11.12.13

An auspicious date on the calendar, and a decent writing day for me. I had to flip my day, do business in the morning and write this afternoon, so I'm not done, ergo, no word count just yet. But I wanted to direct you to this blog by Kris Rush on NaNoWriMo. She makes a lot of excellent points about the month-long novel extravaganza.

Professional writers view NaNo with a healthy dose of skepticism. Mainly because we do this every month, so there's this rather snobbish view toward a bunch of writers suddenly dedicated themselves to the craft for a single month and calling themselves authors. I don't buy into that crap, by the way. Yes, I do write at least 25K a month, more like 40-50K, but that doesn't make me more of a writer than the NaNo folk. It just means I've been blessed enough to do this full time. Sometimes, established authors forget how things were in the beginning.

Also, there are a wad of submissions that go out on December 1. Yes, there have been books written during NaNo that get published - 14 was my first, I can testify that it does happen. But more often than not, they don't, for several reasons:

1. 50,000 words does not a novel make. (I made this mistake, remember, before I knew anything about the industry, so don't think I'm picking on you.) Most commercial novels are between 70-100,000 words, and at least 400-500 manuscript pages in 12 point font. So by "winning" NaNo, you've only laid down half to three-quarters of what you need to be on par with the rest of the industry.

2. Writing is only half of the game. REVISING is where the real writing is done. Shooting off a manic manuscript that you haven't taken several weeks to edit, edit, edit some more, get reads from friends, revise again, is foolhardy. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

3. A million submissions on December 1 overload the agents, their readers, and their assistants, so a lot of good work can fall through the cracks.

4. We now have the very simple, expediant method to get our work into the hands of readers, self-pubbing. Please, don't do it right away. Give yourself the time to revise and get some good solid editing from a great editor before you put your masterpiece up for sale.

So. With all that in mind, when you finish, and accept your congratulations and adulations, take a day, celebrate, then get your butt back in the chair and make a real novel out of your story.

Sweet dreams!

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J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fifteen critically acclaimed thrillers and is the co-author of the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. With over a million books in print, Ellison’s work has been published in twenty-five countries and thirteen languages. She is also the co-host of A Word on Words, Nashville's premier literary TV series, which airs on Nashville Public Television. She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville. Visit JTEllison.com, and follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick or at Facebook.com/JTEllison14.