This year will be the first time in three years that I won't lock myself in my room to hammer out 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Why? Because in 2008, the first year I participated, I wrote a book called ANGELFIRE, which ended up selling in a three book deal to Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. In 2009, I worked on its sequel WINGS OF THE WICKED. And now in 2010, I'll be editing WINGS instead of working on a new book.
Yep, you heard right. ANGELFIRE was a NaNoWriMo book and it's getting published. Yep, it can happen and it HAS happened.
NaNoWriMo is awesome. It gets you to write. You can't finish a book and/or publish it without writing it first. NaNoWriMo makes writing fun because you're all in this together, working toward the same goal, supporting one another, and rooting for every single book. When you have such amazing support behind you, anything is possible. Winning NaNoWriMo is very possible. You know what else is possible? Getting that book published.
For me, personally, the key is small goals. Writing 1700 words-ish a day isn't all that hard. It's a relatively small goal. While 10k word days are rare for any writer, my average is 2-4k with my goal hovering at 2k a day. I like to keep my goals small because they're easy to reach, and when you hit your goal early, you feel up to writing even more. When this happens regularly, you'll reach that finish line faster than you thought you would.
Lots of books written during NaNoWriMo have been published. My success story isn't without its bumps in the road, though - bumps in the road I put there. The day I finished the first draft of ANGELFIRE, on November 23, 2008, I queried. No, I'm not kidding.
I was colossally stupid.
And guess what happened? Lots of no's. And nobody is shocked. So, I wised up and spent the next two months revising and rewriting and adding much needed words. Then I queried and got an offer of representation from an agent who, on November 23, 2009 - one year to the day of finishing the first draft - called me and said, "Prepare yourself. Harper is going to offer."
On February 15, 2011, my NaNoWriMo book will be released as a real, physical, hardcover book. With PAGES. And INK. And possibly PAPERCUTS. And it'll be in bookstores all over the country (and in Germany, Turkey, and Poland so far!)
That was the greatest 24 hours of my life and I thank NaNoWriMo for providing such an awesome tool - and frankly, a month-long party - dedicated to helping writers actually WRITE. Just remember to revise and rewrite before you query!
And HAVE FUN!!
A toast to NaNoWriMo and all its participants. ;-)
Ready, set, GO!