Completing a manuscript and typing “The End” is always a great feeling. It’s an accomplishment, the culmination of endless invested hours. But “The End” isn’t really the end. Not even close.
Once you find a home for the book a host of new tasks descend upon you. We’re assuming for the purposes of this post that the book has a publisher, and is not being self-published. That option carries with related, but divergent necessities. Where to start?
Well, for one thing you’ve got a contract to review and, perhaps, negotiate the terms of. It seems a simple enough thing, but contract issues can eat up an inordinate amount of time. I haven’t experienced much difficulty in that department, but since contracts comprise a significant chunk of my day job, perhaps it comes more easily for me.
Then you’ve got editing lurking ahead. Just when you thought you were done with the manuscript. Sure, you’ve gone over and over this baby, revised, moved things around, spell-checked the hell out of it. And now someone is going to show you everything you missed, and it will be appalling. And that’s discounting more substantive changes the editor might suggest. Patience. At the end of the process you’ll have something you’re even more proud of.
But you’re not done yet. You need to bat around cover ideas, maybe choose from between a couple of different artists. Review sketches and give feedback, as if you have some special expertise in what sells books. Truth is, you’re probably busy picking nits. “That’s not what he was wearing in this scene, and the building back there should be made of brick.” Or some other irrelevancy that won’t move a single copy off the shelf.
Interfering with the cover art process is the easy part. Look out, it’s time for book descriptions. Think of all the enjoyment you’ll get attempting to compress your plot, theme, and main character down into chunks of 250, 150, and 50 words. Focus on the important parts and distill it all down. The important parts? Everything in your manuscript is important, or you wouldn’t have put it there in the first place. How does anyone expect you to abbreviate such a complexly interwoven narrative? Well, your publisher does. Suck it up and get ready to spend more time writing 50 words than it took you to write 500.
Even more fun awaits. You’ll need to help out with marketing, answering interview questions, maybe writing guest blog posts, working your social media while trying to appear as if you are not working your social media. Then there’s begging people you may barely know for cover blurbs. (Which reminds me…Oh, never mind. Now isn’t the time.)
Why am I writing about this? Well, misery loves company and I want you to share my pain. It is too early for me to share details, but I’m already in the early stages of this drudgery. And I’ll get to extend it over three books. What joy. What rapture. Still, if the end product is something you get a kick out of reading, then it is all worthwhile.In the meantime, if you want to read something I’ve already gone through all these stages of grief for, how about Reunion, my sci-fi/fantasy/post-apocalyptic/action-adventure novel? Or Under Strange Suns, my science-fiction homage to ERB’s Barsoom?