As I’m writing this, my first “blog”, I’m listening to an amazing track from my mate, J.D. Fortune, formerly of INXS, “Fire ‘Til We Burn”. He’s the perfect example of someone, with unlimited talent, that despite some intense setbacks, is always writing new lyrics, composing new music, always moving forward. I’m exactly the same, which is probably one of the reasons why we’ve been friends for almost 10 years, plus we don’t bullshit each other.
A year ago, I decided to form my own publishing company, U.S. iNDiE BOOKS to publish my debut thriller, Boysie Blake ~ Problem Solver and those of other great authors that I knew I would run across. Having enjoyed a modicum of success as an iNDiE writer/director, I felt that I might have some knowledge that I could cross platform into this new arena. It’s been an interesting journey and one that’s evolving so rapidly, that if you blink, you’ll miss something.
In the iNDiE film world, there’s a lot of people writing, shooting, cutting & distributing their media. Same in the iNDiE publishing world except that the people behind a book, although there are similarities, are a much smaller group. Once you, the author, have written your book and rewritten it multiple times and polished it multiple times and had it edited – wait, you did have it edited by someone other than you, yeah? No? “It’s too expensive. No one can do it as well as I can. I edited it as I wrote.” Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Know what you just did? Beside murdering the alphabet, you killed any chance of your baby going from crawling to walking to running.
In the film business, and make no mistake, it is a business, be it studio – see traditional publisher – or iNDiE film – see iNDiE publisher, publish your book before it’s ready and you just destroyed all of your hard work. Period. Writing takes time, lots of it, and you have to understand the process. As the legendary Katharine Ross once told me, “Max, there’s three films you make: the one you write, the one you shoot and the one you edit.” Same exact process for an author only the shoot part become the rewrite stage. You did rewrite it, yeah? Hopefully not right after the editor gave you back your manuscript, but a few weeks later. Writing is writing is writing. It’s a process. Great novels and scripts are not created in the initial birthing. They’re made in the rewrite. Lots of rewrites. Once you’ve finished your novel, print it out, I beg you. Do not stare admiringly into the computer screen ’cause it just ain’t no good, bubbah. You can compare the experience to reading a paperback or an eBook. Real versus digital. Same book. 100% a completely different experience.
Something amazing happens when you print it out and, now wait for it, put it into a drawer and walk away. Yeah, that’s right, walk away. Fuggedaboutit. Let it percolate, ripen, mature, evolve. Do this for as long as you can bear. At least a month, three is better, six is wonderful. Why? Because something amazing happens. As you drift past the drawer, the characters in your book will get irritated, lonely, sad and will begin to quietly call you. It’ll be almost inaudible at first, then the voices will become more insistent, louder, and more insistent until you can’t stand the noise and you’ll rush over to the drawer, open it, pull out your manuscript, open the pages and start to read and then suddenly you’ll realize that your vision has blurred because your damn eyes are wet and you’re smiling. Yes, that’s right, smiling and a warm and fuzzy feeling will wash over you. Enjoy it. Revel in it, because that’s just the beginning.
Now what? Now you have to be brutally honest with yourself and cut the umbilical, print out 10 copies and give them to 5 friends and, if you can find them, 5 willing strangers. Let them read your work. Give ’em a bottle as wine as encouragement – only not 2 buck chuck – and wait. This is the hard part, because now you’ll want to bite off your fingers as you wait and, worse still, you’ll be tempted to start the rewrite. Don’t do it. I beg you. Wait until all ten have given you their feedback, or at least those that actually read your manuscript.
Once you’ve looked over their reviews with anxiety chewing away your insides, if more than one person is making the same critique about a character or plot point or story arc, then give it some validity. If more than three say the same thing, then you better start listening. Only once you’ve done this, will you be ready to move onto the first rewrite and believe me, all manuscripts need rewriting. My debut, Boysie, went through six complete rewrites and over twenty polishes before it went to the editor, back to me for more polishing, back to the editor, back to me for more polishing, back to the editor, back to me and then to the line editor. Only then did I feel I was ready to publish Boysie.
So, now you’re at the starting line and you’ve made the decision to go iNDiE. Yippe! And just how how are you going to bring eyeballs to your site. You do have a site, yeah? You are blogging, yeah? You do have an amazing cover, yeah? You do have some cashola stashed away for promo, yeah?
Uh, no, not really. Oy gevalt! No worries. Neither did we, but more on that tomorrow.