4 Tidbits for Non-Writers: A look behind the curtain

Writing a book is a lengthy process, one that most people know very little about. There are so many facets to it that, unless you’re actively writing and publishing, you probably won’t even guess at.

But I want to lift that veil, at least a bit.

We don’t print our own books.

Publishing companies (or self-publishing companies) handle the printing and distributing for us.

The exception being that most authors keep copies of their books on hand for events or to sell signed copies on their websites. Those are still printed by the publishing company but have to be distributed by the author.

Writing the book is only a small part of the process.

There are so many steps after the first draft is written that it’s insane.

The first draft is followed by numerous rounds of editing, some more intensive than others, wherein we viciously rip out pieces of our precious work or come to terms with the fact that it maybe isn’t as polished and perfect as we thought while writing (or both, vacillating between the two emotions throughout the editing process).

Then, there’s the beta reader process and the fear of feedback, followed by even more revisions.

Then, the decision of traditional publishing vs indie publishing, each of which have their own unique challenges.

Traditional has months or years of querying agents or publishers, filled with rejections because most publishers only accept 1 or 2% of submissions. And of course, landing a deal means lawyers and contracts, followed by the revisions the publisher wants and a butt load of marketing.

Self-publishing means lining up professional edits and a cover artist and a formatter (though some authors do some parts of these things themselves), then all the research that goes into preparing the book’s metadata (keywords, categories, price, etc.). And of course, uploading to the self-publishing company.

And marketing.

Always marketing.

And all of that is why, for many, the writing is the easy part.

Each step in the path has its own unique obstacles. For me, writing is the fun part, the least stressful of any step, followed closely by editing (because that’s basically interactive reading).

But the tedium of formatting and the soul-destroying efforts of marketing are by far the worst.

We second guess ourselves at almost every step

Writers often fall prey to imposter syndrome. Creative fields lack the objective measurements that could tell us, with 100% certainty, that we’re doing things correctly.

Any rule can be broken. And I do mean any rule.

I once read a story that progressively abandoned more and more grammar rules as it went along, eventually forsaking even basic spelling and leaving out all punctuation.

But it ended up being the thing that made it a good story, good enough for me to remember it years later.

And if even the most basic rules can be completely and totally abandoned while still writing a good story (while other stories follow rules and turn out magnificently), that leaves a lot of room for doubt and self-loathing, two things we indulge in frequently.


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