So right, I just finished a new novel. My fifth. By “finished,” of course, I mean “finished the first draft.” Writing a first draft is like wrapping up a super-cool Halloween party: everyone had a few laughs, a few drinks, and somebody took off the wrong part of their Spider-Man costume when they were dancing on the table. Everyone’s happy and ready to go home and sleep it off. But then you wake up and there are beer bottles and chicken bones everywhere and somebody appears to have unsuccessfully scrubbed their vomit from the bathroom with one of the hand towels. In other words: there is a lot of cleanup to be done.

I typically do moderate to heavy revision of my first drafts, taking them through a couple drafts: one to clean up sentences, fix things that don’t make sense, etc., then another pass to chop out everything I possibly can. It’s easier work, in its way, because I normally don’t have to come up with new plots and ideas and all that, but it’s hard labor nonetheless. If writing can be backbreaking, which it can’t (unless you write something nasty about Christian Bale), revision is that.

Second…I don’t really know what the fuck to do with my finished manuscript at this point. In the bygone days of 2007, it used to be you gathered up a hefty list of agents and their addresses, be they physical or electronic, draft up a query letter, redraft that query, redraft the redraft, then send it around in batches to everyone on your list. Then you went into the complicated mating dance of rejections, requests for partial manuscripts, and if you’re very lucky/good, requests to see the whole thing, and finally, if you’re really, really lucky, an offer of representation, which you take right after the conclusion of your merry jig.

That option’s still out there, more or less. But there’s also the self-publishing route. Due to the rise of the Kindle, the Nook, and ebook apps around the world, self-publishing hasn’t been shameful in nigh-on a year. Some people make hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it. Some do well enough to attract offers from agents who may have rejected them the year before. Some are doing so nicely for themselves they turn down these chances at success in traditional publishing in order to keep on collecting fat royalties for themselves. There’s no one way to do it anymore.

I’m leaning toward flogging this one around to agents again. I’ve self-pubbed some works and made a few bucks, but we’re talking enough to pay the water bill, not enough to change my life. I’d like an actual couch one of these days. I’d like an advance. But I suppose I have a month or three of revisions to decide.

Lastly–Christ, it’s nice to be finished. Despite being much more straightforward in many ways, this one was a little tougher than my last two books, involving a months-long layoff and a return in which I punted several chapters in favor of a new direction. I am very happy and relieved to be able to set it aside to cool down and move on to something else.

Which means…starting a new novel tomorrow. Yeah. I don’t normally do that, but I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this month. It only took me 14,000 words to finish off this book. That means I owe another 36,000 more words of book before the month is out.

Amazingly, I think it’s doable. Just don’t expect much else out of me until then.

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I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
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