Q04: Surprises

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Published Authors. For the remaining questions, see here.)

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the process while going through it?

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Just how intense it is. There are so many processes and a lot of detail and fine tuning goes into every draft, the cover, the marketing. Everything.

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I’ve been amazed by how much the publishing world has developed through the internet, and how much more potential there is now for writers to learn and grow. However, much remains the same, although the role of literary agents has really become important. It used to be very common to be unagented, but now it seems to be more of a rarity.

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Every book is different. Every house is different. Every market is different. Don’t think just because you’ve done this before that you have ANY idea what is going on with your next book, next house, next project.

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When you’re unpublished, you spend so much focus and energy staring at a closed door. When you finally kick it open, it’s a triumph, then you realize there’s an irritated Yeti on the other side, and you’re expected to wrestle with him, while smiling at everyone and saying, “It’s no sweat! This is awesome!”

The truth is, there’s just as much pressure on the other side of the door, it just changes. The one added pressure is that you have fewer and fewer outlets to be frustrated and honest because you can’t ever come off as not being grateful for where you are, even when the process is breaking your heart. Writers who aren’t published don’t want their dream tarnished.

It ends up leading to an isolation effect where you feel you can only trust one or two close friends, and the higher you get, the worse that isolation becomes.  I think this is a terrible thing, because there are lost opportunities for mentorship. I’m not sure how to fix this issue though.

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It will never feel like you’re doing enough. You can always be writing more or doing more to promote your books. It’s the nature of publishing that as soon as you hit one goal, you set new ones. Therefore it is really, really important to stop and celebrate the milestones. I’m hugely in favor of making the lists Ally Carter suggests at the end of this post.

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The most surprising? Probably the amount of love I have for the revision process. Drafting is all well and good, but for me, the meat of the story always comes out in revisions, and nothing but NOTHING feels better than digging deeper into what’s already there, and uncovering character traits and plot points and hidden narrative arcs that I just never saw coming.

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The negative surprise — how slow the publication process is.  The positive surprise — how polite and considerate my editors are during the editorial process, and how much care they take to produce an outstanding product.  Oh — and how extraordinarily skilled copy editors are at catching problems with consistency.  You know, where they point out that you said something on page 315 that seems to contradict something you said on page eight.  I though I had a knack for that kind of thing, but not compared to a real copy editor!
(Blogger’s note: Woot! #copyeditorpride)

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That is takes so long. Soooooo long.

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