How Long Should Writing A Book Take?

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As you all know, I have been working on my novel for over four years now. I started this blog in 2018 during the second draft. I intend to self-publish in the first half of 2020. Since the time to send my baby out into the world is drawing close, it has me thinking (among a million other things) about how long it took, and asking a question: how long should writing a novel take from beginning to end?

This is a question not easily answered. Writing a book is certainly fun but no cake walk. There’s the first draft where you become hopelessly enamored of your story and write on pure passion, the second draft where you see the myriad flaws in your romance, and usually a third or, you know, sixteenth draft in which you reconcile the first two states and make peace with them. Then, there’s the designing and marketing phase, which isn’t writing, but is every bit as serious and important as the actual writing.

How long is all this supposed to take? There’s no real answer to that. Everyone has their opinions, of course, and everyone works at a different pace. If you have to do any significant research for your book, as I have had to, that can also slow you down. So can procrastination, perfectionism, and all the other tiny incidents that make up the game of life.

As I aim for publication in early to mid 2020, that makes five years of work for this project. I personally feel that is too long and for my next novel, I will aim to complete all drafts and publish within three years or less. The story is percolating within me now, and I intend to start outlining soon, to avoid any sort of writer’s block. Taking several years on end also heightens the possibility of burnout, another notorious writer’s enemy we all should strive to avoid.

If you are a writer, nail down exactly how long you wish to spend with your book and try to stick to your deadline. Your audience will thank you. 🙂

 

Write On!

 

 

 

Of Snags and Small Successes

Getting my name out there and the return of the muse!

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Yes, it’s true! I took another unintended hiatus from the blog.  :p

First, I hit a snag with something in the second draft. I think — I pray — I have worked it out and am going to resume work.

Secondly…I have had some small publishing successes! When I am not writing historical fiction and blog posts, I write poetry. I have loved poetry from childhood. (I am fairly certain it all began with watching a Halloween episode of The Simpsons in which “The Raven” is read and acted out by Home and Bart. 🙂 ) I have written poetry on and off for years, and I suppose it’s finally evolved enough that two different places will be featuring my work in upcoming publications. Yes, I will still be self-publishing my novel, but it is sweetly validating to have my work selected and published by an editor.

This has encouraged me to start shopping around more of my poems and short stories that have been hanging out on my laptop for years which has taken up my time lately. It was actually a welcome respite from puzzling over story pieces that just didn’t seem to be fitting properly together.

I think I feel some more blog post ideas stirring, along with a lot of other inspiration. Stay tuned, my lovelies! ❤

Yes, Writers Deserve To Be Paid

A look at erroneous ideas surrounding writers and money.

 

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There is a longstanding idea in our society that writers should not always expect to be paid for their writing. Those who espouse this opinion often justify it with one or a composite of the following ideas:

“Exposure is just as good/better than being paid.”
“Writers should just be glad anybody reads their work at all.”
“Writers write for fun, and they should be okay with just having an audience/ you don’t get paid for having fun.”
“Charging money for your writing degrades the craft of writing.”
“Writing is unnecessary.”

Let’s take a look at each of these beliefs, shall we?

For emerging writers, exposure can be a blessing even if you do not get paid. I am blogging after all to build an audience. Simply seeing your name in print can be validating. Writers can also reach readers by giving out some freebies on occasion. But taking all these actions to the extreme deprives writers of the financial compensation of which they are worthy and, most importantly, of the means to support themselves.

As far as being glad anyone reads your work at all, sure writers are generally tickled pink to gain fans, however that does not negate the need to keep a roof over your head. Romantic notions of writers living in ramshackle apartments or holed up above cafes in glamorous cities not knowing where their next meal will come from are unrealistic and only romantic in movies where you know the writer characters are going to make it big.

With regards to not getting paid to have fun…there are doctors, lawyers, engineers, fashion-designers, teachers, and truckdrivers who enjoy their jobs, but they all still get paid –exactly as they should! Just because a person enjoys something does not mean they should not receive money in return.

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The idea that charging money for a service somehow “defiles” it is to me unbelievably erroneous. This is a common problem among artists of all sorts as well as those who work in the complimentary/alternative medicine fields — massage therapists, Reiki masters, etc. Money has gotten a bit of a bad reputation in Western culture. We are taught to go out and make money but also told that  “money is the root of all evil”. (I would say human greed is the root of all evil is much more accurate.) Many spiritual paths that revolve around a doctrine of self-denial and the righteousness  of poverty also promote shame around living an abundant life. These are massively  disempowering ideas that seep into a lot of writers’ brains by default. Money at its most basic is another form of embodied energy, one that enables us to feed ourselves and our families and to help others in need as well. Life becomes stressful when you do not have enough money and stress hampers creativity. Paying someone for their time and services or charging money for services rendered is perfectly moral.

But I think the most egregious idea yet is the last one: that writing is unnecessary. Writing, and any other artistic pursuits, are not unnecessary. They give tired minds an opportunity to relax and heal, they inspire us to be our best selves, they instruct us  and add a spectacular rainbow of color to our world. Can you imagine a world in which there were no books, no paintings, no music? I can — and it would be a world I would not want to inhabit for long. The arts preserve the very history of humanity. If we think that is unnecessary for our growth as human beings, we have failed.

So do not feel guilty about wanting to be paid for your writing. It’s natural, it’s ethical, and it does not degrade the very act of writing. May you become a best seller! 🙂

What do you think? What was the lamest reason you ever heard for writers not being paid? Share with me in the comments!

 

Why I Have Decided To Self-Publish

With proper time and effort, self-published books can look and be as good as traditionally published books.

Book and daisiesBefore I proceed, I have not written this post to disparage those who work in the traditional publishing fields such as editors and literary agents. I am sure these people work hard at their jobs and are passionate about the written word. But I have chosen a different path.

After a great deal of thought, I decided to self-publish the novel I am currently at work on. This avenue had been suggested to me before by other people in my midst, but I fought the idea tooth and nail, justifying it with my erroneous belief that truly talented (or “real”) writers don’t need to self-publish. I thought no publisher would overlook something that is truly good and readers would sniff contemptuously at anything they discovered to be self-published. I have thankfully broken free of those beliefs. Why? Because they are false.

Many fine books have been rejected numerous times by the big houses only to become best sellers. It was only due to perseverance on the authors’ parts that we have those books to enjoy. They persisted but I wonder how many other skilled writers gave up after one too many discouraging e-mails, the gems they might have penned relegated to a desk drawer forever? I also happen to know other very talented wordsmiths who have received rejection notices even after rewriting and having their manuscripts professionally edited. Contrary to popular belief, books do not always get rejected because they are bad. Sometimes, the publisher has already published a similar work and cannot take on another, or it simply didn’t tickle someone’s fancy enough.
 
So far I have poured three and a half years into my novel. I would hate to see a project I have given my heart and soul to languishing in a slush pile forever. The writing world these days is highly competitive and the odds are pretty heavily stacked against new authors. They are just too risky to take a financial gamble on in a world where producing and marketing books is so expensive.
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Another variable that makes self-publishing an attractive option is not needing an agent. As great as I am sure agents are, they are difficult to acquire and, well, also have to be paid fairly for their work which dips into my author income.
 
My third and honestly, biggest reason for self-publishing is (almost) full creative control. I am free to chose the cover design, book length, publishing house name, and make the final call on what ultimately gets cut and what stays in the story. I can also set my price and earn higher royalties. These are all particulars I understand traditionally published authors have little control over.
 
Am I worried that readers may not buy my book if they know it is self-published? Not a great deal. Some readers do balk at self-published books over concerns that they are low quality. Admittedly, there are self-published books that are low quality, but that isn’t simply because they are self-published or the authors lack talent. From what I have seen as a reader, writers get so excited over sharing their book with the world that they forget to revise and take their time crafting a quality work. I share that excitement, I truly do; but years of working in sales has taught me that in order to make a good name for yourself and build a loyal customer base, you must offer a product that people love, that people are willing to spend their hard-earned money on, a product good enough that they will come back for more. These sorts of products take time and I intend to polish my work to the best of my ability.  
                                                                                    
Will people be able to tell my book is self-published? My guess is no (unless they read this blog. 🙂 ). With proper time and effort, self-published books can look and be as good as traditionally published books and I intend to put in the time and effort. I am sure self-publishing will be a big challenge, but I plan to give it my best. (I might be a Libra, but I have strong Virgo influences in my chart and Virgo is nothing if not exacting. 🙂 ) The internet has opened up a whole new field to writers and the publishing landscape is indeed changing. Follow my blog for updates on my progress!
 
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? I would love to hear them!

Finding “The One”: Crazy For Covers!

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It turns out the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” might be wrong–at least when it comes to the publishing world.

Having a lousy book cover is a little like wearing an ill-fitting or mismatched outfit on a first date. It will make you look unappealing and disinterested, even lazy or possibly suffering from low self-esteem. It certainly will not showcase your finer attributes. You probably only have one shot, so you had better make a good impression!

Book covers really do entice readers to buy and the wrong one could send them scurrying off to a prettier option. Poor quality book covers can even make potential readers doubt your skill and credibility as a writer. Ouch!

I have been putting a lot of effort into finding “The One” for my book. For the last week I have been voraciously searching multiple sites for a fitting cover. I have seen some great artwork, but nothing yet that I feel is really a match for my story.  I am searching old paintings of the time period now, and finding some material that is truly beautiful, which I hope can be used in some capacity.

Of course, I still have months to get this squared away–I am a little more than halfway through the second draft, which still needs to be sent off to an editor before it can be published. I am hoping to have it all done within the next year.

What do you love or hate about book covers? What would make you want to buy or put the book down?