1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    Whats Comes After D1?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by J.T. Woody, May 10, 2020.

    I have to admit, I have not thought about what to do next after finishing a first draft.
    I know I have A LOT of editing to do (a loooooot....), but what happens after that? How do I get from point A to point B (B having a physical book in my hand, lol!).

    I read @BayView 's "So, You Wrote A Novel..." thread and it was very helpful! I know I want to go traditional (I have a few publishers in mind), but how do you get to the point of agents and querying?
    How soon is too soon?
    Should you start after your 2nd or 3rd draft?
    What is the process?

    Maybe I'm just over thinking things (or underthinking things).... either way, I'm feeling pretty anxious :meh:
     
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  2. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Don't really recommend going trad, especially the way this pandemic is ravaging the industry. But if you really want to, the thing you do now is go over your story and make it the best you can (including the SPaG), so you don't give an agent or editor the excuse to reject it on first sight. Some people hire an independent editor to help them with that, but even if you do, get rid of the obvious errors first.

    Sounds like you're aware of that. The next step is querying, which the query letter forum has helpful things to say about.

    It'll also help to research publishing contracts, so you're not pushed into accepting one that's against your interests. Kris Rusch's series on Contracts and Dealbreakers is a good start, as well as her more recent series on Licensing.

    Those who have gone the trad route will chime in with more.
     
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  3. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Fun that you asked this today, because I just an hour ago finished my first first draft, and I'm a little freaked about the exact same stuff. I already know a ton of things I have to do in the second draft, but yes, all of those questions you asked, and also, when should I beta?
     
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  4. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    You don't beta until you have absolutely, positively produced the last draft of your story and it is the absolute best you can make it without help. Beta readers don't need to see anything but your absolute best. They are there to help you correct the last little issues. They are not developmental editors. They represent potential readers.
     
  5. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Yeah, I guess I understand that, but I never know when something's done. The last novel I attempted years ago, I was editing constantly as I went. This was a bad formula for me and a big part of the reason I never finished the book. I know from that experience as well as a few short stories that I can edit forever, sometimes, I think, past the point of perfection and around the bend to overdone. I'm one of those people. No matter how proud I am of something, it's never finished finished. I've heard professionals say they have the same problem, but at some point, you just have to turn it in. That's terrifying. I have a kids' book I keep thinking is ready to submit, but every time I read it, I tweak at least a line or two. The first time I thought I was through, I did about a five person beta. I revised it enough just from that round that I want to do another. There may not be a definitive answer to this, but how do I know when to stop?

    (You would be frightened for my mental well-being, if you knew how many times I reworked that paragraph.)
     
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  6. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    This is one if my biggest fears too. Eternal editing.

    How long should you wait before you begin working on draft 2? I heard that you should step back after D1 and let it sit for a while... But whats the time frame for that? Do you HAVE to do it?
     
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  7. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Not that I have any great insight, but after D1, CELEBRATE!!!!

    You FINISHED!!! Enjoy it for a bit, like a week and then return to it.

    Sometimes I feel the closer I am to my work, the more I want to change it. Taking a break helps me. I do return to stuff eventually, like after a week although I have one memoir that I haven't returned to for 25 plus years ....don't wait that long!

    Scott
     
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  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    i normally give it a month or two between the first draft and the self edit, and another month or two between the two self edit... after that it goes to the editor (I self publish) and then to the proof reader... time scales in that period vary depending how busy they are.

    i
     
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  9. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    I had to put my book aside for several months when I was about halfway through, and reading back through was almost like reading someone else's book. I could see flaws so clearly and repair them more easily, so yes, I think it helps. Several months is excessive though. Stephen King suggests at least six weeks, so that's what I'm going with, I think.
     
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  10. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    There is no such thing as perfect. You get to the point where it's good enough and you're just playing word games and then it goes out into the world. That's where deadlines, either imposed on you, or self-imposed, help. I've got books to write. I don't have time to sit there and endlessly agonize over every single word. I do a solid second pass and it goes to betas. That's it unless I realize that there are serious structural issues. It comes back from betas, I do a cleanup pass and send it off to my final readers, then it's out the door. I'm already on to other projects by that time. I've got no time to sit there and struggle. I've got books to write.
     
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  11. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    What if I'm looking for quality over quantity? I want a publishing contract for this book more than I want to start my next book. I mean, I started the next one today, because I need something to do while I let the last one cool for a month or two, but the first one takes priority over any future projects. I have more ideas than I'll probably ever be able to write, but I'm not going to churn them out just to be done with them. I have different goals than that.
     
  12. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    YES! THIS!
    (its like you and i are the same person :supershock:)
     
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  13. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    There's such a thing as incrementally closer to perfect each time.
     
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  14. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    You are aware that if you get a contract, they are going to expect books out of yon on a regular basis no matter what your goals are, right? Having a hard deadline where you have to have a book submitted, or else, that's going to get rid of that attitude real quick.
     
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  15. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    But going back to first book, though (cross all other bridges after the first). Im sure it was different, amd new, and anxiety inducing after you finished writing your first book and trying to get it published
     
  16. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    I was speaking of my goals for this book, my first book, the book that will, god willing, get me in the door so I can worry about contracts and deadlines. If it's not the best I can possibly make it, what's the point in trying? What if two editing passes, which is actually the goal, doesn't do it? What if it still needs work? What if I'm still learning? (Which I am.) I'm not going to call it good enough just because I set that goal. Look, I get that blunt is your thing, but "Get over it. This is the real world." is seldom helpful advice when someone is vulnerably expressing insecurities and seeking help to deal with specific anxieties. Maybe instead, you could share how you contend with the same concerns, if you ever have them. If you have no idea what we're dealing with, then maybe don't. Thanks anyway.
    Right. Like this.
     
  17. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    Which doesn't actually change anything. I see people saying it takes them a decade to write a book, but they're going to get a contract... and that's just not going to work. You'll have a date upon which you must deliver whether you think you're ready or not. Once you have deadlines, it stops being "I don't think it's ready" and starts being "I have to get this done!"
     
  18. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    Noted.
    so how do i get to the point of a contract...?
     
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  19. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I'm not advocating this method, just putting it up here for consideration. Apparently it worked for him and many others:

    Heinlein’s Rules:
    • You must write.
    • You must finish what you start.
    • You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
    • You must put it on the market.
    • You must keep it on the market until sold.

    He also said this: "You have to give an editor something to change, or he gets frustrated. After he pees in it himself, he likes the flavor much better, so he buys it." It sounds like his method was to let the editors do the editing, or at least tell him what they wanted done.

    Of course, he was mostly writing for magazines where the editor decided what gets published and what doesn't (or so I'm assuming). I have no idea if that's the case in today's publishing market.
     
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  20. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Here's a blog entry about Heinlein's Rules that says pretty much the ideas that crossed my mind on encountering them: https://www.authoralden.com/2012/08/heinleins-rules-for-writing-and-how-to.html

    I think maybe he could get away with sending in a first draft completely unrevised because he had an incredible natural talent for it. Most of us will need to work it a bit more. But at the very least, these rules can boost your confidence in letting it go before you think it's perfect. Let the editor piss in it a bit, don't take their job away.
     
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  21. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    From Heinlen's time 50 years ago? Probably not. Even from 10 years ago the world has gone upside, sideways, and back.

    Bottom line, the odds of landing a traditional publishing deal are virtually nil, so I wouldn't get to hung up on any one project. Just waiting for the agents to tell you to fuck off can take months, and that was when the world was normal.

    What I discovered in my trad publishing dalliances/rejections, is that it's the most highly evolved buying market in history... and getting worse every year. One of the reasons for this is that the it costs the publishers nothing--literally $0--to manufacture the products they sell in the initial phase of development. The writers do all the work and incur all the expenses (in most cases, time) while the publishers sit back and wait for the perfect product to come across their desks. Only then do they have to deploy their own resources and incur any sort of investment, whether it be time or money. And they can afford to wait.

    To the OP, I always had to get my head into something new before I could objectively review a first draft and see what it needed, let alone actually executing it. And that was 50 times harder than the first draft. And betas always came when I had gotten as far as I could on my own. It helps to know what you're looking for out of betas too. In theory, you should have a handful of large questions that you can't answer on your own--your blind spots, so to speak--that an objective reader will be more qualified to answer.
     
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  22. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    There's an author named Dean Wesley Smith who wrote a book called Heinlein's Rules, plus one called Writing Into The Dark, which together detail his use of the Heinlein method and also of writing a draft without outlining. He uses a publisher called WMG for some of his books (including both of these), not sure if they publish all of his work. Apparently he's very prolific. He claims he sold his first 2 books using essentially the Heinlein Rules, before he had learned about them, and then started to study what he calls "the writing myths" (story structure, outline, revise, revise, revise, etc). For a few years he couldn't sell anything, until he did learn about the Heinlein stuff and went back to that model, and he says at that point just about everything he wrote has been published.

    I don't know what to make of it, but assuming he's telling the truth, the method does seem to be working for him. Of course—read between the lines—he did spend a few years studying standard writing methods and then abandon them.
     
  23. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Dean also does "cycle-back" revising. Meaning he writes a chapter or two or several, then cycles back to make sure they're working, then goes on to the next few chapters, rinse and repeat.

    Then he has his wife Kris Rusch do an alpha read for him, and, unless she comes up with anything problematic, it's on to final proofreading and publication. (He and Kris own and operate WMG).

    I think this works for him because he writes and writes and writes some more, thus getting better and better with practice.

    It really is unhealthy to go perfectionistic over your first book. Yeah, correct it if you find a big honking plot hole after letting it sit a month or so. But it's rotten for you, the book, and your potential reading public if you cling to some Platonic ideal of your story and think you can't let it go until every last word is As It Must Be.

    @J.T. Woody, content your soul to let the first novel lie for awhile. Get excited about working on one of the others you've projected in the same universe. You'll come back to Book 1 with an easy heart and fresh eyes.

    And I just thought of this: As you work on Book 2 you may discover something about your world or your characters that calls for revision in Book 1. Or you'll want to add something so it's in place for Book 2.

    Another reason for giving the first story a rest before final edits and publication.
     
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  24. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I thought that might be the case. Either that or they might have been a struggling new company that latched onto him as their star writer and published all his work. Either way, it's quite different from getting all your work published on first draft (with only the revision you mentioned) by a normal publisher (one you don't own). Though he did get some early work published through normal channels (if I understand properly), so some publishers must still function that way. But that was in the 80's I believe.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  25. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    It also sounds like had some rough camping trips...
     
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