Friday, September 16, 2011

Once more into the valley...

Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration - Thomas Edison

In response to my last post, Laila Knight and Andrew Jansen both asked about the critiquing cycles I've been through.

When I thought about it, I found that question remarkably difficult to answer. Like the evolution of language itself, the process is messy and not altogether linear.

So here is what Ghosts of Innocence has been through so far.

I started off using the Critters forum. About 30% went through the regular queue, but it takes several weeks to get each submission through so there's a limit to how much of a novel you can realistically get critiqued that way.

Still on Critters, I then used the "Request for dedicated readers" feature to get a handful of whole-novel critiques.

Later, I discovered Critique Circle and was impressed by the depth of critiques I received there. I am completing a round of pushing the whole novel through the public queues. As long as I can keep to my target, that review will have taken exactly a year.

The opening scenes have had much closer attention. The first chapters got posted both to Critters and to Critique Circle prior to fuller rounds of critiques. I've also made use of other opportunities out there, such as Authoress's "Secret Agent" contests, Ray Rhamey's "Flogging the Quill", and more recently the experimental "The Hook" queue on Critique Circle. These give a very different perspective from regular critiques.

In between times, I have several times printed off the whole thing and read through it to get a reader's perspective. I find this best done after setting it aside for a while so I can come at it almost like it's someone else's work.

So, in terms of how many rounds has it gone through ... pick a number!

If I look at the document version numbering I use on my laptop, where I save a backup copy prior to starting a major round of revisions, I am currently on version 8.

And this whole process has taken just over three years to date.



  1. Hi. Why would one not simply send the work to a publisher or agent? If this is a naive question forgive me: I am not a writer!
    Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  2. Botanist, is the end in sight? I've yet to get to critiquing, and I'm not looking forward to it much!

  3. Bazza, that is a fair question from a non-writer. I had no idea how the industry worked until I was well into my first draft and started researching the publishing process. Simple answer is: publishers and agents expect the work to be well-polished and ready for publication before it reaches them. You have to do all that hard work up-front before you start querying.

    Jen, I intend this to be the last round of critiquing. I will certainly go over everything myself a couple more times, but it will be out the door after that while I work on the next novel.

  4. Wow. I admire your dedication and perspiration. All of that hard work has to pay off! I wish you the best of luck!

  5. Thanks Lindsey. It's been a long road. One day, who knows, it may even lead to publication ;)

  6. Congratz on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You've been at it longer than I have, that's for sure. I wish I could have gotten in on it earlier in the cycle. Guess I'll just have to wait for it to appear on Amazon!


  7. Wow Botanist, you've stuck to your guns. I'm assuming by your experience that those websites are safe. I've always been leary of public online services. Thanks for all the info. It is appreciated. :)

  8. Laila, I assume your concerns about public sites are the possibilities of palgiarism, and/or whether publishing stuff there damages your chance of traditional publication (where publishers are generally looking for first rights).

    For the openly-available sites like FTQ, I think the risks are minimal, because so little text is actually made available.

    All that appears on these sites is a few hundred words. Even if someone lifted that verbatim, that is no help to them in writing the rest of the novel. Plus, in these cases, I've since re-written those parts many times over anyway.

    As for "first rights", the consensus out there seems to be that as long as you only post a few snippets, that doesn't count as "publication".

    If you are worried about the critique groups, they require registration and stories are only available to members, so that doesn't count as publication either. And, even with more (or all) of the story visible to members, the view is that plagiarism is almost impossible to get away with so, again, the risk is small.


I love comments. Please feel free to join in the discussion.

I also try to respond to comments. I usually do so during the early evening (Pacific time) which may be many hours away from now!

So if you leave a comment and return some time later and I haven't responded yet, please don't think I'm ignoring you. I'm not. Honest.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...