Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 Reasons you should quit writing your novel

Hello readers,

today I am thrilled to welcome Stephen Clark to Fit & beautiful heart reads for a guest post celebrating the release of his debut novel Citizen Kill. It is available on Amazon.
There's plenty of tips out there for those who want to write  their first novel. But Stephen will share five reasons why you should think twice.

Ready to Pen That Next Great Debut Novel? Not So Fast

We’ve all heard the saying: Everyone has at least one good book in them. Some interpret that as a call to action. What am I waiting for?” they think. “Time to get started on that masterpiece.After completing my debut novel, slated for release on Independence Day, I have a different message for would-be novelists: Don’t get crazy. Building a snowman in the depths of hellwould be more practical. Or climbing Mt. Everest with one hand tied behind your back. If you’re about to embark on writing that great debut novel, here are five reasons why you should reconsider.

The big appeal of writing a novel is that anyone can do it. No degrees required. No tests to pass. No funding necessary. Just grab a pen and paper or get in front of a screen and start pounding awayThere’s even a National Novel Writing Month that challenges participants to crank out a 50,000-word draft from scratch in just 30 days every November. But writing a novel with commercial appeal or literary value is a different story entirely. 

When I decided to pen my novel in the summer of 2013, I thought it would be a breeze – at least for me. With nearly a decade of professional writing experience at the time, including a stint with the Los Angeles Times, I was confident I knew what I was doing

Boy, was I wrong. 

I “finished” my manuscript the following summer, but I quickly discovered that I was just getting started. I went through countless more revisions over the next three years to address just about every rookie mistake imaginable. Head hopping? Check. Too many narrators? Check. Misused flashbacks? Check. In the end, all the material that landed on the cutting room floor actually exceeded the length of my final draft. It takes an incredible amount of hubris to write a novel. But it takes even more humility to do it the right way.

I used to be the life of the party. Whether it was family barbecues, after-work drinks or sports gatherings with the boys, I always kept the jokes and stories comingBut a funny thing happened after I started writing my novel. I stopped going to the parties. Pretty soon, I no longer got invitations. Everyone knew I was too busy hanging out with my fictional buddies. It’s hard to say exactly how much time with my family and friends I sacrificed to write my novel. All I know for sure is at one point, I couldn’t pick my 7-year-old son out of a lineup – and my wife will never forgive me. Make sure you’re willing to lose time with family and friends because once it’s gone, you’ll never get it back.

Most novelists dream of getting a life-changing advance that validates their brilliance andcompensates them for all the blood, sweat and tears that shaped their manuscripts. I know I do. But if you’re lucky enough to even earn an advance, you can expect, on average, anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $10,000. Even if you get a six-figure advance, as some of my author friends have, they’ll tell you it barely adds up to minimum wage when you factor in all the time spent on your baby. Don’t expect to make enough money to quit your day job any time soon, if ever. This is a labor of love.

More than a million books are published in the U.S. each year, including 300,000 new titles from traditional publishers. That doesn’t include the millions of existing titles still available for sale. Meanwhile, overall book sales remain sluggish. Bottom line: There’way too many books out there and not enough readers. The only people waiting with bated breath for an unknown writer to release a debut novel are probably that writer’sparents and best friends. And I’m sure even they can wait.

It’s pretty hard, if not impossible, to gain attention when you’re competing in a super crowded marketplace for a limited number of eyeballs. That’s a big reason why writers so often face rejection on the road to publication, from agents to small presses to the Big 5 publishers. Even if your novel is a masterpiece, you’re going to need some luck in finding a substantial readership

When it comes to crafting a masterpiece, everyone knows writing is the fun part. Who doesn’t enjoy creating colorful characters, building new worlds and springing shocking plot twists on unsuspecting readers. But editing? (Big sigh) That’s the hard part and it’s what can drive some writers into madness. If you want your manuscript to shine bright, skillful editing is the only way. Writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. At some point, though, reading and rewriting the same line over and over again will test the limits of your sanity.

As much as I self-edited my manuscript over the years, I was fortunate enough to work with a publisher that values editing and accepts nothing less than the absolute best. But that meant I had to go through my 85,000-word novel with a fine-tooth comb over and over again until I was begging for a session of waterboarding over another round of edits.I’ll probably never read my novel again without a few involuntary twitches.

The road to publication isn’t for the faint of heart. If you read this and you’re still determined to pursue this path, then that means only one thing: you’re truly a writer and nothing’s going to stand in your wayWelcome to the club and good luck with that great debut novel.

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