THE END, two words that carry a large emotional load for a writer. For some writers, typing THE END, whether literally or figuratively, brings an enormous sense of relief because they have finally finished working on a project that might well have been a struggle, while for others there is a tremendous sense of loss as they part company with characters they have spent days, weeks, months, perhaps even years in the company of.
One thing that all writers, especially indie writers, can agree on is that THE END is really only the beginning. No matter how good, or bad, it might feel to finally finish that first draft, we all know there is more work to do. You might take a break from the project, possibly even a lengthy one, but sooner or later you need to go back to it and start work on the 2nd draft, where you start polishing the rough edges and begin to make it shine.
There’s a renewed feeling of relief, or loss, when you reach THE END for the 2nd time, but it is still just the beginning because there’s more work to do. For some there’s a third or even a fourth draft to be done — I have heard that Jeffrey Archer drafts a book 15 times, which to my mind is a little crazy, but if that’s his process, who am I to argue with it — while for others it’s on to the editing.
I have reached THE END, which I don’t actually type because it somehow feels false to me, a total of 9 times on my most recent project, INTO THE FIRE, Book 4 in my INSPECTOR STONE MYSTERIES. There was the handwritten first draft, which I did a few years ago along with ten others when I didn’t have a laptop or access to the internet, then there was the 2 typed drafts where I either amended scenes to make them flow better, and after that I did 5 editing passes to weed out all the typos and make sure the book flowed smoothly and there were no continuity errors.
The final stage for me was to go through the notes from my beta readers, 3 very lovely ladies I met through Goodreads, Carole P Roman, Amy J Hamilton and Jess Jesinghaus, all of whom are published authors in their own and good writers of entertaining books. This is one of my most nerve-wracking stages because I’m getting opinions on what I’ve written for the first time, that can lead to a reasonable amount of work if they have spotted something glaring that I have missed.
Even after all of that work I am still not done. I have hit THE END 9 times, and I have uploaded the book to Draft2Digital and Createspace, the sites I use for publishing, but now the real work begins. Now I have to do the work that I find most difficult and most annoying, I have to promote the book and convince people to buy it, and that is a job that never has THE END attached to it, it’s a job that will continue for the rest of my life.