Finishing a book is a feeling unlike any other. The moment after your story is written – the tale written down and the last word, the last full stop, typed up – is a special one. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe if you haven’t been through it. There’s the excitement that you actually did it, maybe a sigh of relief that it all came to something; sometimes the deranged laugh of a true mad scientist when you realize your creature is going to live.
It’s a good feeling while it lasts.
Because the truth is – and all writers know this, really – first drafts are always a bit rubbish.
That perfect scene, the one that came to you in a moment of, frankly, literary genius – it can suddenly seem so different in the cold light of day. And what about the little things – the punctuation, the typos, the facts you were so sure were probably, almost certainly, definitely true. Maybe.
So, there’s a lot of work to do once the mere writing is finished.
Beyond edits and more writing, getting a book published takes time and a lot of know-how. The world of querying, literary agents, submissions – the whole trade of being a professional – needs facing. There’s a whole world out there, digital and physical, for writers to explore. Thousands of people are writing books. Millions. Billions, it sometimes feel like, when you can’t get your own work noticed.
Over the next month or so Writers & Artists have been good enough to give me this space to share some thoughts and advice about what to do once you've finished your book. Although nothing I write here can be considered definitive. Writing is an art, after all, and no rule is concrete, even in publishing. Still, if my thoughts and advice can be helpful, or spark some discussion, then the posts will have done their job. Topics, taken once a week, will be:
• What to do after the first draft’s done
• Getting plugged in to the writing community
• The three kinds of edits
• Query letters and what it all means
• Seeing yourself as (and being) a professional
None of this is meant to be scary, though. Yes, there’s a lot between finishing your first book and getting published… but it’s all good stuff; making you better; teaching you more; helping you improve your craft.
In a way, that should be the main message:
There’s a lot to do, and isn't that great?
Next week will be the first of the posts proper, and I hope you’ll check back and leave a comment or two. If writing’s a lonely profession, we’re only going to get better if we learn to share our expertise and opinions more.
Hope to see you all then.
Simon P Clark
Simon grew up in the UK before moving to rural Japan to teach English for three years after graduating. From there he moved to New Jersey, USA, where he works as a writer. His first children's book, EREN, is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency. He blogs about writing and publishing at http://www.simonpclark.com
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