It is funny how small the romance writing world is. We work together here at RU to schedule guests and while I wasn’t the person to initially talk with Sarah, I slid her into my week. I didn’t realize that she was the same Sarah – the funny, witty, sweet one with the rockin’ cowboy hat – that I was chatting with on Twitter. Once, I put it all together, I knew this was going to be a fab post. I was sooo right . . . .
Revision Process from Unpublished to Published
When I was unpublished, the revision process was a fairly low-stress event. I wrote a book. I read the book, making changes. If I had made a lot of changes, I reread it again. Then I would email it to my mom (Hi, Mom!) and, after making any corrections she had (which were few and far between), I would print it off and take it to my beta reader. After I made her corrections (one day, I’ll understand the difference between ‘beside’ and ‘besides’), I’d consider it ‘done’ and start querying that bad boy.
That was it. So when I sold my first book, I thought, “Yes! I’ve got this process down now!”
How wrong I was.
I still go through the entire process above, but instead of that being ‘the end’ of the writing process, it’s actually just the beginning. It turns out that, for the most part, what I called the ‘revision’ process was actually what editors call ‘line edits.’ Revision, in professional terms, involves substantial rewrites, frequently of whole beginnings, middles, or endings (or, heaven helps us, all of the above). So for that first book I sold, A Man of His Word, I had to rewrite the ending 3.2 times. Three completely different endings, and then two revisions on the final versions.
It was much worse for my current release, A Man of Privilege. The good news was that I wrote the book in seven weeks. The bad news was that the rewrite—of the middle and the end—took eight weeks. Eight weeks of being convinced I was never going to see my name on a book cover ever again.
That level of revision—of working hard on something, having it tossed out in its entirety or near-entirety, writing something else that still works with your vision of the story and the characters, having that tossed or partially tossed again—that’s what I was unprepared for, because I’d never done it before.
Then, once you get a middle and/or an ending that is structurally time, only THEN do I get back to what I used to consider revision—the line edits that check for grammar, word repetition (guilty!), and that the horse is a Palomino on page 4 and page 187. And again, I was unprepared for the professional line edits I got.
I figured that, because the book had gone through me (I do edits at my day job), my beta readers and grammar checkers, my agent, and of course my mom (Hi, Mom!), I figured, what on earth could be left to edit in this book? The answer? A heck of a lot. Try 74 comments. In one revised book. On a book that had been good enough to sell.
It was demoralizing, to be sure. (Why yes, I was the teacher’s pet back in school. Why do you ask?) The straight-up fact is that I had made this book the very best book I possibly could—and it still wasn’t good enough for print.
But here’s where you, the author, prove that you’re a professional worth working with. If you find yourself facing this avalanche of rewrites and edits, how can you cope? You’ve heard this before—have a glass of wine, call your critique partner and cry/complain it out, and eat some chocolate. Give it three days, then get back at it. If need be, you grit your teeth and power through it, like a particularly challenging Zumba workout.
And you know what happens when you revise and rewrite and edit and polish until you can’t stand the sight of that book one more time?
What happens is that, a year or so later, that book gets published, people tell you how beautifully it’s written, and give you stunning reviews. A Man of Privilege—which took longer to rewrite than write, which had to have a new middle and a new ending, which came close to breaking me—was Romance Times’ Top Pick, with 4 ½ stars, for July.
The revision process I used when I was unpublished left me unprepared for the revision process a published author undergoes. But the important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to learn a new process!
I’m giving away a copy of A Man of Privilege to one lucky commentator. Plus—bonus—every week I’m giving away one of these handcrafted (by me!) book necklaces from everyone who commented throughout the week! Check the Authorial Moms blog every Sunday to see if you were the winner!
Readers, do you have a revision process or questions about how to transition?
On Wednesday the Story Orgy group is here to talk about Group Dynamics and Writing. Don’t miss it!
A Man of Privilege:
Blue-blood lawyer James Carlson is working on the case of his life. After winning this trial, his career will be set. He won’t let anything…or anyone… alter his course. Then he meets his witness.
Maggie Eagle Heart makes him question everything–his family, his goals, his future. Because she’s the one woman he wants, and she’s the one woman who is completely off limits. Yet even as he struggles to keep their relationship all about business, he can’t deny the attraction is mutual–and irresistible.
James has always done what is expected of him…until now.
A Man of Privilege is available! Visit your favorite bookseller, at Amazon, or for the Nook.
Bio: Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.
When not helping out at school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband and son.
This post is brought to you as part of the A Man of Privilege/Distinction Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule and rules, visit www.sarahmanderson.com. Comments on this blog will be entered to win a signed copy of A Man of Privilege.
Next tour stop is July 18: Amy Alessio’s Vintage Food Blog
- Weekly Lecture Schedule – July 16 to July 20, 2012
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- Breaking Heroines to Break Heroes with Sarah M. Anderson
- Mental Health Issues: A Candid Discussion with Sarah M. Anderson
- Ask an Editor: Theresa Stevens on Ten Steps to A Clean Submission