About the @#$% forms

Originally posted on Xchyler Publishing‘s blog, Saturday, June 8, 2013

Scott the New X Author: About the @#$% forms

So, I’ve been threatening for weeks to write about the forms and procedures that The X editorial staff uses for analyzing incoming manuscripts, and for structuring and strengthening projects they decide to take on.

But it’s a good thing I held off until now, because this past week we held the actual Project Launch for Diamond Jubal: A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk. As a consequence, I am no longer writing from an outsider standpoint, the business consultant type that I am by education, training, and experience. I now can say I have actually done them.

Contrary to my hopes, our dear Editor-in-Chief did not recognize the innate superiority of that 5,000 word Word-formatted outline that I have poured dozens of hours into—the one I have mentioned here in the blog—and did not allow me to get away with doing things my own way. Her words were, “You will fill out the Project Management Workbook.”

Now for anyone who has been on a long trip to Antarctica and hadn’t figured it out already, Penny and I are siblings. Being told by someone whose snotty nose you wiped, whose diaper you changed, and upon whom you have doted all her life, that you will do something is a bit galling. She used the Mommy voice. On me!

But at least partially because I knew I was going to be writing about the experience for the blog, attempting to demonstrate to others why they (not me, of course: I’m the exception to every rule) should be team players and help the editors by filling out their forms, I answered “You will” with “You’ve got it.”

So I got up at 4:00 am today to dive right in. I knew it was going to take a while, and it was both better than I thought and as bad as I feared. Because this stuff is hard. It’s not stream of consciousness, it’s not conversational writing—like a blog post—and it’s not entertaining. It’s work. But it is so very worth it!

I’m not going to go through and give instructions for the process. That’s the editors’ job. I am just going to tell you that if you’re anything like me, you consider yourself an educated, thoughtful, grown-up adult, with your own way and style of writing. You figure you know how to structure your plot, plan the arcs of your characters, that you know where each of them is at all times. You know your outline inside out. That was me: I knew it inside out. But now I know it outside in, because the process made me massage it until the cracks showed.

Dag-nabbit!Imagine my horror, when with this blog post half-written in my head, after ten (yes ten) hours with the Project Management Workbook, I discovered a glaring narrative flaw in my outline. I stared hard, stared again, swallowed hard, and fixed it in the outline.

I’m not going to pretend that my outline is now so water tight that the novel will write itself, and the editors won’t come back at me with major stuff. But at least I’ll be spared that particular embarrassment.

And all thanks to a process that I was (not so) secretly resisting. So thanks a lot Xeditors! (That’s pronounced “skeditors” . . . you heard it here first, folks.) You really know what you’re doing. Go fig.

p.s. I fired off an email to Management today recommending that all authors be required to sign Confidentiality Agreements as part of their contracts, protecting the forms and processes The X gives them for free.

Just out of curiosity I recently got info from one of the self-publishing houses—you know, the ones who take $5,000 and give you a self-published book with the punctuation corrected? They don’t offer anything like what you get for free from The X, but they would love to be selling it.

Co-authors Scott and Julie Tarbet

So if/when you have the privilege of having that Project Management Workbook plunked down in front of you, don’t gripe, moan, or groan: just get ‘er done. Reap the benefits. And be proud that you’re considered good enough for the exercise.

Author Scott “The Old Guy” Tarbet and his long-suffering wife, Julie, are co-authoring a Steampunk adventure, Diamond Jubal: Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, slated for a Christmas release.

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