Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Wrote a Book, Now What?

I Wrote a Book, Now what do I do?
     This question comes up at every workshop we’ve presented this past three months. While the majority of attendees come to learn how to write or how to improve their writing, there is always one person who brings a completed manuscript as if to prove their words, “I wrote a book.”
     I don’t know if they expect us to sit right down and read their books then and there or maybe take them home and forget about our own writing while we read their masterpieces.
     Without knowing anything about these people, I do know they believe in what they’ve written and know that their books will become their retirement income or make them famous and Hollywood will come knocking on their doors.
     Taking a chance, I asked to look at one of the works in January. The work was competent, the story deadly dull. It seems like nearly every middle-aged or older woman writing a first book is explaining how she made it on her own after her divorce. Unless it contains a strong plot, clever writing, and humor, people won’t want to read it.
     What do you do once you’ve written your first book? Assuming you worked in total isolation and only your mother or husband has told you how wonderful it is, your next step is to join a writing group where it can be critiqued objectively. Keeping in mind that the words are not your first born children, you may have to cut, chop and/or change many of them. Rarely will a critique group suggest dropping the entire project. If they are good, they’ll find the quality in your work and offer suggestions for improving other parts of it.
     I belong to three different writing groups. Each has its own personality.
     In one we read up to seven pages of our project aloud and receive instant critiques. I like this group because hearing my words helps me understand the cadence and rhythm of my writing. It also helps me to know whether or not my dialogue sounds natural.
     The second group consists of a variety of writers, from beginner to published. We usually have a writing prompt at the beginning of the session followed by critiquing previously submitted ten pages of our works in progress. This is a supportive group where everyone critiques in a different way. Some are strong on proof-reading, others on plot and content. It all helps.
     The third is for fiction writers, by invitation only. All the members are intent on publishing, either traditionally or self, but publishing is our goal. To that end, quality is our first objective. Each week two writers submit work on line then the group critiques twenty pages. Each member brings a different set of eyes and a different set of skills to the critique, but all offer constructive advice and plenty of positive feedback.
     We all want to tell a compelling story that the public will get drawn into and enjoy. The support from this group has helped me tremendously toward publication of all of my books.
So, you’ve written a book. Now what? Expose it to a writing group and carry on from there. And good luck. See you in Hollywood.
Veronica Helen Hart (Ronnie) is an award winning author of several books, all but one traditionally published. This year she will have two more launched, The Swimming Corpse (A Blenders Story), by Champagne Books, and The Reluctant Daughters, scheduled release for May 1, by Double Edge Press. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, EPIC, Florida Writers Association and the Ormond Writers League.


Big Mike said...

There are a variety of motivations for writing. I've attended writers meeting where half the people did not want to disclose how to GET published but only wanted to read their stories to others. I mean they'd actual complain if you discussed getting your foot in the door or how to promo. Weird.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Mike, these groups are open to promoting as well as spurring their members on to success.

Thanks, Ronnie. Congrats on your cover for Reluctant Daughters, too.

KMTolan said...

Good article. Yeah, the last thing you want to think about when it comes to writing a book is how much money you'll get. Getting a writing group is golden when they're motivated to publish. In the end, most books tend to be a team effort.