Every author gets asked the same dozen or so questions over and over again. They’re usually things like:
1. Where do you get your ideas?
2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Me: When I was eight.
3. How did you begin writing
Me: Started with fanfiction.
4. What other authors do you like to read?
Me: Anne McCaffrey, JK Rowling, Dan Brown, Christopher Paolini, Jim Butcher, Rick Riordan
5. What book(s)/author(s) had the most influence on your writing?
Me: Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong started it all.
6. What is your writing process?
Me: The quick answer is: I outline.
7. Do you write on paper or computer?
8. Where do you get the ideas for your characters?
9. Are your characters based on anyone you know?
10. Do you write every day?
Me: I try to.
11. Do you have any writing rituals?
Me: I require tea.
12. What advice would you pass on to aspiring writers?
Me: Develop a thick skin now to better handle rejections and bad reviews later.
I don’t think my mom has ever asked me any of those. (Come to think of it, neither has my dad.)
She asks me complicated questions that require several minutes of explanation, provided I can answer them at all. I’ve even drawn out diagrams for her to help explain certain things. She definitely keeps me on my toes, and it has actually helped me learn a lot about the publishing industry.
So, I thought I’d share a couple of our more recent Q&A exchanges.
Her most common question:
Haven’t you finished writing your book yet?
Which is promptly followed by her 2nd most commonly asked question:
What’s taking you so long?/How long does it take to write a book?
Me: Contrary to popular belief, writing a book isn’t a fast and simple process. After you come up with a plot, research the topic(s) of your book, build a world, develop characters, societies, religions, and ect, outline, and write the book, you still have to go through editing and rewrites.
I think that answers part of another of mom’s questions:
Why does it take so long to get a book published?
Me: (see above), and more. To go from a manuscript to a book varies depending on what sort of publishing you’re doing. Self-publishing an ebook is rather simple at this point–just ad cover art and upload. Traditional publishers are a bit more complicated.
Let me see if I can explain the differences.
Traditional publishers like the “Big Five” (see image, above) most often require you to go through a literary agent before they’ll even look at your manuscript (and getting a literary agent can sometimes be as difficult as breathing water). In today’s market, about 80% of the books that these houses acquire are sold to them by agents.
For this argument, lets say you’ve already written and polished and edited your manuscript extensively, and you’ve written your query letter, queried your prospective agents, been rejected, revised your query letter, queried more prospective agents, and finally have a lit agent, and that agent has had you go through another round or two of editing and revisions (this time on a schedule), then queried prospective publishers, and has managed to sell your manuscript to one of them (a process that can take several months on its own; most of it waiting). What then?
Well, there’ll most likely be another round or twelve of edits and revisions (No, I’m not kidding about the number of revisions.) before anything goes into production. After that point, everything is pretty much out of your hands. The publisher will take over writing the back blurb, writing the author bio, getting the author photo, the cover design (which you most likely won’t have any say in because you probably don’t have the rights to the manuscript anymore), piecing the book together, printing, and finally distribution. It takes about eighteen months, sometimes more.
And then there’s the royalties, which I’ll get into in another post (spoiler alert: They SUCK!).
Which brings us to self-publishing.
Thanks to the internet, self-publishing is much easier than publishing traditionally (and there’s a LOT of companies to help you do it). It’s also way faster, you don’t need a literary agent, and you get to keep the rights to your book, which means you can keep the book as you intended it instead of catering it to an editor. Plus, you can do things on your own schedule, making it a lot easier to juggle around a busy lifestyle.
The major drawback is that it can be more expensive since you don’t have the benefit of a big-name house paying for things. That means that you are responsible for all of the editing, the cover design (unless you’re an artist or photographer capable of making your own), the marketing, the distribution, etc.
But you do get a much higher percentage on the royalties.
I’ll break that down for you in the next post. In the meantime, if you have any questions you’d like to see answered, please feel free to ask them.
With love and light,