I returned home from a three-day-long school “study” camp yesterday, my limbs aching from the hours of walking and the overpacked schedule. I have even less of an idea of where I want to go to university now, after all the tours and talks and blah blah blah.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this post, so onwards:
The publishing industry is a complicated, many-headed beast. As writers we first come in with bright eyes and grand expectations. Some of us remain that way while others learn as much as they can about publishing, be it self-publishing or “traditional” publishing, the first of which the author pays a company that is hopefully upfront about its purpose while in the second the author is paid and the publishing company handles printing, liaising with bookstores and whatnot.
There is a lot to learn, and it can be hard to explain these things to friends and even writers who have yet to get their feet wet. One thing I’ve found, especially with my non-writer friend who reads a lot, is the question of why my book isn’t finished and in stores. The answer: it’s not ready yet. I refuse to release my book into the wilderness before it is as strong as I can make it. I’m currently working on the fourth draft and already know there will be a fifth and possibly a sixth. I will stop when I am having immense trouble finding things to change.
As writers we need to be critical of our work as much as possible. If we can’t see our book critically, we may have to pay professional editors or get a critique partner to help. There are some writer’s forums, such as Absolute Write, that have critique areas for your use as well.
(Be careful with professional editors. Not all of them are any good. Take any comments from anyone with a grain of salt. Multiple opinions are often the way to go here, so if you get the same comment over and over again it may be worth looking over. Follow your gut with this.)
We also need to learn the craft and basic story structure. We need to learn what makes our characters tick, especially our protagonist and villain. Everything must make sense to the reader. It’s okay to have mystery, but there must be a logical plot and minimal stupidity on the characters’ part. I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
When will my story be finished? When it’s ready. No sooner.