Poets have it easy.
They can wrestle with one page and then type those two magic words: THE END. For any writer who is trying to produce a book, it is a far greater undertaking.
I took about a year just researching and making notes. It took about a month to assemble those notes into a very rough chapter outline. I wrote early versions of the Preface and Introduction to use a compass to keep me from straying too far off course which was necessary, as any of my readers know, because I love to travel tangential lines to see where they lead.
Thoughts come faster than fingers can type. You must have a pen and paper near you at all times for that moment of clarity when it arrives. There were sticky notes everywhere.
I wrote all the basic Ms. Creant stories next, and then placed them in those rough chapters with related notes. To begin the writing of those chapters, I only needed to put the notes into sentence form; building on thoughts and ideas as I went. You never stare at a blank page this way, but it will add a huge amount of editing time at the end.
After three years I had five chapters completed, but stalled there as another Ms. Creant came into my life. A couple of years later, she was gone and I had another story to add. I got back to writing the book. In one massive push over a three month period in the fall of 2014, I completed the last three chapters of what I now call “the First Edition” and wrote the two magic words: The End.
I poured a single malt scotch and lit a Cuban cigar because that is what my influences would have done, and then sat back to bask in the afterglow of this tremendous accomplishment. The feeling is akin to having the best sex of your life, but the feeling stays with you for weeks instead of hours. You wear a silly grin all the time. You pat yourself on the back, A LOT!
I took three days off and just watched a favorite TV series; seven years of it; full time.
“The End” is just the beginning.
The word count was just over 51,000 words at that point in time. The editing began. With every pass through your work you will add to it, improve it, and make it longer. As a nonfiction book, Ms. Creant required a Reference and Index. By the time I had the First Edition e-book completed, the word count had reached 60,000 words. The Second Edition which I thought would be in print, had an extra chapter with an “alternate ending”. It sat at 65,000 words. The Third Edition added another chapter and I expanded on a number of ideas throughout, creating a new word count in the 80,000 range. I nervously sent the manuscript off to an editor, and what came back made me realize I had to take my writing more seriously. Another two chapters with at least twenty proofreads to this point and I sent it off to the publisher with a word count topping 100,000. There are still two rounds of revisions remaining in the coming weeks prior to the September release. Nonfiction writers should plan a week just to get a handle on the most basic Index. I took a nine page article and practiced on it before screwing with 100,000 words.
Fantasy vs. Reality:
As I wrote my first book, I thought it was good enough to get me an agent who would work hard to get me a publisher. This publishing company would produce a well distributed book that would attract the attention of a publicist who would get me on the Times Best Seller List. This would of course lead to a guest spot on The Daily Show which would garner to attention of a producer who would get me a television or film screen-writing deal. All this attention would have managers clamoring to my door who would arrange speaking engagements at major universities leading to a fellowship with an honorary degree, landing me a tenured professor position.
This was “the dream”.
Here is the reality:
When I had completed three chapters, I decided to fire out a Query Letter to the top agents in New York to shake the proverbial tree to see what fell out. In a word: nothing. Stock but polite rejection letters came back from most of the over twenty agencies I pitched. They did not even ask for so much as an Outline nor were they curious enough to ask for some chapters. In some future blog after the book is published, I will explain why. For now we will just say the publishing business is a tough business for first time authors.
YOU WILL WRITE THOUSANDS OF WORDS AFTER YOUR BOOK IS FINISHED!
Query 1: 395 words
Query 2: 416 words
Overview: 747 words
Marketing Platform: 1611 words
Competitive Title Analysis: 1290 words
Chapter Outline: 1004 words
Author Info: 499 words
Agents mailing list: 421 words
Publishers mailing list: 989 words
Facebook: 1000 words per week (easy).
WordPress: 25,000 words / year (estimated).
Twitter: 5500 words / year (estimated).
6 miscellaneous sites 6000 words / year (estimated).
Website: 4788 words (and counting).
TOTAL: Over 100,000 words since writing the book.
I am developing and identity crisis.
I set out to be an author but have become:
- a media copywriter,
- a blogger,
- a mail room clerk,
- a publisher,
- a social media student,
- and a full-time time manager of all of it.
I now resent all things which keep me from writing; especially when I am “on a roll”, including the seemingly endless maintenance of my middle-aged body. It is common for me to have two sinks full of dirty, but rinsed dishes (I am not a cave man.), as well as a herd of dust bunnies roaming the floors. I tend to neglect showering because it is hard to make notes in there. Shaving is the first thing to go, and the brushing of teeth drops to once a day on occasion. This does not go on for long as life and the biz will force you to make yourself presentable to go outside again. Perhaps it is for the best.