The last couple of weeks have not been my best, in life in general.
I’ve been staying up too late, sleeping in too much, not grinding enough towards my publishing goals, and generally wallowing in a thin but ever-present veil of anxiety and stress. It’s been coming from all sides.
Too real? Sorry. Allow me to explain.
The transition from dutifully revising WoEM according to my editor’s suggestions to just-as-dutifully reading through my manuscript to tighten up wording and themes has been difficult.
When I first sat down to just read through my manuscript — without any explicit pretense of finding mistakes — I got stuck.
What am I doing? How do I know when my story is Ready? Should I be sending this back to my editor? Do I need more readers?
You see, it was easy to devote myself to revising and rewriting my story several times over when I felt like I had someone to answer to, whether it was alpha readers or an editor. The changes I was making were for them.
Now, any changes I make are for… my potential future readers? That’s intangible, and hard for me to grasp, let alone strive for.
So who am I really doing this for now, in the current moment?
It has to be for myself, and I’ve honestly had a hard time convincing myself to sit down and work since finishing my revisions.
Let’s put a pause on the self-deprecation for a moment: I got pretty good at treating writing like a second job. I would write when I got home from work until dinner, and then I would usually write for a time after dinner as well. I dedicated large portions of my weekends and holidays to writing. I counted writing among my daily/almost-daily chores… not hobbies. I made myself write some before taking a break on Netflix or video games. It was a nice work-reward system.
Treating publishing like a second job has not happened for me yet, and it’s a learning process.
This is partly because this is a very uncertain place to be in, for me. I’m no longer writing so much as just making what I have written as air-tight as possible. I don’t have a process for that, so I’ve been hesitant to even take that first step.
As I read through the opening chapter of my novel, each of the following issues scrolls through my mind:
- I need to ensure my Glossary of terms/names is complete
- I need to ensure all of these notes I made during revisions are addressed
- Consistent use of italics
- Consistent use of capitalization in titles
- What if I missed something my editor noted?
- What if this isn’t ready by the time I need to send it off to a book designer?
As you can probably see, these myriad concerns are distracting me from nailing down an explicit goal for this first read-through. What am I trying to achieve here?
Goals for the Pre-Publishing Process
- Ensure that all terms and commonly used names are included in the Glossary.
- Fix inconsistencies, like “forest tender” rather than “forest groomer”, “treeline” vs. “tree line”, and italicizing the first use of a foreign word.
- Correct spacing of em-dashes… also figure out the proper use of em- vs. en-dashes.
- Review final notes from my editor for narrative/character questions.
My Glossary will be difficult. I could easily miss something. I also need to decide when a name or word just isn’t used enough to merit a definition… once? thrice? ten times? I might need to do this as I read, as well as fix italics vs. non-italics.
While I’m reading, I might as well go through the notes my editor gave me to review specific sections/scenes.
That’s a lot to cover in a single read-through,
The use of terms/vocabulary and punctuation is pretty easy. I can Ctrl+F each word or symbol and make sure I’m using it the intended way. I’ll start there before reading to get it off my mind.
Reading an inspiring post by Kristen Lamb last week confirmed where my thoughts were leading:
I need to stop thinking like an aspiring author, and start thinking like a pre-published author.
The publishing process is my new job, and today is my first day.