Tuesday, February 7, 2012

i just wrote a book and now i am afraid. includes bonus "how-to" tips!

Holy shit, guys. I don't want to pat myself on the back here (just kidding, I do!) but I wrote an entire fucking novel. Like, a book. With story arcs and character development. And settings. And metaphors or whatever.

I created something that takes more than five minutes to read! The last time I did that was in second grade when I wrote a story called "The Adventures of Sugar and Cream." (Sugar and Cream were mice. The book was mouse-shaped. But I digress.)

I mean yeah, some of the sentences in my novel are currently like, "His eyes eyed me as he looked at me with his eyeing eyes that eyed," and okay, there was a tangent in there about juggling kittens...but it's cool. I have a team of editors (AKA my family) looking it over. The editing and revising is under control.

Now that I've completed the book though, people are asking me the inevitable question: "Are you going to publish it?"

I never know how to answer that. I mean yes, I'd sure love to have it published. I want to share my hard work with people and see my name on a binding in an actual bookstore. The only problem is that it doesn't matter how much I want it published. A publisher has to actually want to publish it too.

That's where I need your help, lovelies. What the heck do I do now? I have looked up exactly zero things about the publishing world solely because I am a huge coward. See, once I cut the bottom of my foot but I refused to look at it because I knew it would be gross and bloody. Then I got an infection...but that's another story.
The point is that I have no idea what comes next.

I need advice on how to go on this crazy publishing journey. I'll gladly accept random stories, words of wisdom, places to point me, whatever. Maybe you have a list of publishers you've considered, agents you've looked at that, perhaps your mom's friend's hairdresser's cousin once published a book, WHATEVER. I would really appreciate it if you commented or messaged me with anything useful.

I am but a poor thin-skinned girl with no real life experience, and I think I'm about to get my ass seriously kicked.

The only thing I truly know about this stuff is to expect disappointment.
And that is disappointing.


ON A LIGHTER NOTE: I just wrote a book and you can too. Really. You can.

1. To Outline or Not to Outline?

As many of you know, I began my novel as part of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. One of the biggest debates I saw was whether authors should outline their works or let them develop organically.

I am not an organic person, I guess, because I used a phase outline to plan my book out. (Find out more here.) It worked wonderfully. I never had to wonder what would happen next, because it was already planned out.

Some people hate being boxed in, but having an outline doesn't mean you can't deviate from it. Ultimately, it worked for me, and I considered it a worthwhile planning tool.

2. Find What Motivates You

Did you accidentally tell the hot girl in Calculus that you're a novelist? Are you trying to hit a NaNo deadline? Do you want to show up perfect cousin Sally? Your reasoning for finishing a book doesn't have to be altruistic, but there does need to be enough passion behind it to keep you plugging away.

3. Hold Yourself Accountable

Guess what? Most people won't care if you finish a book or not. You need to hold your own self accountable. It's all too easy to lapse into "Well, I'll just write tomorrow..." No. Write today, and do it for yourself. This relates to finding your motivation - how will you hold yourself accountable? Bribes? Publicly displaying your progress? Lashing yourself like that albino monk in The DaVinci Code? (Don't do that though. Srsly.)

4. Screw Everyone Else

This is your book. You don't have to let other people read it. If they do, you don't need to listen to their editing or advice.

Speaking of advice...

5. Disregard Well-Meaning Advice

A lot of the NaNo stuff I read said to write the fun stuff first. Jump around, they said. Be spontaneous! Forget your carefully planned outline!

I knew that if I wrote the fun stuff first, I wouldn't want to go back and write the boring connective bits. I instead chose to write in a linear fashion, and GUESS WHAT? No one gave a damn.

Do what works for you. Even if that includes ignoring this entire entry.

Now go write.