Thank you to Victoria (Tori) Zigler for the below guest post. You can find Victoria’s blog here, (http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk/).
I’m sure you’ve read many posts from a variety of authors about their writing process, and probably their publishing process too. Well, now it’s my turn to tell you mine.
Ideas come to me in a variety of ways, from dreams and daydreams to overheard conversations, and everything in between. When they come to me, I make a note of them in a regularly backed up document on my computer. Then, when I’m ready to do so, I pick one to work with; usually whichever one is jumping about excitedly inside my head, eager to be allowed to escape in to the world. In fact, more often than not, this results in me working with a few ideas at once, but – for simplicity’s sake – I’m going to focus on dealing with discussing the writing and publishing process for just one idea during this post.
Once I know what idea I’m working with, the next step is to turn it from a plot bunny eagerly hopping about inside my head, to something resembling a full story. So, I open a blank document on my computer, and simply start writing. At this stage I don’t worry about typos, grammatical errors, or any of that other stuff; I just write, letting the story take me where it will.
Once I reach the end of the story, I begin rewrites and research.
Now, you might think that writing fiction, as I do, there won’t be any research. But there is. For one thing, being blind, I sometimes have to verify descriptions of real objects (either by looking them up, or checking with my husband). For another thing, there are often facts that appear in even fantasy worlds which need to be checked. Fantasy worlds will often break rules of real worlds, but you need to know which rules you’re breaking. Also, if – for example – you want to be sure your woodland sounds like a real woodland, you need to be sure that the plants and animals you’ve included to create this impression would actually be found in a woodland. Or, if you’re putting something in a woodland that wouldn’t be found there, then you need to know for sure that you’re doing this. There are also things like – to stick with the woodland theme – checking that things that don’t bloom until summer aren’t already blooming if your story is set in spring, etc. I’m sure you get the idea.
As I said, along with research, I also do a couple of rewrites. These are to change things that no longer work with the direction the story went – which isn’t always the direction I thought it would – add in those extra bits of details and descriptions my research has helped with, fix obvious typos and grammatical errors, and generally tidy up the manuscript a little.
It’s at this point that I usually make sure to arrange a cover with one of my cover artists; if I haven’t already done so (I only do so before this point if I had a clear idea from the start of how I wanted the cover to look).
Cover creation for me is a process that requires three people: the cover artist, my husband, and myself. I send the cover artist a detailed description of the cover I imagine, and the cover artist draws it. Then – depending on the cover artist I use – the rough cover is either sent to me for me to show my husband, or sent directly to my husband. At this point my husband has no clue what I’ve asked for exactly. I leave it this way intentionally, because his task is to describe what he sees, so I can decide if it matches what I imagined. If it does – and, it usually does; I have a couple of amazing cover artists – I give the go-ahead for it to be used, but if not – which doesn’t happen often – I’ll send a message to the cover artist to explain what doesn’t work for me. Like I said though, most of the time the cover artists I use either manage to capture exactly what I had in mind, or do something better than I imagined, so I go with their idea anyway. When the cover is done, and all three of us are happy with it, I save it as a clearly labelled file on my computer, and also make sure to save a backup copy; just in case.
Next comes hours and hours of editing.
I put my poor story through several editing phases, doing everything in my power to catch each little typo, and polishing it until it’s as shiny and sparkly as I can make it. Then it gets one more editing phase – the phase most people refer to as the proof reading phase – before I call it done.
After that, it gets yet another read through, and then – and only then – I create the file that will be uploaded to Smashwords; the one that contains all the copyright stuff, and the piece I put at the end of all my eBooks to tell everyone where they can find me online (assuming they want to, of course).
Sometimes I’ve already written the synopsis for it by this point, other times I haven’t. If I have, then I read through it again to make sure it still sounds good to me. If I haven’t, I write it now. Either way, once the synopsis is done, I check through it for typos and grammatical errors; just like I would a story. After all, I don’t want people to be put off by a synopsis filled with mistakes, which they would – understandably – assume would reflect the quality of the eBook itself, making them reluctant to take a chance on my book. At least, I assume that would be the case, since I know that I myself am reluctant to take a chance on a new author if they can’t even get the editing right for their synopsis, since I assume their story will be the same way; the synopsis is your chance to grab a reader, after all, and the reader deserves the little bit of extra time and effort needed to clean up those typos.
Anyway, once I’m happy with my synopsis, it’s time to publish!
I publish via Smashwords, because I find their website easier to navigate, which means I can publish myself, despite being blind. I did also publish via Amazon for a while, but I had to have help with this, and after a certain conversation with an Amazon representative – which I won’t go in to hear – I decided I was no longer happy to publish directly with Amazon. I allow Smashwords to distribute my books everywhere, so – perhaps – one day my books will appear on Amazon again; when Amazon decides I sell enough copies to qualify for distribution to them from Smashwords. In the meantime, I publish via Smashwords, and they send my books to sites like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple, among others.
And that, in a nutshell, is how I get my stories from idea to eBook.