As an engineer in my past life, I did what engineers do—made a “symbolic” graph to convey what an author faces when writing a novel. Albeit crude in appearance, the graphic presents the “hill” of a novel’s journey.
There are five general categories involved: 1) story idea, 2) writing the manuscript, 3) publishing the book, 4) marketing the book, and 5) engaging readers. Each category is a topic unto itself and deserves a more detailed discussion than can be provided here.
Writers and readers obviously view a novel’s journey from two different perspectives. Per the graphic, writers look up the steep hill they must climb and readers peer down, anxiously awaiting for the next boulder to arrive. Writers want readers to read and readers want writers to write. When the two get together, there is a meeting of the minds. The writer exposes his/her soul to the world and the reader has an unfiltered view of it all. In a perfect world, a sense of satisfaction would ensue and both would be happy campers as the sheer joy of the moment engulfed them. Well, maybe not exactly that much euphoria, but at least there would be two people wearing smiles for different reasons.
When the idea “light bulb” for a story begins to glow, a writer wants to develop the thought in hopes of turning it into a brilliant manuscript and an engaging novel. That’s wonderful! Wish nothing but the very best for every author who takes the plunge, or better yet, the journey up the hill. However, before you begin pecking away on the keyboard, you should know a few things about what’s ahead of you. The journey from idea-to-novel is not as easy as you may think.
If you are a veteran author, you have been there before. You have the scars of a battle-tested writer and know what to expect. Carry on, but consider helping the soon-to-be author when they ask questions. Your experiences could help a fellow warrior-of-words with the boulder they are about to push up the hill.
A soon-to-be author would be wise to do lots of research in advance to help prepare for what is to come before turning that glowing idea into his/her first manuscript. A good way to do this is to join some author/reader groups and ask “seasoned” authors/readers questions about their experiences. Then listen carefully to what they tell you. Many veteran authors are more than willing to offer advice that could help you tremendously. Those who aren’t, well, to put it nicely, they have probably simply forgotten they were once a soon-to-be author seeking advice. Taking time to ask questions will definitely be well worth your effort, even if some of the “veteran-minds” snub you. Just have thick skin and a short memory when asking the questions. Those veterans who do help will allow you to survey the landscape/terrain along the path ahead of you. As the graph indicates, it’s not a smooth, flat road to travel. In fact, it becomes steeper and more difficult the closer you get to putting your book in the hands of readers.
The path gets steeper at each category, which makes your boulder harder to push as you continue the journey. Each milestone becomes increasingly more difficult, but not impossible because you should already know what to expect. You listened to the insights of some friendly veterans who armed you with valuable knowledge about the process. Take things one-step at a time, stay focused on your objective, and don’t let surprises overwhelm you—there will be many. You’re not the first person to experience the frustrations of the journey, nor will you be the last. Just think; you will soon be an author who can help other soon-to-be authors push their boulders up the hill. At that point, you can smile because you know the hurdles they will be experiencing.
Okay readers, now it’s your turn. You like to read. You like to read good stories in different genres. You spend several hours with a novel and you’re done. It’s finished. You either enjoyed the read or didn’t, but regardless, you’re ready to move on to the next novel. Before you do, think about the arduous journey experienced by the author to get the novel into your hands.
The author labored for hundreds-plus hours creating the content/format that you read in just a few hours. As you can see, the author’s journey from idea to placing the novel in your hands isn’t easy. As a reader, you hold an author’s fate in your hands—literally and figuratively. You want to read more, but the author must want to write more to enable you to do that. It’s a two-way relationship.
You, as a reader, can help authors by writing an “honest” customer review for each book you read. It’s not hard and doesn’t take long to accomplish. Let authors and other readers know your thoughts about the plot, characters, structure, and the story. If you didn’t like it, say why in a constructive manner. Authors can learn things from your reviews and become better writers. If you liked it, say that as well. It will encourage authors to write more, which gives readers more and better novels to read. That should bring smiles to all. Right?
Hope this information helps authors and readers understand the journey of a novel a bit better. Authors keep writing and improving your skills. Readers keep reading and giving those important reader reviews. Working together will help make all novels even better.
If you’re reading this sentence, I thank you for your valuable time. Enjoy the rest of your day. Go write or read another book.
Tom Tatum – Author
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Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum
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