Saturday, February 13, 2016

What Happens After NaNo

I talk a lot about NaNo, but beyond complaining about editing, I haven't really talked about the afterwards. Often, there isn't an afterwards. Half-finished or un-edited novels languish on hard drives the world over and no one ever gives them a second glance.

That is what happened with my first two novels. I finished them, but I never edited them. Mostly, I thought they were crap and might as well be rewritten from scratch than edited.

But in 2014 I wrote a novel for NaNo that I didn't think was an utter waste of words. I spent all of last year editing it, and even had it test read. I'm still polishing up the last few things on my long list of 'issues', but at least those are the little things like continuity of hair colour and making sure the calendar is right (there are a lot of events that happen in a very few number of days - and there are still only 24 hours in a day in this world).

Editing was not fun. There were times it was, but overall it was as hard work as writing the novel had been, and that hadn't been easy. This was not one of those 'words flowed onto the page' novels. This was a lot of work to outline, plot, world build, and then write. And it was just as hard to edit afterwards. It was scary as anything to have test read, because I've offered up plenty of my writing for public consumption, but never let a single person near my novels. Asking people to 'please read this and give me your brutally honest opinion' is terrifying. There's no way to do it without thinking 'what if they say it's awful and I should just delete it?'

They didn't, thankfully. They were actually very supportive and very helpful, and found issues I hadn't noticed. One of them was especially excited, because it was exactly her sort of genre and she fell in love with the story. Which is always a nice pick-me-up. That didn't mean she didn't send me a long list of questions, though, but at least I know what I have now is something she'd pick up off a book shelf. So I have a reading audience of one. It's a start.

Now I'm struggling with the next big thing: building an audience and a brand. I have no desire to self-publish (unless I exhaust every other avenue), but I still want to position myself in a way that will appeal to agents. I don't have a website (well, not one that's public anymore - thankfully), but I do have this blog. And so it's going to become much more writing focused in the coming weeks. And I'm going to be much more honest about the nitty-gritty. This is just the introduction post.

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