with manuscript assessments or perform yet another self-editing pass first. 

In either event, once I have worked my way through those professional critiques I will  determine which editor to use for a developmental edit and later a copy edit. 

The Long Haul

My general plan is to self-publish sometime next year.  A reasonable goal, but one requiring considerable work to accomplish.  The list of things I must do is long and intimidating: incorporate edits from my writers group, create a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the manuscript, get a few manuscript assessments and address their comments, decide on which editor to use going forward, get a developmental edit and address the problems it reveals, get a copy edit and clean up the grammar and style problems it uncovers, learn about the publishing industry in a deep way, legally create my publishing house and deal with the headaches managing it brings, create a website for my publishing house, hire designers for the interior and exterior of my novel, replace my author web-site with a more professional (i.e. less ugly) one, have the book typeset and galley proofs created, hire a proofreader and fix any last minute problems they spot, make arrangements with print on demand vendors,  try to get my novel reviewed prior to publication, make my book available on Amazon and other retail sites, and so on. 

And that doesn’t even mention marketing, working on the second book, my day job, or a lot of other unavoidable, and time consuming, issues.

Transitioning from amateur writer to professional author requires turning a hobby into a small business.  Producing a quality manuscript takes money, time, and hard work with no guarantee of any reward other than seeing a professional finished book with your name on it.  It is worth the cost and effort only if you love the story you are trying to tell, and I do.  That love keeps me going through the long nights as I stumble through the convoluted process and scale obstacles in my path.

New Reading, Song, and Sheet Music

I have added new content to my website, all of which can be found at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.

Included is a reading of Chapter 5, Through Persuasion and Force,…, as read by my wife Kathryn.   The direct link to the reading is http://gods-among-men.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Book1Chap5Kathryn.mp3

Kathryn has also completed a new song, called Zephyr.  It is the anthem for the kingdom ruled by the Rihtwis clan.  It can be heard at http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/Music/Zephyr.mp3.

I have also posted PDF’s of Kathryn’s sheet music for everything she has completed so far.  Here are links to her sheet music.

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/At%20the%20Lady’s%20Behest%20Comes.pdf

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/I%20Remember%20Marcus.pdf

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/I%20Remember%20Marcus%20Reprise.pdf

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/Zephyr.pdf

For those paying attention, yes we have skipped chapter 4, …And Strikes Down the Inner Circle.  I will be getting back to it as soon as I can either find someone to perform a reading of it or free up some time to do one myself.

Rich has offered to do a reading of chapter 7, …And Critical Moments Relived….  I will be sending him the updated text shortly and will post his reading as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I have to incorporate the Magic City Writers’ Group edits to chapter 11, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’!   The reviews of the chapter were very positive, but some of the changes will require a substantial amount of effort to complete.  I expect it will take me a couple weeks to complete that task.

Once I finish with those edits, Lindy has offered to perform a reading of that chapter.

As you can see, quite a lot has been happening all at the same time.  And I still have to resume my efforts to find an agent, revamp my website, find artwork I can display on the website, and get cracking on editing what I have already written for the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,….

Until next time, have fun and party down.

A Moment of Reflection

It has been a long time since I added a post here.  This is not because I haven’t been writing, but because I have been incredibly focused on writing.  For over a year, all my energy and efforts  have focused on completing the second complete draft of the first book in Gods Among Men, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…

At the beginning of October I finished the second draft.  This completed a wrenching experience in which I rewrote much of the book from scratch.  Some scenes I rewrote multiple times.  I edited every page, ever paragraph, multiple times. 

Along the way, my editing skill grew immensely.  Enough that since finishing the second draft last month, I performed a complete edit on every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, and sentence.  I managed to cut over third of pages from the second draft, removing over 200 pages (over 70,000 words) from the novel.  Essentially, in one month I completed a third draft.  

I feel proud of the first novel’s current state and consider it complete, for the moment.  (More on that further down the page.)  All chapters are available for download at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  I invite anyone interested to read what is there. 

What’s Next?

It is going to be hard to get At The Lady’s Behest Comes…published.  It is long for a first novel (over 150,000 words, whereas most first novels are around 80,000 words) and it ends on some major cliff-hangers.  But it is a good story with strong characters, and I have faith that eventually I’ll see it in print.

I have contracted a professional editor to review the novel and provide feedback on what I must do to make the work more presentable and palatable to agents and publishers.  I expect that his suggestions will prompt further changes, and possibly more rewrites.  I use to dread rewrites; now I accept them as challenges that improve my skills as a writer. 

And In The Meantime?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Last year during NaNoWriMo I wrote much of the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,…

I’m late getting started this year, already almost 5000 words behind where I should be.  I plan to focus on writing a hodgepodge of scenes I need for the second and third books.  This will help me flesh out a variety of characters and scenarios better.  I’m hopeful  that by focusing on scenes I’ve thought about for years I’ll rapidly make up the lost time.

By the end of November, I expect to receive some feedback from the editor I hired.  December and January will probably be devoted to incorporating his suggestions and comments.

After which I will look for an agent.  I expect the process of getting an agent and publisher to dominate much on my non-writing/non-work time next year.

And With Regards to Writing Next Year?

My goal for writing next year is to finish my partial first draft of the second book and begin the process of editing it.  As chapters reach the “presentable” stage I’ll post them on my website, http://gods-among-men.com.  

It would be overly optimistic to expect to finish an edited version of the second book by the end of next year.  I think it likely that I will finish a rough first draft and have final edits of many chapters by then.

And I keep toying with posting MP3 readings of the first book on my website.  I think it would be fun to do, but also quite time consuming.  I’ll likely keep bouncing this idea around in my head and never get around to actually doing it.  But I might well try a few chapters and see what happens.

And Your Blogs?

The blogs served an important function for a time.  They forced me to write regularly and focus my thoughts.  Maintaining them like I did helped push me to write often enough that I developed good work habits.  I expect I’ll focus my future writing efforts on my story, and blog infrequently at best.

That said, I sometimes look back over old posts and find what I wrote there interesting snapshots of where I was at that time.  There is value in putting random thoughts in permanent form, insight to be gained from reviewing previous ramblings.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to add post more regularly, but I doubt it.

Until next time, have fun and party down.

A Moment of Reflection

It has been a long time since I added a post here.  This is not because I haven’t been writing, but because I have been incredibly focused on writing.  For over a year, all my energy and efforts  have focused on completing the second complete draft of the first book in Gods Among Men, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…

At the beginning of October I finished the second draft.  This completed a wrenching experience in which I rewrote much of the book from scratch.  Some scenes I rewrote multiple times.  I edited every page, ever paragraph, multiple times. 

Along the way, my editing skill grew immensely.  Enough that since finishing the second draft last month, I performed a complete edit on every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, and sentence.  I managed to cut over third of pages from the second draft, removing over 200 pages (over 70,000 words) from the novel.  Essentially, in one month I completed a third draft.  

I feel proud of the first novel’s current state and consider it complete, for the moment.  (More on that further down the page.)  All chapters are available for download at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  I invite anyone interested to read what is there. 

What’s Next?

It is going to be hard to get At The Lady’s Behest Comes…published.  It is long for a first novel (over 150,000 words, whereas most first novels are around 80,000 words) and it ends on some major cliff-hangers.  But it is a good story with strong characters, and I have faith that eventually I’ll see it in print.

I have contracted a professional editor to review the novel and provide feedback on what I must do to make the work more presentable and palatable to agents and publishers.  I expect that his suggestions will prompt further changes, and possibly more rewrites.  I use to dread rewrites; now I accept them as challenges that improve my skills as a writer. 

And In The Meantime?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Last year during NaNoWriMo I wrote much of the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,…

I’m late getting started this year, already almost 5000 words behind where I should be.  I plan to focus on writing a hodgepodge of scenes I need for the second and third books.  This will help me flesh out a variety of characters and scenarios better.  I’m hopeful  that by focusing on scenes I’ve thought about for years I’ll rapidly make up the lost time.

By the end of November, I expect to receive some feedback from the editor I hired.  December and January will probably be devoted to incorporating his suggestions and comments.

After which I will look for an agent.  I expect the process of getting an agent and publisher to dominate much on my non-writing/non-work time next year.

And With Regards to Writing Next Year?

My goal for writing next year is to finish my partial first draft of the second book and begin the process of editing it.  As chapters reach the “presentable” stage I’ll post them on my website, http://gods-among-men.com.  

It would be overly optimistic to expect to finish an edited version of the second book by the end of next year.  I think it likely that I will finish a rough first draft and have final edits of many chapters by then.

And I keep toying with posting MP3 readings of the first book on my website.  I think it would be fun to do, but also quite time consuming.  I’ll likely keep bouncing this idea around in my head and never get around to actually doing it.  But I might well try a few chapters and see what happens.

And Your Blogs?

The blogs served an important function for a time.  They forced me to write regularly and focus my thoughts.  Maintaining them like I did helped push me to write often enough that I developed good work habits.  I expect I’ll focus my future writing efforts on my story, and blog infrequently at best.

That said, I sometimes look back over old posts and find what I wrote there interesting snapshots of where I was at that time.  There is value in putting random thoughts in permanent form, insight to be gained from reviewing previous ramblings.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to add post more regularly, but I doubt it.

Until next time, have fun and party down.