Going from concept to a solid book draft

As an aspiring author who has finished several books but not published them, I’ve been struggling with the Great Debate over traditional publishing and self-publishing. But regardless of which route you take, I was dismayed to find that the author still has an enormous burden after they write a book.

This post is helping me work through my process and how I decide on publishing and marketing my book. As the first post, I’m covering what’s involved in getting a book from concept to published work.

Idea. Contrary to what you might think, great ideas are everywhere. This is the easy part, even though coming up with the next killer idea can feel daunting.

Research. Even if you write by the seat of your pants, you probably do some research. Whether you read tons of books in the genre because you love it, or pull together a comprehensive roadmap for how the plot progresses, this is important. The more work you do at this stage means that it will be easier to keep writing.

Writing. You and a pen. Or a keyboard. For hours. Oh, the hours. Every established writer says essentially the same thing – you have to just sit and write even if you don’t feel like it. A fantastic suggestion I saw was to figure out what time of day you are most productive and keep doing it then. For me that is early in the morning with a cup of tea. For you it might the wee hours of the night after all distractions are gone, or lunchtime.
Scientific advice for what time to write
Writing habits of famous writers

Revising. You did it! You made it to the end! From here you could just publish the book and move on. But then you realize if you want to turn your good book into an AMAZING book, you need to rewrite it. More than once. My trick is to start a new file while feeling free to liberally copy from the original. It should feel like a new book with hints of the old one.
Editing vs revising

Feedback. A book is a labour of love and you’re putting a piece of your heart out into the world to get shot down. This is really painful. Most of us think we’re open to honest feedback but the truth is it stings. I don’t have any suggestions for mending the hole in your heart, but I can recommend that you find readers who are interested in your genre. I’m writing a 1920’s cozy crime mystery, so I need readers who love Agatha Christie, Jacqueline Winspear or L.B. Hathaway. If I had a Sci Fi reader give me feedback, they’re going to hate a lot of the qualities that make my book great for my genre.

Once you’ve done all these things, you’ve got a solid draft! This is excellent news. You’re halfway to publishing! It is sadly true that all of this work only brings you to the halfway point.

Even if you’re going to self-publish, there are a ton of next steps to get your book in the hands of readers and to build up an audience who is interested in your next book. The second post in this series covers the publishing process…

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