Thursday, January 30, 2014

So You Think You'll Write a Book?

So you think you'll write a book. Okay. It's a good aspiration. I have but one modest suggestion at the outset: Be sure that's what you really want to do, as writing that book can be bad for your health--physically and emotionally--if you're not ready or willing to do what it takes.

What does it take? From my viewpoint, it takes the perseverance of a marathon runner, the patience of a saint and the perspective of an octogenarian at least.

First, let's get an idea. You know, that new slant, brilliant twist, blockbuster worthy, light bulb busting aha?
Now comes the research. Let's see if your topic's been done before. No? Great! Let's get on with the real research. Get those stats correct. Be sure the geography is right. Don't make a mistake with history, for heaven's sake.

 : Closeup portrait of a latin businesswoman thinking while sitting at desk isolated on white background Stock PhotoGot all that in place? Fantastic! Now it's time to wait for your muse to visit. Did I mention, wait? Oh, yes. This is a being that delights in calling the shots, usually later rather than sooner. But finally, she's come calling to accompany you through the morass of story building.

You settle in for a lovely literary liaison with her. And things go so well! That first draft of your manuscript is finished. You are so proud. So happy. So fulfilled.

Then it's time to visit your critique group. Didn't I mention your critique group? Silly me. You must have one. No, no, no to writing in a vacuum. But not to worry. You have produced a masterpiece, and everyone there will sing your praises and cast literary lilies at your feet.

Yeah. Right. They tear it to shreds. Nothing left but your title, and half of them hated that. They say things like, "What point of view? You don't have a point of view." Or perhaps, "These characters are so shallow, I can see right through them." You know. Helpful comments.

Home you slog in a huff, manuscript still too hot to handle from all the vitriol spewed upon it.
Next morning, you take up your quill, open the hateful pages with your fellow authors' marks covering them--and learn! What do you know? Huh. Their ideas aren't half bad. And you summon your muse back and begin again.

Now emerges the fun part. What is it, you ask? Two words, with an article between: Agent or publisher. Research revisited. Yep. You must see who matches whom, as in: "Why did this agent reject my book? Yes, she's known for Romance Novels, but surely she cannot resist my concept book." Have another think about that...

But, hey, miracles still happen (think George Bailey), and a publisher wants your book. That's terrific. You're going to make millions and fast, too. Why, it'll only take--how long? Two years! I could be dead by then. What's that? It'll be published posthumously? Swell.

And so it goes. But, then again there's something wondrous, delicious, stupendous about writing that manuscript, polishing that manuscript, shining that manuscript that I would not miss for the world.


  1. Nancy, How perfect! I've made a copy to share with all those who think they'll write that blockbuster book one day... especially those who think writing picture books is so easy, and of course for those who have this wonderful idea for a best selling novel. :-)

  2. Thanks, Barbara and for sharing! And I get it about picture books--probably the hardest ones to do, ever...

    I appreciate your words!

  3. Too true, too true. Yet I keep at it. One of these days... Thanks for the laughs.

  4. Thanks, Rosi. I appreciate what you've said here. We all do keep on, don't we!!

  5. I think you covered the beginnings very well and with good humor. Don't forget about how much time and money will be spent in querying, filing rejections, revising, correcting, more queries, copy editing, etc. Or what happens after publication: time and money promoting, social media blitz, award nominations, conferences, ads, tours, purchasing books for events -- especially if you have a small publisher and much of this falls on you and your publicist, (if you can afford one.) I was unprepared for the amount of time and the expense. I love writing, but it's harder and more expensive than I knew (and I'm not even self-published -- a whole 'nother story!)

  6. Yes, there's a lot to the whole thing. I could go on forever, but that would require a book, not a blog post!

  7. It takes HARD WORK to write a book! That's what this post says to me and it is nothing but true. Also, I would say that I get a lot of writers in my classes who haven't read any kids' books lately and I always tell them to spend a morning or day if they can at the library in the section they want to write and look at books published in the last 5 years or so.

  8. It's so unbelievably true what you say here, Margo, about reading, reading, reading kids' books! I find them actually trickier to write than a novel. Great advice, and thanks for your comments!