Inspired by a well-known author’s awesome 10-point account of her writing and editing marathon, which resulted in a complete and perfect manuscript in a matter of months (the novel was subsequently published and is now on the shelves), I decided to share my alternate experience.
Here are my 10-points about how not to get published in the narrative non-fiction space.
1. Amass a humungous amount of research material about a little-known event. Make sure you don’t keep it in any particular order. It’s more fun and spontaneous that way.
2. Start writing before you have any plan of what to write or how to tell the story. Or, for that matter, what the story actually is.
3. Continue to find new and interesting facts. Attempt to weave them into your rambling tale. You might have to alter several characters and scenes as a result, but don’t let that daunt you.
4. Revise and rewrite each chapter at least three times before you go on to the next. It is permissible at this stage to continue re-writing your fave chapter up to ten times, as long as you promise to give all other chapters equal attention.
5. Line-edit all the life and spirit out of your sentences.
6. Continue doing this until you have a huge amorphous manuscript. Then enrol in an editing course and hope to God you can fix it up.
7. Change your writing style at least four times (attempt to mimic the heroes of the literary world or the style of the last book you read). Rewrite your manuscript in each new style.
8. Submit to lots and lots of manuscript development competitions, each time paying a fee of at least $50. Do not hold your breath, because you’ll never hear back.
9. Rewrite the first 50 pages before each submission and change the name of the manuscript.
10. Just before a submission deadline decide to change the tense from past to present. Attempt a complete rewrite in the new tense, which will take all day and all night for a week, give you RSI and a serious pain in the neck.
Bonus extra point: Pay expensive physio bill and dump the entire 110,000 word manuscript into the bottom drawer to ferment.
So there you have it: follow these simple steps and I guarantee you’ll never have to worry about getting published.