In my quest to help others produce high-quality books, I’m exploring the various options available to whip a manuscript into publication-ready condition. Conveniently, I already have a couple of completed novel drafts – stories with a beginning, middle and end – that I can put through the publishing process. Note: While I am planning to self-publish this particular manuscript, many of the steps (especially in these early stages) also apply to prepping a novel for agents in pursuit of a traditional publishing contract.
During the recent Book Expo America in New York, I met representatives from many of the large self-publishing companies. BookBaby, in particular, impressed me with their guide The End. Now What?! 6 Steps to Take Your Manuscript to Marketplace in 6 Weeks. These folks are quite candid about the fact that a successful book depends on the quality of the story and the writing, which typically requires the assistance of objective readers and a top-notch editor. (In fact, five of the six weeks in the guide cover the rewriting and editing process.) To this end, the company has partnered with FirstEditing.com.
I dusted off my first manuscript and went through the online quote process with FirstEditing.com. This draft is just over 50,000 words, and I described the project as a “Fiction Book – First-time Author,” which, I assume, would be priced higher than editing services for a veteran. The website provided an instant price quote, and I received my editing sample less than three hours later.
[click to continue…]
- Photo by Dawn Frary
Joseph Dobrian is a freelance writer/editor with more than 25 years of experience. He self-published his first novel, Willie Wilden, in 2011, and his second novel, Ambitions, will be released this fall.
You’ve completed two novels at this point. What is your writing process, and how do you know when you’re done?
For Willie Wilden, the process began with a brief conversation with another author, Joyce Maynard, at a party. Joyce was enjoying considerable fame in those pre-Facebook days, and there was a lot of action on her website’s message board. Joyce and I are always polite, but there’s always been a lot of tension between us. I told her, “Joyce, I’ve got a challenge for you. You say you’re a fast writer; let’s you and I have a race to see which of us can be first to complete a roman à clef using some of the people who post to your board.” She said, “I’ll leave you to do that; that’s not what I write.”
So, Willie started out as a book about a based-on-Joseph character, in conflict with a based-on-Joyce character. Joyce had a friend whom I despised, and he became Martin Wandervogel. As I was brainstorming, I got ideas for other characters. I took a girl I’d had a crush on in high school, and imagined what she might be like in middle age. That became Dora Fox. Because I set the novel in upstate New York, I thought of a couple I knew from up there, who became Frank and Lois Leahy.
Once I had those characters, I forgot about basing the story on Joyce’s message board. Eventually, my brainstorming led to the idea of a “campus novel” about a conservative professor who’s trying to preserve the college’s Indian mascot. That was much more compelling to me. So that’s the story I wrote. [click to continue…]