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Road to self-publishing: First Drafts

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With the self-publishing success of fiction authors like Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, and E.L. James leading them to big print publishing deals, everyone wants to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon. But the road to self-publishing success in the fiction market is hard work. All avenues start and end with ‘self.’ This is the first of several columns that will examine the steps needed to succeed at the process.

The first step in the process is writing the first draft of your book. Books invariably require more than one draft. You will be amazed at how many things you’ll want and need to change after that first draft. But the good news is once you have a first draft, you are ahead of most people who dream of writing.

Some folks are outliners, working out intricate plots in an outline form and then sitting down and writing the story. Others free write – as many minutes or hours as they can put together to write daily or weekly until they have enough for a full book. Others do a combination of outlining and free writing. Play around, find the method that works best for you.

Many writers use the Anne Lamott method of first drafts - just get it written and understand it will be a “shi**y first draft.” From that first draft, you can craft your masterpiece – it’s all so much easier when you have a starting point.

First drafts require meeting another key element, something Ron Carlson refers to often in his book, “Ron Carlson Writes a Story.” That element is staying put in your writing chair while you avoid distractions and write the book.

If you are a writer who wants company while you write, check meet-up for writing groups or consider NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a thirty day challenge that takes place every November. The goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. It’s a great way to jumps start a stalled project and a good way to meet fellow writers in your area.

Writing a first draft can be challenging, but when you finally write those last words, the feeling of joy is indescribable. Just do it. And then you can look forward to the next phase of the process – revisions.


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