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The Reality of Book Publishing

Updated on October 3, 2013

This article falls under the category of doing what I say and not what I do for I am the first to admit that I do not follow the writing process the way I taught it to my students.

About eight months ago I self-published my first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” and it was at that point that I realized I had not consciously followed any of the accepted steps that are suggested when writing. I used the word ‘consciously’ intentionally because there are writers, like myself, who seem to follow the suggested writing process almost instinctually.

When I had finished my novel I realized that the writing process had been followed but it was done in an almost abstract form. Since then I have reflected on all the writing I have done since the novel was published (close to 200 articles) and not once did I sit down and do the step-by-step process as it is suggested and yet the process was completed in each article.

Perhaps before we go any further I should explain the writing process as it is taught and suggested to many would-be writers.


A writer during the brainstorm process.
A writer during the brainstorm process. | Source
The first and only novel
The first and only novel | Source

The Process

The following are the main steps suggested when one sits down to write:

· Pre-writing: ideas, random thoughts, looking for a direction

· Planning & Structure: organizing the work in your head. This would include brainstorming, outline and character development.

· Writing: this is basic free-form writing, letting the story flow without concern over grammar or sentence structure.

· Revising: moving the pieces of your story around so that a natural flow is apparent.

· Editing: much different from revising. Here is where the nuts and bolts of proper grammar come into play.

· Publishing: how do we get that finished piece out to the reading public?


Now It Is Time for a Reality Check

Could I see a show of hands from the number of people who actually do this process the way it is outlined above? I have no scientific data to back this up but I am guessing few hands were raised, especially when we are talking about writing daily articles of the sort one might find on HubPages. Why? Simply because this is a time-consuming process that requires more hours than most of us have. We have lives to lead, children to raise, spouses to visit with, errands to run and on and on we go as we sort through our daily lives. Time demands that we use the free-form style that I mentioned earlier so we still have time to live.

I have found that the good writers do this instinctually. The ideas just come to them. The planning and structure happen as they are walking from the kitchen to the den. The writing tends to be nearly at final stage on the first write and revising and editing is done as the writing is being done so that once the article is completed the final draft is basically done. There may be one read-through to check for mistakes but that’s about it. The whole process consists of the time it took to write the article once and re-read it once.

In fact, this writer has found the last step, that of publishing, takes as long if not longer than it took to write the article. Posting the article on different sites, making sure the search engines pick it up, putting it out on the social media, adding all the bells and whistles so that the article looks good, these steps take a great amount of time.

The ball game changes greatly when discussing the writing of a novel.


My Novel Process

As I have stated earlier in other articles, when I wrote my novel it began as a challenge. Having read a book by Tom Robbins I challenged myself as a writing exercise to write the most bizarre short story that I could create. When I had finished the short story was basically the introduction to a novel that took on a life of its own. The story literally just came to me and I could see the entire outline in my mind.

Not once did I sit down and write an outline; not once did I sit down and sketch out my characters and develop them. Not once did I formally brainstorm or plan a particular structure for the novel. I basically began with step three, namely the writing step, and then moved on from there.

The outline for the story magically appeared in my brain and I followed it without notes. I knew where the story was going as I wrote. I pictured characters from my past and added them to the story as I was writing, molding them into the ethereal outline in my brain. Since this was a strange fantasy to begin with it was not hard to find characters from the 60’s who I had known who would perfectly fit into the story. When I felt it was time for a personal anecdote I pulled from my past stories that I felt would work with the novel.

Only when I had finished the first draft (after about six months) did I begin the revising and editing steps and those were combined in a series of revisions. While doing these steps I added to the book, developing the characters more, adding to the scenes more, basically giving the skeleton some muscles and tendons. In fact, I am fairly confident in stating that the revision process took much longer than the original draft.


PUBLISHING

Oh, the nightmares of publishing! As I have stated before, my novel was met with great indifference by agents and publishers so eventually the decision was made to self-publish and that, of course, meant that it also had to be self-marketed. As of the writing of this article that process is still going on simply because marketing a book without a working budget is an ongoing process that requires patience and a great deal of creativity. If you care to read about the self-publishing you can see another article I wrote about that topic at this site.

http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Self-Publish-A-Book-My-Story


How do you write?

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Final Reflections

As I stated earlier I suspect that most writers of articles follow the process of writing that I have adopted simply because of time constraints. However, I seriously doubt that many novel writers follow my writing style when writing a 355-page work of fiction.

I make no claims that my process is better than another process nor do I recommend one way over another. I am a big advocate of the writing process as outlined above; I simply don’t follow it because I have one of those minds that works better in freestyle mode. My writing style seems to be an extension of my living style; I have always been a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy, never really knowing which direction my life is going to take but rather reacting to some silent voice in my mind. It works for me but might not work for many other writers and that is fine for all of us.

Bottom line is a writer needs to find what works for them. If a formal following of the writing process is your cup of tea then by all means follow it. If you are a willy-nilly writer such as myself then by all means follow that style. A writer has a passion to write and that is the great secret ingredient. If you have a passion to write then write! Just as a writer develops a writing voice a writer also develops a writing style that works for them and them alone. I have known writers who could only write in the morning; others who wrote better in the middle of the night. Some have to have complete quiet while others need Mozart cranked to the max on the stereo to get their creative juices flowing.

Who really cares? Just write!

One other word about writing and then I’ll leave you for today. If writing is your passion then you need to believe in yourself. There are many who will tell you that you aren’t good enough or your writing isn’t good enough. There will be days when it seems like the only one who believes in you is you and that is shaky at times. You need to believe and write. I can recall off the top of my head at least a dozen instances of famous writers who met rejection over and over again and yet they kept writing.

If it is your passion then feed your passion and write.

2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)

"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Margarita, there are days it seems to me as well that it is just flowing out of my brain. It's been that way now for three years. Writer's block? I have no idea what that means. My problem is I don't have enough hours in the day.

      Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

    • MargaritaEden profile image

      MargaritaEden 5 years ago from Oregon

      I wish I could write as freely as you can, it seems information is just flowing out of your brain :) I like how you asking us to raise our hands if we are following the outlined process, I wish I did follow all of the steps, but as you said, lack of time is always a problem for a lot of us. Useful and interesting hub Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you jainismus; I appreciate it!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      dwachira, I need to take my own advice sometimes. LOL I get so busy that I forget to do some of these things. Thank you for the visit; always appreciated.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Lately i have found myself paying much attention on revising and editing before posting the article. Am glad you mentioned those here. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Raci! I'm not quite sure what process I had when I wrote the novel but it seemed to work. Thank you for visiting; always nice to have you drop by.

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      Hello Bill...i am looking forward to reading your novel so as to follow the writing process there...i am always an advocate of fiction writers and i introduce to my students...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You too, Eddy!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Here's to a wonderful day for you both;

      take care;

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, isn't that a miracle to have a partner tho praises you so? That is exactly what Bev does for me. She encourages me daily, keeps me focused, aimed in the right direction. She is the first to read every hub, the first to offer encouragement and even gentle suggestions.

      She is the first to tell me to keep going and if a hub doesn't do well she just shrugs her shoulders and tells me I am a marvelous writer and my time will come. And I have a tear in my eye right now as I write that.

      I am in love dear friend, and so are you, and life is a miracle.

      Thank you for sharing that part of your story. We will be off to the country and garage sales today and I will be taking pictures of barns and cemeteries and dreaming up new ideas for writing.

      Have a fantastic day. Love and peace, always,

      bill

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Each one of your hubs gives me food for thought Billy and this one no different.

      My yearning to write has been with me since a little girl.

      I would write stories mainly on animals in school and the teachers would enter them into writing competitions throughout the county;I won many prizes and certificates;my favourite being ones being on 'kindness to animals.'

      I spent most of my early years in the woods (commins) with my Beagle Lassie and these adventures we both had were always included in my stories.

      However when I took the prizes home I would be greeted with "My god the rest must have been bad then!!"

      Not a lot of encouragement for a little girl !!!

      Then I wrote story after story for my children when they were growing up;but they never passed my front door.

      When I first began to write on HubPages I only composed rhyming poetry;at the time part of me couldn't see the point in 'freeverse'and the other part was scared of being laughed at.

      I think I only scratched the surface;that's what it feels like when I look back now.

      I didn't think it was ME;until that very first time curiosity got the better of me and I had to try.

      I so loved the freedom of expression that it gave me and then came Rictameter and Haiku poetry plus I created my own Eddymeter to.

      I'd forgotten all about my Eddymeter ;I'll have to compose some more.

      As for writing a book or story;most of mine unravels as my pen travels over the paper;or fingers fly (move a little fast) over the keyboard.

      Most of the time I don't know what is going to happen until I get to that precise moment myself.

      I know that since that very first hub I published on here that I have grown as a writer and a person.I have all my wonderful friends on here to thank for that and the good part is we never stop learning do we!!

      So I think that I can say that my writing is not structured in any shape or form.

      Thank you again my dear friend Billy for another hub which gave me much food for thought.

      Oh and before I go just another thought;a very important one.

      When small I had a father who ridiculed me then a husband who carried on where he left off but now I am so lucky because I have a wonderful partner who encourages me and makes me feel so clever and never stops telling me what a great writer I am.

      Right I'm going now;take care and enjoy your weekend;you and Bev.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm the same way completely Tams, although if I were to write an instructional hub, which I won't, I would probably have to have some structure. That's probably why I don't do them; no enjoyment in them. :) Thank you kind lady! I, for one, hope you never quit writing.

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 5 years ago from Missouri

      I write freestyle. Sometimes I go back and find glaring errors and fix them and gasp.

      My English teacher would likely string me up at times.

      I already think too much. Writing with structure would likely make me quit.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Christy! I greatly admire you and your work and your words mean a great deal to me.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You are right that we do not always follow a set organization for our articles. Sometimes we do, and other times time is of the essence! Congrats on your novel and on the large number of hubs you have published here!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Always! I wouldn't know structure if it hit me alongside the head. I appreciate you greatly and have a wonderful weekend!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Everyone is different. I go for days without a desire to write, then all of a sudden the urge hits me. I find myself jotting down a word, least i forget the idea. A picture can bring on a poen or story. I must admit that i am not a structured writer. Enjoyed your hub..Thank you for sharing..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sandra, that's interesting indeed; I have found in the last year or so that some of my best ideas come right after I wake up in the morning. I'm sure there is a reason for it but I'm just glad it happens.

      And I fully agree with you that youngsters need a structure; their minds are so easily distracted and disjointed that I fear what would be written without structure....oh wait, I've seen what they write and it was scary.

      Thank you my friend; peace and happiness to you this weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Ruby, I can drift with the best of them! Give me a distraction and I jump on it with both feet. That's why I sequester myself off to my quiet studio and then strap myself in the chair with blinders on. :) Thank you my dear and have a great weekend!

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      The process of writing is, as you say, an individual thing. I quite agree with you about my own process. Ideas come into my head while I'm washing dishes. I play around with them as I'm falling asleep, and bingo -- when I get up, I sit down to the computer and write, mostly without revision, although I do proofing. The most fun hubs I've written so far are the ones about Paris. With those, I just picked out an image and free associted with it as I wrote. The story sort of hung together on its own.

      For children or those just starting to write, however, I think having a process is helpful. Like having parameters to hold things together until you get the hand of it.

      Great hub.

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Revising and editing are what slow me down. My thirst for learning is keeping me from being fed by my writing. Thanks for another great hub read to get my feet back onto writing ground.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Spenser....ex-private eye...I would have had to be brain damaged not to pick up on that one. Thank you for following and have a wonderful weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jools, you are a person of great tastes if you liked that video. I, too, love that album. Thank you my friend and have a marvelous weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Albion, I thank you sir! There obviously is not right way (excuse the pun)...so we all figure it out in good time, or so I believe.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 5 years ago from South Carolina

      billybuc,

      I believe you're the first person to pick up on that Spenser thing! I'm looking forward to Ace Atkins take on the Parker series next month......

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Billy, interesting article. I wing it sometimes and other times, I can spend hours before I put anything down at all, but as you say, it is very difficult to hone any sort of process when you work and want to do things other than write. I still haven't struck a good balance, I've only been writing (again) since September but I'm sure it will come and I will get better. I loved your video choice - from one of my favourite albums.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Billy. Great food for thought here. Great hub, great interest.

      Graham.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Resspenser...would that be the Spenser from the novels? Anyway, thank you, Sir, for stopping by. I'll be visiting your site in the near future.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Gail! We got it back in the mail today; no charge which was nice and as it should be. So it's on its way! Thank you for stopping by; I agree that if I did research articles I would write in a completely different manner.

      Hope you are well and have a great weekend!

      bill

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub! Voted up and I'll be back to check out some more....

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Am looking forward to reading your novel.

      I found this article interesting and suspect that each writer does develop their own way of putting articles and books together. Some people work best with a lot of structure and others like freestyle.

      I'm a combination of the two and of course the type of article I'm writing has a lot to do with my writing process. When I'm doing non-fiction research articles, such as for nursing, I'm very structured.

      But I prefer the creativity that fiction and travel articles allow.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I see you are a registered nurse Denise! You have my admiration! Thank you about the novel. We have a few things in common...free spirit...Alaska....looking forward to reading more of you work.

      Take care and best of luck at the hospital this weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, you are killing me softly with laughter! They never gave us an exact number of Hail Marys and Our Fathers that had to be said in order to be forgiven for all of those filthy thoughts we all had. Damn, I wonder if I've said enough of if I should start up again tonight? Thank you Paula! Never a dull moment when you join the party!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Interesting and useful-published a novel? Congratulations to you! I'm returning to this hub for a closer read in the near future...have a long weekend of my 12 hr shifts coming up...

      Well written and interesting.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill...I say if not for Sister Mary Shrew & Mother Superior Cruella, some of us might even have a NORMAL thought process, without having to had 46 years of agrresive therapy to rid us of the cloak of shame and sin. God love the little frustrated penguins. "Yes, Sister, I know that boys are evil and my knees are exposed and I have a terrible attitude, believing I have any rights whatsoever....I'm sorry.....I'll sit in private and pary and reflect....and btw......has anyone ever told you, you smell like Holy water??"

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lisa, I do the same thing! I try to write freely but the nuns were so effective in training me to correct mistakes that I just can't help myself when I am writing. Not sure if that's good or bad but there you go.

      Thanks for stopping by my friend. Have a wonderful evening!

      bill

    • EclecticFusion profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Tennessee

      Voted this useful and up! I have a hard time following any kind of "rules" or structure when I write. I just dive in! I try to 'just write', but it doesn't work for me. It should be freeing to just jot down words and not worry about spelling or sentence structure, but I always stop dead in my tracks when I realize mistakes. I do that when I'm reading, too! Thanks for describing the process!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teaches, that is heartwarming to hear that! I believe in my writing and you should to, and all the rejection slips in the world can't and won't change that. I am now looking at Kindle as an avenue I need to pursue. I wish you the best of luck with your novel and I will be one of the first to buy it when it is finished. Your friend....bill

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am not an emotional person, as a norm, and it takes a lot for me to show it. However, I cried after reading this article because it was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you, Billybuc, for the encrouragement and inspiration. I believe it was God-sent.

      I am currently working on a novel and I was thinking through all the traditional suggestions that you listed, I couldn't match up with it. I am, as you stated, working out my own method of writing, which is quite identical to yours.

      Voted up and on to your self-publish article.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bobbi; I will turn to him shortly and see what he has to say! Peace and happiness to you my friend!

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida

      billybuc,

      About the publishing issue--Reynold Jay on HubPages has written many books, and put them on Amazon in hardcopy and I believe on Amazon's Kindle Reader. And he is making money and I am sure he would be glad to answer any of your question--.

      I did an Interview on him in one of my hubs--and I have his first book to read when I slow down. I have read most of the others one I interviewed him about months ago.

      He was a Special Ed teacher, and I do not know him personally--but I believe you would enjoy talking to him.

      He is a good person and likes to help people.

      When I start my first book--hopefully in May, if my Aunt stays well, then I will be seeking his advice.

      Just a thought,

      Your Hub Friend,

      Bobbi

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leni, thank you for visiting my site. I believe there are quite a few of us free spirits roaming around the writing world.

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 5 years ago from UK

      For me, my writing either flows or it doesn't...if it flows it usually flows freely - if I try to follow the rules it doesn't usually work. As a free spirit I found your article both interesting and useful and have as such voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tillsontitan, yep, I have those post it notes all over my studio. I would have a hard time getting through a writing day without them. Thank you for your viewpoint and comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sherri, I totally agree. As long as the ice and snow doesn't melt all will be well in my little writing world! Thank you my friend!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I'm a 'by the seat of my pants' kinda gal. I have notes all over the house with thoughts, a notebook by my computer, and lots of sleepless nights revising in my head. This was a great read from a very creative mind. I wish you well on your novel! Voted up.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Your hub sums it up: the writing process is a matter of individual experience and preference. It's always a good idea to learn about others' processes; maybe we can incorporate them into our own processes, maybe not. How each of us writes is as individual as snowflakes. Thanks for sharing your bit of ice and snow.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Natasha, it has been my experience that many writers carry that notebook around with them. I would be lost without it, and even if there are ideas that are not used for years maybe one day they will come in handy. When I wrote my novel there were several passages that were from ideas that had come years before. I had finally found a vessel where they worked quite nicely.

      Thank you my dear and have a wonderful weekend!

      Bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      BuyaBiz, I think that is quite common for many. My biggest problem is not writing down ideas when I get them for my memory is not what it should be. Thank you for your comment.

    • BizVT34 profile image

      BizVT34 5 years ago from USA

      My free form has cost me a bunch of good topics. I really should have more of a process and your article gives me some ideas. Voted up.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I have always loved writing. For at least 12 years, I have almost always carried a notebook and a pen with me. When a thought comes in to my head, I jot it down. Most of my thoughts never really get anywhere, but sometimes I go back to them and really turn them in to something. For the most part, the practice has just left me with notebooks full of half thoughts, but it is very frustrating to think of something I like, not write it down, and then be unable to recall it later.

      Voted useful and up!