So you finished NaNoWriMo. Now what?

National Novel Writing Month is a cool idea, and I usually try to participate in some fashion every year. The first (and much different) draft of my first book was written in this time. I’ve never made 50,000 words, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but I usually do somewhere between 20-30,000, since I find it useful to set these personal targets.

You, however, could have made all sorts of words this month. Maybe you hit that 50,000 word mark, maybe you didn’t, maybe you went farther. It doesn’t really matter where you are in your writing process, the advice below will work for you.

  1. Finish the draft. This is not a foregone conclusion, even if you hit the 50k mark. For most genres, 50,000 words does not a book make. Some industry standards to keep in mind are 100,000 words for a fantasy or science fiction novel, and 75,000 words for a young adult novel. That’s a lot more words. Hopefully you still have more of your outline to write through, but maybe this is a matter of going back through and fleshing out your draft. Your writing process may be something you’re still figuring out, and that’s okay. Just keep in mind that your finished wordcount at the end of NaNoWriMo may not be what the industry is looking for.
  2. Revise. This is probably the most important step in any project. My favorite way to do this, honestly, is to trunk the book for a month or so. Put it somewhere dark and allow it to ferment. When you come back to it, come back with an editor’s eye, not a writer’s. Think about what works and what doesn’t, and start whittling it into shape.
  3. Proofread. Wait, I hear you saying, isn’t proofing part of the revision process? Yes, and no. I always treat my manuscripts to an extra proofing session or three. My revision process focuses on plot, setting, and overall structure of the book. My proofing process focuses at the sentence level. This is where you find your typos, your awkward sentences, your misused words. It’s a vital step, so don’t skip it.
  4. Research. If you’ve done all these things, and done them well, now you are ready to query (if you are going the traditional publishing route) or consider self-publishing. But you don’t want to just launch yourself at either option without considering the merits of both. Read a lot. Remember to read stories from people who have been successful as well as those who have failed. Decide what kind of work you are interested in taking on and assess your own skills critically during this process.
  5. Research some more. If you are going the traditional publishing route, there’s a second bit of research you need to do. You need to figure out who to query, and why they would want your book. I suggest making a spreadsheet to track your queries that’s particular to your manuscript, but you can manage your tracking however you want. Make a goal to submit a certain amount of queries per day or week or month. Structure things so that you can hold yourself accountable. Personalize your queries, but stay professional.
  6. Submit. This is the last step if you’re pursuing a traditional publishing process, and it’s the hardest part. Hitting that send button always feels, to me, as if I’m falling off a building. My heart is up in my throat, my stomach is trying to climb that way, and everything seems too sharp. This is normal. It’s okay to feel anxious about this process. Use the schedule you made and the list to keep the task feeling less personal. Treat yourself to chocolate or something every time you successfully submit. There are a number of tricks, but I suspect you will know what works best for you. 
  7. Forget. Once your queries are out there, forget about them. This is not to say you shouldn’t put an alarm in your calendar or something to remind you to follow up (depending on if that is something that the agent or editor you have queried allows). It means that you should not spend any conscious processing time on it. This is a self-protection skill, honestly, and one that’s hard-earned for me. Submit and forget. When you get good news in your inbox, you’ll be happier for it.

Congratulations on getting through NaNoWriMo, and good luck with your story!


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Daughter of Madness: logistics edition

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted directly here. For those keeping track, we’re a little over halfway through the blog tour. I’ll be officially back here with your weekly Friday post in July. July 27th to be exact. But since I had some thoughts to share, I thought I’d check in to do a quick rundown of the publishing process for Daughter of Madness.

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Continue reading “Daughter of Madness: logistics edition”

Queer representation through romance

Before Thanksgiving I mentioned the “queering beards” panel, which is not what it’s called but how I keep referring to it in my head. It’s got to be the internal rhymes.

Anyway, above is the link to the post last week. Suffice to say for new readers, I went to World Fantasy Convention and got to listen to a lot of cool thoughts about LGBTQIA+ representation from various industry professionals. So here I am, reporting back to you, my readers, who didn’t get to go listen to this awesome conversation.

One of the questions that came up in this panel was about how queer stories are marketed predominantly through romance. Typically, there is an idea that an adult story with a queer main character, of any orientation, needs to have a romantic or sexual subplot as a way to firmly establish their queerness. Audience members also expressed pressure they had felt in young adult and middle grade writing to include a coming out story, often dovetailing with a romantic or sexual plot element. The moderator, Sara Megibow, asked how this had impacted the current panelists and their thoughts on it. The panelists each had different lived experiences which they articulated. One panelist felt that he had been pigeonholed into these projects as a voice actor; another felt that marketing for her books was sometimes difficult because of her publisher’s reputation for romance, when she herself did not write romance. They agreed that this could be problematic for queer authors trying to tell stories that didn’t revolve around romantic or sexual subplots, though they didn’t use those words.

So I raised my hand and asked how they felt it impacted asexual and aromantic representation in books. The panel felt there was an impact, but it felt to me that they didn’t know how to speak to this issue since none of them identified as such. But when a Twitter mutual who is active in the ace and aro communities posted a thread, I was reminded of that conversation and chimed in.

 

We had a great discussion. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things about Twitter, the ability for me to constantly encounter people who have more experience than me and learn about their expertise.

One of the things the panel didn’t really explore in their answer to my question, and one of the things that I didn’t explicitly tease out, is that there is a difference between asexual and aromantic and that difference could result in differing challenges in the publishing industry. Claudie quickly corrected my thinking here, specifying that, while getting asexual stories published was still not easy, it was becoming more common than aromantic stories because romance-focused publishing houses were uninterested in aromanticism. After all, you don’t necessarily need sex to have a romance that can titillate readers.

I urge you to check out our conversation if you would like to. We kind of went in several branching directions, so you may need to flit about from tweet to tweet to find it all. You also might check out some of her work documenting and recommending asexual and aromantic stories. And you could always buy her a coffee.


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