Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

Novel Writing Fantasies – Part One

Posted by Dahlia on December 11, 2010

I saw the above video in the news feed on Facebook last week (thanks to the video’s creator, dwkazzie and his blog The Corner) and I was  immediately entertained by the monotone, yet hilarious exchange between an aspiring writer and his colleague that was attempting to bring him back to reality, albeit unsuccesfully. After I finished laughing at the video, I started to think about how in some ways, I was the naive aspiring writer. While I did not go and quit my job (I do have a family and real bills), max out my cards, and attempt to go to a major publisher with only one page written, there were some expectations I had about the writing and publishing process that once I got started with making Wild Oats a reality, I found were unrealistic. I thought I would share my fantasies, how they were dashed, and what I did to make the fantasy more realistic.

Fantasy One: “Do you think I can get it published in time for the Christmas Shopping Season?”

Unlike the video’s aspiring writer, I did not start writing a book on December 4th with the expectation of being done in time for Christmas, but I did have a goal to have Wild Oats published that turned out to be too aggressive at best and unrealistic at worst. I finished my manuscript in August. I wanted to publish in December. I figured it was enough time to go through a few rounds of revision, get my cover designed, and get it to print. However, I discovered that there are two dates when it comes to a book: Your print date and your publication date. Your publication date is about two-four months after your print date. Why is there such a lag time between when that novel comes off the press before it’s officially published? There are several reasons for this: if you want pre-publication reviews, most of them need anywhere from six to fourteen weeks to review your book. Also, you need to allow time for the distributor to sell the book. Furthermore, this is also the time where you put that marketing plan into action. (Yes, you need a marketing plan, you have a product to sell!) Think of it like a movie. There’s a reason there are commercials, posters, and previews out weeks before the movie opens. You have to know it’s coming. December turned out to be a decent date for printing, but it wasn‘t a good publication date. Therefore, I have set a more realistic publication date of April 2011.

Below are a few tips on what has been helpful so far in terms of timing:

  • The first draft is unlikely to be your finished product. Wild Oats was revised at least four times, and that was before I was comfortable enough with it to start looking for a copyeditor.
  • Give yourself time to make the story the best it can be. Thinking you can write a 150,000 word manuscript in a week is possible, but not probable. Especially, if your goal is for it to be a quality story that readers will love and recommend to all of their friends and family. I am working on a short story now, 12 Days, that I’m posting in sections on this blog. I have found in the few weeks that I came up with the idea that even writing a short story, takes time in order to be done well.
  • On the same token, give yourself time, but have a deadline, a goal to reach. Without a goal, you’ll never finish. 12 Days is a holiday story, so I will need to have it wrapped up by the end of the holiday season. I may have to give up a few hours of sleep to get it done, but I’m willing to do it because I love what I do.

Timing was one of many fantasies I had when it came to getting my novel published. I have a few more to share, but I need to allow enough time to write the next part. 😉

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2 Responses to “Novel Writing Fantasies – Part One”

  1. Yolanda said

    It’s great to keep our goals in perspective. Thanks for the humorous reminder!

    Very well written.

    Y.I. Washington

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