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This blog was featured on 05/17/2018
10 Things I've Learned From First Draft to Publish
Written by
Lisa Thomson
May 2018
Written by
Lisa Thomson
May 2018

Whew, finally. You know that feeling? When you finish your novel and you've polished the manuscript...it's had two pro edit go arounds and after X number of years of sweating and swearing on the keyboard, you're ready to PUBLISH. Yeah, that feeling.

Scary, proud, insecure, confident... my feelings run the gamut as I've recently listed my short story collection for pre-order on Amazon.

If you're at this same stage of your writing, please share in the comments as I would love to hear about your process. How did you finally get to this 'end' publishing stage? How did you design your book cover? How many years of editing did you submit yourself to? How did you not give up? I want to hear all of it.

Only three weeks ago, as I was reading through yet more revisions on one of my short stories, I plopped the papers down on my coffee table and proclaimed to quit.

"I give up. I don't know why I'm doing this," I said to my bewildered husband who had only stepped through the door. 

He replied with silence, only a shake of the head. He made eye contact with me and finally said one word, "No."

I sighed and picked my papers back up because I knew he was right.

I would not admit this anywhere else but here at SheWrites I can, because we're all writers. I began my short story collection in 2014. Ahem, that's four years of effort powered by sheer determination. Once my characters began to come to life on the page, they weren't going to let me go anywhere without sharing them with the world. Six short stories (the last one was literally the last story and the longest in my editing process) plus one that I took out altogether, so seven stories initially and you would think that would be a piece of cake. Nope.

Let me share all that I've learned in these four years:

  1. Professional editing is invaluable and a requirement.
  2. Self story editing is a task of passion and continues up until near publish date.
  3. You'll use lots of paper, tons of it, printing your drafts.
  4. In editing you'll follow your instincts as much as you do rules.
  5. You can self teach when it comes to formatting. 
  6. Friends who love to read will be almost as indispensible as your editor.
  7. Your characters will wake you up at night because their story isn't completed.
  8. Dialogue punctuation-becasue you'll want this knowledge anyway, might as well study it up for your next novel.
  9. No one will be as meticulous about your finished manuscript as you-you are the last pair of eyes on your book before publishing and therefore, checking for pesky typos and grammatical errors will fall to you.
  10. Bringing a work to completion will give you the confidence to keep moving forward with other writing projects in the works or still in incubation.

So, you could say I've learned a lot during my first fiction publishing process. But I know that I have so much more to learn and I can't wait for the next round of lessons to begin. How about you?

My short story collection Hearts Unbroken is going live on Amazon on June 1st in both e-book and paperback. 

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  • Lisa Thomson

    Thank you, Alma. And no, you're definitely not crazy---just a writer. Good luck to you with your latest writing project :)

  • First of all, congratulations for reaching this stage! I am still at the start of it, so I can only dream about what it will feel like to say "It is ready". I really liked what you said about the characters waking you up at night - I'm glad to know I'm not the only one, and that I'm not crazy! :)

  • Lisa Thomson

    So true. It's all part of the process, I suppose. Thanks so much, Janice!