Last week, we listed off The 8 Steps of Getting Ready to Publish Your Book. However, we did jump right into one aspect of Step #7 instead of sensibly starting out with Step #1.
This week, we’re rectifying that little problem. In fact, we’re going to go down the entire list over the next two months, from the pre-draft writing stages to the draft writing stages to the manuscript feedback stages and beyond.
To start out, let’s re-list the process. The 8 Steps of Getting Ready to Publish Your Book are as follows:
Figure out whether you need to put in research time before you get started.
Complete a first draft.
Revise your first draft.
Revise your second draft.
Revise your third draft.
Give it to a beta reader or two (or five if you can find them). a. Consider their critiques and add in appropriate revisions. b. Review that draft.
Give it to a professional editor. a. Consider his or her critique and add in appropriate revisions. b. Review that draft.
Start shopping it out to literary agents and publishing companies, or choose to self-publish.
So. Step #1. Figure out whether you need to put in research time before you get started.
This might seem like a pretty obvious point to cover with a clear answer to give. If you’re writing historical fiction and most kinds of non-fiction, authors and authors-in-the-making should do research.
That’s correct, but it doesn’t stop there. The truth is that if you’re writing about any subject matter you’re not professionally or personally very familiar with, you should be doing some basic background checking before you write.
Is your main character a flight attendant, and you’ve never been a flight attendant? Then learn what it’s really like to be a flight attendant before you start mapping out his or her life.
Is your main character a chef, and you’ve never been a chef before? Then learn what it’s really like to be a chef before you write about it.
Is your main character a politician and you’ve never been a politician before? While it’s a safe bet that your main character is outright evil, you still need to learn the daily ins and outs of being a politician before you can realistically portray the profession in your writing.
This is, of course, presuming that you want to be an informed and informative author someday.
Admittedly, you don’t have to know what you’re talking about in order to get rich as a writer. But it is a lot easier to gain a loyal following when you show authorial integrity by studying up on matters before you present them as fact, even in the context of fiction.
Not to mention how much you can learn along the way.
For me, doing research for my Founding America historical fiction series was an amazingly eye-opening experience that helped me see the British side of the Revolutionary War in a whole new light.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still all ra-ra America in the end. But there are so many nuances in any conflict – historical or otherwise. And those are important to understand if you want to grow as an intellectual in general, much less as a writer specifically.
So really consider this first part of The 8 Steps of Getting Ready to Publish Your Book. And consider them well before you get to your publishing goal. If you’re already a pro on the subject matter you’re writing about, then you’re good to get started.
If not, then count yourself one lucky writer. You could be in for an educational experience of a lifetime.
Which will set you up for a solid Step #2.