As an author, there comes a point when I rather abruptly realize that my book is almost done. It’s sort of a “wait a minute… is this thing really done” moment.
I’ve been working on A Good Community for over two years now, and I think it’s kind of like being pregnant. Okay, there’s no morning sickness – except for that sick feeling all authors get in the pit of their stomachs when they have an anxiety attack. We also might gain weight (stress-eating from anxiety) and we probably are all moody as all get out.
For those of you who do not write for publication, allow me to describe it to you.
First, you write the initial draft, also known as the “first draft.” As you finish it, you probably think that it’s great, amazing, even brilliant.
And then you read it.
And you realize that it sucks.
I’m serious. As you read your own work, you’re thinking, “who wrote this junk?” So you grab a pen or fire up your laptop and go to work.
Welcome to what we like to call “revision.”
You don’t revise your book once. No way.
And when you no longer can stand it and begin referring to your beloved creation as “this stupid thing,” it’s time to bring on the editors or, if you can’t afford editors, the beta readers.
After a while, the editors/beta readers return your work. You cringe a bit, and then make changes.
After that, you read your manuscript again and maybe do a bit more polishing.
But you’re not done yet. Not by along shot.
Now you have to create a cover, a spine, and a back cover. You can do this yourself by purchasing an image and doing your own layout. Or you can hire a designer to do it for you. I hired a designer I know, Erin Vieth Brochu, to help me this time.
Of course, it’s not all just a pretty picture and some nice layout and fonts. The back cover of your book requires on more thing, [Insert ominous chord on the organ here]
Gollum GIF by Nora Phoenix
Yes, the blurb. That short description of your book that you hope will entice readers to buy the dang thing. To write it, you have to be part author and part advertising exec. So you put your thinking cap on and try to summarize your 100,000+ word baby in a way that would make someone actually want to read it.
Did you do it? Terrific!
Is it any good?
No? Rewrite it until it is as good as you can get it.
Now, you’re done. Right?
Now you need to purchase an ISBN (an International Standard Book Number) so your book can be sold in stores and online.
You also might want to copyright your baby. Because there are bad people out there, so you might as well protect it.
Now you’re finally ready to upload it to a site for publication and printing. Choose your poison: Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Lulu, IngramSpark, and on and on.
Or you can try to entice a traditional publisher or a hybrid publisher to agree to publish your manuscript (in which case some of the above activities might be reduced… or not).
You also can try to get an agent. But I think the deal goes like this, or used to go like this: To get an agent, you need to be traditionally published. To be traditionally published, you need to have an agent. It’s kind of a Catch-22 situation, but it has been done, and if you really want to take that route, go for it.
Did I mention that this whole writing a book for publication thing also costs money for editors, book designers, ISBNs, copyright, and some charges for publishing, depending upon what you decide to do?
Ah, but in the end, you will have a beautiful, new baby book to show the world.
You’re not done yet. Still.
You need to market your baby and publicize it. Of course, you can hire someone to help you with this, which means more money; or you can get yourself all over social media and try hit local radio and TV and…
Yikes! Why am I suddenly depressed?
The truth is I would like my books to bring in enough to supplement my IRA and Social Security when I retire. However, it’s realistic to assume that I’ll never be a fabulously wealthy and famous author.
Here’s more truth: I write because it’s what I do. When I was a kid, I knew I liked to tell stories. Somewhere around the age of 8 or 9, I realized that I could put words on paper and tell stories of my own, rather than simply write stuff for school.
I genuinely love to write. And I love to read, although I wish I had more time for that.
Most authors I know feel this way, too. They write because they love it. In fact, in some ways, we need to write.
As my sister Diane once told me, “If you don’t write, Janet, you’ll go crazy.”
I think she’s write… I mean, right.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder