Editing—so much editing.
I began my blog seven months ago while working on draft six of my novel.
Since then, I’ve made so many major revisions to this manuscript that it’s nearly unrecognizable from its earlier versions. If not for the names of the protagonists, draft one and draft twelve might seem like they’re set in entirely different worlds. Place names and supporting character names have changed drastically, the structure of the plot has been broken down and pieced back together in so many different ways, and the overall pacing of the novel has (supposedly) been improved to read faster from beginning to end with a surge of adrenaline near the climax.
The process of editing this novel is already many times longer than writing the initial draft and that’s how it should be (I’ll say it again, a novel simply cannot be “finished” until it’s been edited, repeatedly—first, for plot structure, pacing, and feasibility; a focus on grammar, spelling, and typos comes later).
With every round of editing, it was clear that my MS was getting stronger and stronger. However, the feeling that the novel would never be perfect just does not go away. So, my current plan is to go for something “as close to perfect as possible, given a reasonable span of time and amount of effort” (don’t ask me how many years is too long, and how much effort is too much).
I’ve sent many, many queries, mostly in the last days of September and the first half of October of 2014. I’ve sent a negligible number of queries since then, in favor of waiting, editing, and researching as described below.
The appeal of going indie
When I first started researching publishing, I disregarded indie publishing and looked only toward the traditional route. I read about self-publishing a bit, but focused primarily on advice about agent querying and the traditional publishing world. When I went to my first (and only, so far) writer’s conference at the end of September, I met fellow writers who asked me with genuine curiosity why I even bothered with the traditional route. Their experience and education with the publishing industry seemed to make it clear that going indie was the only logical choice—the traditional publishing model didn’t make sense anymore. Still, even after hearing such negative opinions of traditional publishing, I persisted in my projected course: I’d planned to start querying in earnest at the end of September and I didn’t deviate. Two things happened while I waited for agents to respond to my queries:
- First, I became really unsure about the quality of my MS and began to edit, making bigger changes than ever. It’s not a good idea to make huge changes to your book if some agents already have your “full manuscript.” They expect the “full” to be “complete” and will be pretty annoyed, and justifiably so, if you tell them you updated it—speaking from experience here. Don’t do it! Of course, I think my novel is many times better now than it was when I first sent out those queries, so there’s that.
- The second thing that happened was that I started seriously researching indie publishing. The speed at which I could get published by going indie and the likelihood of commercial success (as compared to waiting for the traditional process, and the arguably similar chances of success) started looking very appealing. Presumably, so long as I avoid certain pitfalls of self-publishing (improper editing, crappy cover design, and lazy marketing), the only big disadvantages of going indie would be visibility: hurdles to jump to get brick-and-mortar locations to stock the title, and to get Amazon and other online retailers to stick the book cover somewhere noticeable (Hugh Howey is a very convincing pseudo-advocate for self-publishing).
For now, I’ll finish draft thirteen and send it to another beta reader. Then, I’ll consider hiring a professional developmental editor to have a look, assuming my esteemed beta readers’ feedback and my ability to scrutinize my own work isn’t quite enough. Finally, I’ll either send out that last batch of queries or start sprinting down that indie route (in that case, I’ll probably go with Lightning Source).
Impatience, non-caffeinated beverages, and people who take cafes seats without purchasing drinks—the writer’s worse enemies.