For those who love lists, print this out and check off as you complete each item. Your book is sure to be a winner. Move over J.K. Rowling!
1. First you need something to write about. Pick a topic that interests you–you’ll be with it a long time.
2. Research your topic. This could be a long process (for a historical) or short for something set in modern day which only needs the best type of men’s undershorts researched. Or the way to thread a needle.
3. Plot, setting, characters, and overall theme come next. Who are your people, what are they doing, how are they changing, what is their message to those millions of readers soon to beat down your door?
4. A rough draft takes anywhere from a few weeks (if you’re locking yourself in a room till it’s done) to a year (if you work consistently a few hours a day.)
5. Make extra digital copies, give one to your sister to hold for you, maybe even print out one copy and then take a holiday. Go spellunking or rainbow-searching. Do anything but look at that draft for at least two or three weeks.
6. Depending on how masochistic you are, this next step is fun or torture: revision. Now is the time to hone those phrases, check details, re-tune your dialogue ear and just make the manuscript the best you can make it.
7. Rewrites come next and there may be one or a hundred and one, although for your sake, I hope it’s the former. (Sounds a lot like number 6, doesn’t it?)
8. Send your baby out to readers. Not your best friends, unless they understand the process, or your spouse, as that could be the basis of another plot that might not be pleasant. Find people who know about writing and will tell you the truth (but in a constructive way.)
9. Acting on all the advice, you finally write your final draft. Don’t let the word final fool you. I’ve written about six of these for my historical. The file names are something like msfinal, msfinalpostvictoria, msreallyfinal, msabsolutelyfinalorillkillmyself. You get the drift.
10. Publish. This is just one word on purpose. To make you think it’s as easy as digging into a fresh-off-the-barbecue steak after you’ve prepared it. In reality, this may be the hardest step but publish traditionally, self-publish, e-publish or do a combination of all three. Just get it out there for people to read, or what’s the book for?
Can you tell I’m a little tongue-in-cheek this morning? Do you have something to add to my list? Please consider leaving a comment below.