If I were Ms. Austen or a Bronte sister, this is the point at which I would say:
After two decades of procrastination, fifteen months of on and off again writing, one month of manic non-stop writing, sixty index cards, and several weeks of juggling scenes until I thought my brain was going to spontaneously combust, I currently hold in front of me….a solid first draft. There are edits to make and language to prettify. There are scenes to be fleshed out and others to scale back, but it is a solid draft. Printed, bound, page numbered and well, that’s pretty much all she wrote.
Dear Reader…now what?
Just simply Googling ‘what to do now you’ve written a novel?‘ is exhausting. Parsing through the squillion pages of advice of what to do and what not to do is excruciating.
Confession: I am still sort of, kind of waiting for a fairy publishing Godmother to wave her wand and grant me happily ever after in the form of a book deal. But at my advancing age, I’m not sure I have time to wait around on magic and wands. At my age Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo starts to sound pretty damn silly. I’m willing to put in the next round of work, but I don’t even know where to begin.
I’m not a strategy player. I routinely get trounced by my six-year-old playing checkers. Looking ahead to the next move, whittling down the information, I am clueless. You could tell me to meet Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with a wrench and I’d go. That’s how clueless I am at the moment.
I need your stories. I need your advice, your inspiration, your experiences. I need whatever candlesticks, pistols, ropes and lead pipes you can throw at me.
Reader, I didn’t marry him, but damn if I don’t feel like I’ve given birth. Like any new mom, I could use some help.
12 Comments Add yours
Like many of us following your blog (I’m sure) we celebrate with you! I feel you are like a friend I have over for a bottle (not a glass) of wine. I will love to put in a good word for you with that fairy godmother and tell her how you put words to experiences I have overseas that I until now couldn’t come up with. Your blog is even better than reading Pollock’s seminal work on Third Culture Kid. Your Erma Bombeck style is definitely spicier than “-Bowl of Cherries” and even funnier. Wow does that date me!
Advice? I’ve seen someone effectively create a Facebook page as the protagonist of the novel. Each entry hints at parts of the book without giving it away. The author gathered hundreds of followers so that when his book was released he already had many buyers.
I’m not in the book publishing arena but this strategy seemed sufficiently successful to pass it on.
Keep writing to us though. You make our expat existence visible, worthy and at times belly-rolling funny.
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Oh my. I may just copy your comment and send it out to prospective agents! Thank you for those stunning comments. I may cry. The novel is very different, but I hope that my style comes through even though it is longer format and generally a more serious subject matter. (Not that finding your way in a foreign supermarket is not a serious matter, but I’m sure you understand). I would love to do an expat book (The First Rule of Expat Club?) but I feel like I need to be careful. And this novel has been percolating for 20 years. I would love to see it out there, but I also am happy to see it done!! Thank you again!
First of all, congratulations! Wrangling a first draft is the hardest part of getting a book done. Do you have any beta readers you trust? People who will give you honest con-crit? I’d be happy to be one, but the next phase of writing is revising. One or two beta readers you trust to give you genuine feedback and ideas will help shape this story into a finished product. Whether you query agents/publishers or decide to approach a small press from there, you’ll want a polished volume, something that’s been read, revised and edited. I’d be happy to chat off-blog about that process if you like.
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Thank you, Andra for all this wisdom! I would love to pick your brains more for sure. So many questions!
There is a book published annually called The Writers Market, with plenty of contact information for agents, publishers, etc. They are also available online. Might be worth it to check your library to see if they have a copy.
Also, if you find books on your topic, you can see who published those, maybe check the author website and see who their agent is.
Looking forward to seeing your book in my local shop!
Thank you and thank you! I am looking forward to the next steps too, if only to be done with the first ones. As I’m overseas, not a chance in hell of finding anything in a physical bricks and mortar library, but will most definitely check it out online. And thank you again!
Wonderful. Great news! I can’t offer you anything except my promise to line up for the first copy. I’ll finally get to Scandanavia!
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Elyse, you’re welcome any time!
Wow! First of all, congrats. As someone with a few unfinished attempts on his PC, you have already done the hard part in finishing the first draft.
There must be something in the air, because you are the second expat blogger I follow to announce some book-related news in the past week.
Have a look at http://homesickandheatstruck.com/2015/02/02/moth-and-the-nightingale/ – she entered a local literary festival competition and came to the attention of an agent thanks to her runners-up spot.
Maybe there’s something similar where you are?
Otherwise, I’d second the advice about getting an honest appraisal from a few readers you trust.
Or what about a local book group – they’ll be honest and have plenty of material to compare it to?
Keep us posted; you have a readership ‘here’ that you would be missing a trick not to use in some way, too. Good luck!
Thank you! The funny thing is this: now it is sort of out of my hands (or will be soon enough), which is really difficult to wrap my head around. For 20 years I could say “Oh, I’m working on it” and now I don’t have that excuse anymore. But your suggestion about the book clubs is an awesome one, as I sort of view it as a ‘book club’ type of book. I am off to look into some possibilities! And thank you again!
Congrats! Aside from the many great suggestions have you considered self-publishing? I know that you’re probably looking to publish your book in the US through a publishing house, but saxo.com, the Danish online bookstore that you may be familiar with has a self-publishing site, although I can’t remember the name. Anyways, maybe worth looking into? Btw am an expat Dane living in Brazil and absolutely love your blog. Also interesting and fun to read about my home country through an expat’s eyes. Good luck with getting your book out there!
Charlotte, thank you! I’m glad you enjoy the blog and I hope I do your country proud (even in my complaints ;-). ) We love it here, even if the people like to get too close to my backside while shopping at Netto ;-). Thanks for the note about saxo. I will certainly check it out and thanks for the well wishes too!