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 Music and Updated Chapters

Kathryn completed a new piece of music called Guildhall; named after the building housing the central government of The Guild, the decaying empire which dominates the world in Gods Among Men.  As usual, all chapters, author readings, and music MP3s can be found at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  And here is a direct link to Kathryn’s new song: http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/Music/Guildhall.mp3.

Also, I have republished all of my chapters on the website.  I did this for a couple of reasons. 

First and foremost, the book’s final three chapters have undergone substantial changes in the last few months and I’ve been remiss in getting these changes posted.  These changes were prompted by the invaluable editing suggestions from the Magic City Writers Group.  Chapter thirteen is going to be edited by the group in the near future, so it will be updated again in about a month. 

Secondly, during the editing changes I made in the last three chapters I realized I needed to tweak specific sentences and paragraphs in various places throughout the book.  Minor edits that subtly enhance the overall work and is more consistent with the final third of the book.  Along the way I stumbled onto errors that had escaped my notice in previous edits; misspellings, the wrong word used (‘would’ when I should have used ‘wound’, that sort of thing), unclear sentences, etc.   Again, a series of minor edits that primarily cleaned up what was already there.

Third, I did another edit on chapter 7,…And Critical Moments Relived…, in preparation for submitting it to a writing contest.  I’ll go into more detail about that in a future post.  The main point is that the edits to chapter 7, while not major, were more than tweaks or cleaning up mistakes.  These changes smoothed certain rough spots and sharpened specific scenes.

Finally, I decided to change the font I have been using in the PDF’s of my chapters.  Up till now, the text of the story has been in Times New Roman.  I decided that using Garamond would give the text a more “book-like” feel.  This is part of an larger process in which I am moving closer towards the possibility of self-publishing my book.  Another subject I will go into more detail in a future post.

That’s all for now.  Take care and have fun.

New Music and Updated Chapters

Kathryn completed a new piece of music called Guildhall; named after the building housing the central government of The Guild, the decaying empire which dominates the world in Gods Among Men.  As usual, all chapters, author readings, and music MP3s can be found at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  And here is a direct link to Kathryn’s new song: http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/Music/Guildhall.mp3.

Also, I have republished all of my chapters on the website.  I did this for a couple of reasons. 

First and foremost, the book’s final three chapters have undergone substantial changes in the last few months and I’ve been remiss in getting these changes posted.  These changes were prompted by the invaluable editing suggestions from the Magic City Writers Group.  Chapter thirteen is going to be edited by the group in the near future, so it will be updated again in about a month. 

Secondly, during the editing changes I made in the last three chapters I realized I needed to tweak specific sentences and paragraphs in various places throughout the book.  Minor edits that subtly enhance the overall work and is more consistent with the final third of the book.  Along the way I stumbled onto errors that had escaped my notice in previous edits; misspellings, the wrong word used (‘would’ when I should have used ‘wound’, that sort of thing), unclear sentences, etc.   Again, a series of minor edits that primarily cleaned up what was already there.

Third, I did another edit on chapter 7,…And Critical Moments Relived…, in preparation for submitting it to a writing contest.  I’ll go into more detail about that in a future post.  The main point is that the edits to chapter 7, while not major, were more than tweaks or cleaning up mistakes.  These changes smoothed certain rough spots and sharpened specific scenes.

Finally, I decided to change the font I have been using in the PDF’s of my chapters.  Up till now, the text of the story has been in Times New Roman.  I decided that using Garamond would give the text a more “book-like” feel.  This is part of an larger process in which I am moving closer towards the possibility of self-publishing my book.  Another subject I will go into more detail in a future post.

That’s all for now.  Take care and have fun.

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.