As a horse rider, trainer, coach and competitor, I know horse people are crazy – which is what makes it all so much fun! But, the drum is, so are writers. A different sort of crazy but crazy nevertheless. Many horse people suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Equestrian Disorder, they love details. They want details. They are details focused. Now some writers like me, just love the Disorder bit. But many also love a shortcut, they could go with Olympic tips to shortcutting, something that will cut time and effort from their work. They suffer from Massive Shortcut Disorder. We all go through it, some stay stuck in it for years, others move through with the determination of an endurance rider looking for the finish flags, but once out the other side they all realise there are no shortcuts. It’s like climbing on an unbroken colt, it works better every time if he’s been carefully and thoughtfully broken in before hand. But there are still some who will climb on an unbroken colt regardless and I’m thinking rodeo riders here; they are another sort of cray cray altogether!
Write the novel! The crazy part is that it’s not the hardest bit. Not by a long shot. Unless you have nothing to say. Then it is colt wrangling hard! We can all pretty much write, but the most compelling stories show us something new of the world around us. Tip One. Find something you feel passionate about and then write your novel.
Then there’s Tip Two. Learn your craft. Seriously. It takes time and major effort but do it. Learn how to buckjump before you enter your first rodeo. Since joining LinkedIn, I have been asked by a few writers to review their work and I was fine with that even though it was unsolicited. But within one paragraph, sometimes – one sentence – I transform into a publishing house editor on a three figure salary and begin chucking my pencils into the air and stamping my feet. Although keen to help inexperienced writers, it’s beyond my fix if they don’t know the basics. One incredibly keen person had written 200k words and apparently had a few big publishing houses reviewing all of it and asked me to do so too – goodness knows why. I willingly accepted which in retrospect was very crazy, up there with horse crazy and writer crazy! The writer changed person and tense multiple times in the first sentence which was totally confusing, I couldn’t even tell if Bill was “he” or “I” or if it was yesterday or today which had me searching my definition of seriously crazy and a glass of wine. Incidentally, when I pointed this out I didn’t even get a response so I’m still wondering if it was some form of fancy writing that I didn’t get. Very possibly!
Make your novel ready for publication. How hard can that be? It’s written, right? Just put it out there and the universe will sort it. I wish! This is the hardest part. It often slinks in there unnoticed but it is the hardest part I think. It’s intricately linked to Learn Your Craft. It can be achieved in various ways, but going back to school or at the very least belonging to a semi/professional writing group is way up there for the group’s feedback if nothing else. Tip Three, have your work structurally and line edited by someone who knows what they’re doing. That can be expensive. Then take their editing suggestions on board. Which is doable, but you may need to recalibrate your ego first. Unfortunately lack of editing is a well loved short cut.
Prepare you novel for publication. Either send it out to traditional publishing houses and wait while they assess it or become an indy writer and publisher and do it yourself. No shortcuts here either. You need to research your market, your publishing plan and who you will publish it with. If it’s with a platform like Smashwords you need to read all their info on the process and follow it to the letter, including formatting and providing a suitable front page image. Not easy for the shortcutter. Details matter here.
Market your book. This can also be pretty challenging because it involves a detail orientated approach, further, it may be a whole new world for the writer and another learn your craft – learn marketing 101 – issue. Even more difficult for those of us who don’t like to put ourselves out there. Like all good writers, I’m automatically looking for the shortcut here, but I know that buckjumper is going to bronc me right off his back if I don’t go through the lessons and put the background work in. I will let you know how I go!
Team Up by Elizabeth Alexander. Available on Smashwords.com