Every book has a different journey from idea to shelf, but I’m sure there are some commonalities.
When Nichola Scurry, an author I worked with over a couple of years, asked me to speak at the launch of her debut novel, I wasn’t sure what to say. I knew a lot about her book but not much about her journey writing it, except that it had started off as a sort of memoir, and that she wanted to self publish. So I took that idea and made up the rest.
Here’s what I said (with the preface that it was an imagined journey). I wonder if some of it resonates with you.
A woman sits at her writing desk, looking through what she’s written over the last few months, heart hammering. She’s just had a little thrill of an idea. She wonders if what started as a sort of memoir to share with family, could actually become a novel.
She’s never written a novel before, but she’s read plenty. How hard can it be?
A woman sits with her writing group, heart hammering. She’s about to workshop for the first time. Maybe they’ll hate it. Maybe they’ll say it’s rubbish. It probably is rubbish. Yesterday she thought it was quite good, but today she’s almost definitely certain it’s rubbish.
They don’t hate it. They like bits, offer ideas, see potential that she hadn’t noticed. She gets a little thrill, maybe this is going to work out after all.
So… many more workshops, quite a few drafts and an unspecified number of years later, it’s done. It’s a novel.
Time for an editor. She sends it off, heart hammering. Maybe it’s rubbish. It probably is rubbish. Yesterday she thought it was quite good, but today she’s almost definitely certain it’s rubbish.
The editor doesn’t think it’s rubbish. But she does think it needs work. There’s more work? My god, will this ever end?
So… she works her way through the editor’s assessment, slashing and burning precious scenes that apparently ‘aren’t adding to the story’ (editors are such sadists), reworking story lines, rewriting chapters.
She workshops new material with the editor, writes some more, edits some more, writes edits writes edits writes edits. My god will this ever end?
Well apparently it does end. Because here we are. After a round of copyediting and reviewing the editor’s suggestions,
a round of proofreading,
getting an ISBN and CIP,
finding a printer,
setting up online distribution,
developing a social media author profile,
arranging a book launch,
publicising the book launch,
making sure that she doesn’t forget to invite anyone to the book launch,
getting weary self and boxes of books to the book launch…
well actually… it’s not the end at all.
It’s the beginning.
The beginning of Dot’s story being out there, on bedside tables, on trams and trains, at cafés, on the beach, in holiday suitcases.
It’s been a long journey, no doubt with its ups and downs, but she made it.
Dot’s out of your hands now Nic, and she’s about to make her way into people’s hearts. She’s a great character with a funny and poignant story, and I know people are going to enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed editing it.
It’s an exciting journey, with ups and downs and downs and ups, but ultimately ups. Keep writing, scheming and dreaming intrepid writer, and may your book find its rightful place on many people’s bookshelves and bedside tables.