Monday, January 10, 2011

NANO and What's Next

For those who have been living in a publishing bubble, November is otherwise known as NANO—National Novel Writing Month—in the writing world. Frankly, I never had much of an opinion of NANO, but I realize that a number of my publishing colleagues do, and for good reason.

For the month of November thousands of people, many whom have never done anything other than think of writing a novel, sit at their computers and pound one out, a novel that is. Then, inspired by their achievement, they quickly turn around on December 1 and query every agent whose name they can get their hands on. No research, no editing, and no real consideration for what this business is about.

Before you all start defending yourself, let me say that there is a good reason for NANO and it’s not all bad. For those of you who have been working hard at your craft it can be a good exercise and, let’s face it, anything that stretches us can be a good exercise. However, just because you wrote it doesn’t mean it’s ready to be submitted. So here’s what I propose:

NAREV—National Revisions Month. The month of December is slow in publishing anyway, so it’s a great time to spend rewriting, revising, and editing your NANO book.

NAQUY—National Query Month. Now that you’ve finished your book [skeptical that you can really “finish” in two months] it’s time to really learn the craft of the query, which means more than just writing the query. It means researching the business as well.

Once you’ve spent three months on your book and your query, I think you’ll really have the distance you need to see if your book is ready to be submitted, and hopefully the knowledge to be a wise investor in your own publishing career.