Tag Archives: manuscript

Back on the Horse

I’ve finally wrapped up a tough work contract that absorbed all my time for the past ten weeks, with no more than a single day off in the past six. I knew going into the job that I would lose writing time, but I decided that the opportunity was worth the sacrifice given that the job was not expected to carry on for more than four or five weeks. Well, surprise—the work extended to more than double the expected duration.

Interesting thing about this particular film job: the period setting was identical to my novel-in-progress (England and the Colonies in the mid 18th century). The only difference was that the scripted colonial location took place in Virginia, whereas my novel unfolds in New York and Philadelphia. As an art director, I spent many hours neck-deep in research since part of my job is to match the look of the period. But while I took advantage of swimming in my own novel’s setting, I did not have the time to delve into my story.

How does one get back into a big story after such a long and intense break from the material? I always find the best way to get back into a project is to re-read the manuscript. The characters come to life and the story fills the mind again in a way that feels like getting into a freshly made bed. I’ve started tackling the 83,000 words I’ve put on the page to date. I’m enjoying the read, which is a good sign—and also see clearly where I need to do some re-structuring. Reading with fresh eyes is one unexpected advantage of having to take a break from a manuscript.

The timing of the end of my work contract lined up perfectly for taking part in NaNoWriMo again this year. I would have signed up if I were ready to start a new novel. However, I’m still working on an unfinished gap in the middle of the novel from last year. Instead, I’m doing “unofficial” NaNoWriMo. I’m writing every day, working to a word-count goal, and aiming to finish the middle of the book by the end of the month.

I’m finding it a challenge and suffering from immense blank page syndrome, but I’m glad to get back on the horse.

I’d be interested to hear how others deal with major interruptions in their work flow. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

 

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Step by Step

Since making the decision to self-publish, I have laid out a point-form plan of attack of all the materials I need to compile in order to properly publish my novel. The list takes up a full page in point form and includes such steps as “Format manuscript for e-publishing” and “write author’s bio.”

List in hand, I met up with an experienced self-published author named Eden Baylee whom a colleague had introduced me to. Eden has successfully self-published for several years now, and kindly sat with me over a pint to share her experiences. Her insights were both assuring and helpful. Frankly, it was great just to talk with another writer for an evening.

I’ve finished half the work list at this point—something I am proud of.

Formatting the manuscript for e-publishing was the first big step.

I thought the formatting process would be easy. It was—but more time-consuming than I thought. I found lots of resources online about how to format a manuscript for electronic publishing. A couple of the most useful sites I referenced were Easy as Pie (which included a helpful post about cleaning up the original word file), and The Book Designer (which has many great self-publishing guides, including this one about how to plan the overall book). Not all of the sites I found covered every detail so I found it necessary to scour several resources/sites at once.

To help with the other details outside of the core manuscript (dedication, copyright statement, title page—which I now understand compiles the “front matter” of a published book), I grabbed some well-loved books off my shelves as examples. I still need to add a table of contents specific to the e-book, and the book’s “back matter”—the author bio.

The scrutiny paid off and I now have a polished, properly formatted manuscript ready to upload, including all my front and back matter.

The next big steps are to design great cover art—not just good, but great—and to write a fun author’s bio for my romance pseudonym that I can post to a newly build Author’s Page on Facebook and on Amazon.

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Filed under Getting Published