I am so grateful that I am a process person and not a product person, because now that the first draft of my book is written, I don’t feel done. I’m excited about the next part. As far as I know right now, these are my immediate next plans:
2. Let the gigantic book sit a bit. I really enjoy Stephen King’s book On Writing (except the grammar bit because he makes me feel like a nincompoop). He recommends that you write the first draft “with the door shut”. There is just you and your story. No input from anyone. When you are done with your first draft, you let the book “rest…a minimum of six weeks.” Then you take the book out and read it, ideally in one sitting, and work on fixing the dumb basic mistakes and the enormous plot holes. That’s what you do in the front of your brain. In the back of your brain you are looking for theme, character development, and how to make the story coherent. You take notes on all of this as you read. When you have read all your glorious words, you go back and make the revisions you noted. Draft two will be done at that point, and you open the door, meaning it will be time to get those friends and family who asked to read my book to read my book. I’m hoping it will be my Halloween present to everyone.
3. Finalize who my readers will be. Reader one is my mom for sure. She was an English teacher and loves books as much as I do so she’s a double whammy reader. She’ll find my glaring grammar and verb tense errors, but also be able to tell me where the plot goes astray. I probably won’t let anyone else read it until I get it back from her with a stamp of approval. She reads fast, so even if it’s a brick, it won’t take much of her life away. Then it will probably go to 2 or 3 other people. My husband for sure, but I’m not certain who the others are. I’ll spend the next six weeks feeling people out. If they are still interested in my project when I’m ready for them, I’ll hand them a copy.
4. Start work on a new project. As much as I want to start pouring over this book, I really believe what King says, and I love how he says it: “It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darling that it is to kill your own.” The 6 weeks gives me distance and perspective from the work, but only if I find something else to occupy my time. So I’m going to polish up my short story, The Fisherman and see how I go about getting that out there. I’m going to dust off the first novel I started and see how I feel about working on that. I am not going to start working on the sequel to this book, but I might make some notes about where I think it’s going. I’m going to blog and enjoy the last few weeks of the summer with my family. Oh, and I’ve got a sweater on the needles that is going to be done by fall! (It was supposed to be done by last fall. Ugh.)
5. Find an agent. I want to at least try for conventional publishing of this book, and everyone I’ve talked to who has any connection to the publishing world says the only way to do this is through an agent. So, I’m going to get a Writer’s Digest. I’m going to surf the web. I’m going to read blogs. I’m going to get coworkers and friends to introduce me to their coworkers and friends who have published or who know someone who published. I’m going to work my network and my network’s network.
6. Figure out what genre this thing is. I think I need that to find an agent.
7. Develop my elevator pitch. When someone asks me what my book is about I sound like a bumbling idiot. I want to be able to tell someone in less than a minute a tidbit that will excite them about my story. Also helpful in the agent hunt.
8. Put together a CV and letter of introduction to agents. For fiction, I have a pretty pathetic track record, but I am published in my career field. I have a book chapter out there, journal articles, and scientific papers. I need to figure out how to tell a my story of techie-geek turned fiction-maven in a coherent way.
9. Fill out dumb bureaucratic paperwork, because I can’t go any farther in this without approval from my job. I can’t find an agent. I can’t publish. I can’t tie my real identity to afthead until I get work’s blessing. (This will surprise you, but I don’t want to publish my book as Afthead. I’m not Prince or Madonna.) For those of you working in real jobs it probably behooves you to find out if your company has any conflict of interest or copyright restrictions that might be a problem if you ever want to publish.
That’s it. My list for what I need to do over the next 6-8 weeks. I don’t think I’ll be bored. With regards to #5, if any of you glorious readers have any ideas on how to find an agent, let me know. If any of you have read awesome blogs or books about this phase, I’d love to hear your experiences. I’m going to try to have a regular weekend blog to discuss where I am in my first draft to second draft to publication process. (See, look at me working #4 already!)
With that, my string of book blogs is complete! Tomorrow it’s back to more normal stuff. I’ve got a yarn lady obituary to write, a work conflict to chat about, and a post on web statistics in my drafts. So much good stuff that I can dive into now that my orange covered “First Draft” is tucked away and aging. I love it so much.