As you know, I’m writing an epic fantasy masterwork called The West Queen. Masterwork might be a little of a stretch so let’s just call it an epic fantasy novel series shall we? I’m on my final edit. I call it my final edit to stop me from entering another round of revisions. Where am I up to, how much further to go and what happens at the end of this “final” edit?
Where I’m up to
I’ve just finished chapter 15, which used to be my old chapter 12. I’ve introduced three extra chapters so far with this final round of editing. If you recall, or if you are just tuning in, the novel was originally focussed on Vanadian. That’s what I thought until I finished the first draft a found the meat of the story revolved around Princess Candia West (names may be altered during this edit). So I wrote three extra chapters from her viewpoint and have altered the existing chapters to make it all fit. I have thirty two chapters written, so I’m just about half way through. The unfortunate thing is that I think there are another two or three chapters that need to be written and the final chapter needs to be chopped and radically altered because most of its content will occur in the second book. So I’m half way through and I plan to finish this round of edits in four or five weeks (I’m doing 3-4 chapters / week).
But then what?
At the start I said this was my final round of edits even though I’m writing entirely new chapters and refocusing the story. Why do I call it my final round? Because if I don’t then I will just constantly go over the same work and never move forward. Something I learnt from running marathons is that the only way to finish is to keep taking steps until you reach the end. But you need to have an end to move toward. So at the end of this final round of editing I will be compiling the novel into a single PDF document and sending it out to some people to read over so I can make sure I haven’t completely stuffed something up. Assuming I didn’t munt the story completely I will then begin querying agents.
Agents? Not publishers or self publishing?
That’s right, agents. My reasoning goes like this: Agents have seen it all and have contacts with editors and “industry” people. If I can get an agent to represent my work I’ll probably get some kind of feedback to point me in the right direction and they will probably sell my work to a publisher. When they do sell it to a publisher I will probably get a better deal than if I went direct and I will have a buffer between myself and the pointy end of the business. I learnt in my career as a computer nerd that agents are useful creatures, self-serving to be sure, but then aren’t we all? The theory goes that I approach agents, if they don’t want me then I try directly approaching publishers, both large and small and if they all reject me then I raise some cash and buy an editor to work with me. I hope it doesn’t get to that point because that would likely mean I haven’t written marketable work and I have a long way to go.
My other work
I have two other novels up my sleeve, both of them half-finished and both lead into a series. I have applied what I’ve learned from The West Queen in writing these novels and as a result they are much closer to a finished result in their first draft than The West Queen was. I’ve dedicated my writing time to this final edit so I can send The West Queen out and happily finish these other novels. Every author I have read about has said the same thing: “Don’t stop writing while you wait.” The self published authors say you should edit and publish then keep writing without waiting to see if anyone buys your first book. One author, John Locke, who has spent a great deal of time in the top 50 e-books on Amazon was asked why he was writing a fifth book when his first four had barely sold a copy. His response was that when his readers found him, they’d have five books to buy and get excited about, not just four or three. As it turned out he was right. When his target market found him, they didn’t just buy the one book but rather, they bought all of his books and pushed his fifth into the top 10. So I’ll take the advice and send The West Queen out and continue writing my other novels. I needn’t worry about The West Queen. If no one takes it, I can just self publish it and push on. If I have any skill in writing, and I think I do, people will eventually buy it and read it. I don’t mind if only ten people buy it, I just want people to read it and enjoy it. Oh, and I want to sell movie rights to James Cameron who will produce a multi-billion dollar movie phenomenon based on it and I will have negotiated gross percentage of all sales and I’ll find the fountain of youth and discover faster than light travel and other miracles.
Back to work. One step at a time toward the end, that’s how marathons are run and that’s how books are written.