I am pleased to welcome Jack Wallen, once again, to my blog to discuss his process of conceptualizing an idea for a book and taking it to publication. His insightful blog post has a wealth of advice for the would-be author. Check it out.
From idea to publication (Or why the “self-published” title pisses me off)
I dream of a time when the title “self published” will be a moniker that will draw pride and envy. But, at the moment, that is not the case. Many people still see a self-published author as a lesser species of writer. Why? Because they haven’t spent years sending out queries and/or badgering agents and the like with the hopes of finally catching that big break.
Instead, the self published (or indie author – which is a much more apropos title now) is working hard working – in other words, writing. Think about it this way: In the span of time it takes to get a single book published through a standard publication, you could have, oh, four to six books published the indie way. But that’s not the meat and bones of this article. What I want to do is challenge those that say indie authors don’t deserve the title “author” or are putting up shotty, unpolished work. I want to do that, by illustrating the process I have gone through to get the second book in my “I Zombie” trilogy (My Zombie My) near release.
I will say the release date of My Zombie My isn’t until July 2011. You can get more information about the book on my website, Get Jack’d. So the process is not complete, but what you will see below, should ease your mind about the moniker indie author.
With that said, let’s follow the process from Idea to Publication.
Since My Zombie My is the second book in a trilogy, the “idea” phase was pretty easy. However, as with I Zombie I, this book was written totally without a net. Instead of my usual writing with a very fleshed-out outline, I decided apocalypse would best be chronicled without the aid of a safety net, so I dropped the outline and just let my imagination take me where it wanted to go. This has been incredibly freeing and allowed me to take the book to places I never would have thought of if using that more rigid outline.
So, since the idea was already pre-ordained, it was time to write.
I write all of my novels with pen and paper – first. This does two things: It enables me to write wherever I am. It also allows me to spend more time with the wife, as I tend to do all of my first drafts in bed, before going to sleep. I feel I can concentrate more and get more (and better) work done. The only downfall to writing with paper and pen first – cut and paste is a bit more challenging.
This is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the process. What happens, after the paper and ink first draft is done is that the words must be transferred to digital form. This means that the first rewrite comes as soon as the ink is dry on the paper. By doing the first rewrites this way, I am still very close to the story and the characters, so nothing is lost in translation. Every time I have done this phase of the work, both major and minor changes are made.
After the first rewrites are complete, the work is ready for beta readers.
I have a few beta readers I trust. They are always good with giving me advice and know that all they are looking for is a good, coherent story, that is not only interesting but free from plot holes and big issues. Once I get notes back from the beta readers, I look them over and begin the next phase of the process.
This can be either simple or challenging – depending upon the notes given by the beta readers. Not all notes find their way into the next draft, but most always the notes are good and serve one purpose – further improve the work.
Beta re-writes do not take nearly as long as the first rewrites and as soon as these rewrites are done, it is time for the book to move up the food chain to the editor.
The editor’s work
Ask my editor and she will happily tell you, she has her work cut out for with me. I know my biggest weakness is that of editing. My grammar always needs work, and she does a great job of finding and fixing my errors. After she takes her first pass over the work, she sends it back to me (with track changes on) so I can go over her changes. I would venture to say that 90% of the changes are accepted. The only time a change is not accepted is when it goes against a character or plot point.
When I complete my pass over the work, it is time to send back to the editor. At this point the editor will look over any additions I have made (I leave track changes on as well). When she has completed her pass, she then sends the manuscript to one more editor who reads the book for clarity, story, and any editing goof that might have slipped by.
Back to me
While the editors are doing their thing, I am busy working up a cover for the book. I have a lot of experience with graphics, so I am very much at home creating covers for my work. And since I know the work better than anyone else – who better to create the cover?
Once the work comes back to me, I make sure it is properly formatted and then upload it to the various services (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Create Space) and get it ready for public consumption.
Draw your own conclusions
Now – that’s a process that comes close to mimicking the process of a standard publisher. So, why does the “self publish” title bother me? Because that assume I do all the work myself. That is not the case. For any of my books, no less than five people have taken their turn at improving the work. How is that “self publishing”?
I am incredibly proud of the work I produce. My beta readers always have great feedback, my editor does a great job of making ridiculous improvements on the books, and I feel the work I am selling is just as good as if it were being sold by one of the big 6 publishers.
Nothing to be embarrassed by. Nothing to be ashamed of. I am an indie author, and I am proud of that title.
Check out my work here: