How does an idea become a book? The nuts and bolts of the biz from a writer’s perspective.

writer thinkingHow exactly does that stellar idea make it out of your head and onto the bookshelf or Kindle? I encounter people all the time who have very romantic ideas about how this process works so I thought a few blog posts on the topic might be of interest. Keep in mind, I’m a wee little author, not The Nora or J.K., so my experience is probably quite different. I am speaking for myself, a midlister by my own admission.
There I am reading the newspaper and there it is…the idea that captures my imagination. Perhaps it’s a story about someone who paid three bucks for a yard sale frame and found a priceless painting behind the Elvis on velvet. Maybe it’s a story about a fossil find in Death Valley. The idea has lodged there, deep in my mind, and now I’m going to have to write about it.
The Inspiration: Off I go, to the keyboard and slam out three chapters. Proud of my work, I put it aside only to pull it out three weeks later and decide it’s in need of a major overhaul. Fast forward through several of these sessions including my closest writing confidants who will confirm that yes, it does need a major overhaul. Finally, the three chapters are polished, the query letter is done and the synopsis (the part I least enjoy) is written. Because I have a track record with my publisher, I am able to pitch a proposal, rather than having to have the entire manuscript done. I’ve done a considerable amount of research at this point, but nothing has been written past the third chapter. Why? Because of step number two.
Off to the Editor: After a strengthening dose of restoratives (say, chocolate maybe) I summon up the courage to hit the “send” button. The sending process used to involve a trip to the post office with a stack of papers, but we’ve gone all high tech electronic now. The proposal is winging its way to my editor in New York. She’s thrilled! She’s enchanted! She’s ready to sign me for a three book series and a fat bonus. Oopsy, slipped into fiction mode there. Actually, one of three things will occur.
1. She loves it, she sends my agent a contract and we agree to deadlines and such.
2. The only thing that remotely pleases her is the font. I am free to bury it in the basement and she will even supply the shovel.
3. She likes some of it and sends along a revision letter. If I would care to rework the proposal, she will consider it again.
I used to feel terribly discouraged by a revision letter. Rework the whole proposal? Sometimes more than once? Sheesh. As I’ve gotten along in the business, I’ve learned not to take things personally. A revision letter is an invitation. Accept it or don’t, but appreciate the opportunity. We’ll talk more about the next steps in a later post.
Here’s a link to a sample proposal featured on my agent’s website, if you’re interested.
So where are you in the journey? A reader? A published writer? A not yet published writer? Give us a sentence about yourself. I’d love to “cyber” meet you!

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