Tag Archives: Scott Pack

Feeling drafty!

A couple of days ago I listened to a live talk on Facebook by publisher Scott Pack on the five most common mistakes people make when submitting their manuscripts.  The most interesting point to me was when Scott said that in his experience about half the people who submit are sending a manuscript too early.  He said some of these manuscripts might even have been very good after a third or fourth draft, but they were rejected.  The reason this struck a chord with me is that I have done this myself many times.  Caught up in the exhilaration of finishing a book, I’ve rushed it off into the outside world without another thought.  If you think about it, it’s like pushing your baby out of the door and into the cold alone without even a coat and hat.  In fact you haven’t put any clothes on them at all!  They are not going to survive!

How do you resist the temptation to submit too early?  It’s difficult, but you have to start thinking in terms of first draft, second draft, third draft and so on and move your expectations so that submitting becomes connected with the fifth draft, or the sixth one, or whenever you decide you can’t possibly do any more to improve your work.  The first draft is just a sketch.  Or the naked baby again.  Don’t let anyone see your work naked!

It was a big leap for me when I understood that in the first draft anything goes because no one will see it and it’s not going anywhere.  You’re free to make mistakes, experiment, write huge chunks that will never be used, or introduce characters that make absolutely no sense later.  It doesn’t matter, because the editing stage will take care of all that.  Every time you edit or redraft your work you will see a huge improvement.

Everyone’s different of course, but to give you an example this is how my own drafting process goes:

  1. First draft – write longhand in a notebook, preferably using the same pen.  Lose the pen.  Panic.  The muse has gone!  Try writing with another pen.  Realise it’s going to be okay.  Maybe even better.  Phew.  Find the original pen.  Panic.
  2. Second draft – type up first draft on to the computer, editing as I go.  Correct the problems at the beginning caused by having a different middle and end to the ones I intended.
  3. Third draft – correct printed out second draft using a pen (any pen – the superstition has mysteriously gone).  Perform a massive facelift plus possibly invasive surgery (of the manuscript, not me).  Result can be a fifty percent improvement (of the manuscript, definitely not me).
  4. Fourth draft – print out third draft and put away in cupboard.  Agonising wait, preferably for a month.  Desired outcome: the ‘I don’t remember writing this!’ effect.  Edit again feeling like an older, wiser person.
  5. Final fifth draft – the paranoia edit.  Recheck on screen or paper, tidying, honing and searching for typos and cliches.  Realise I’ve used the word ‘look’ a million times on one page.  Wear out shift + f7 looking for alternatives. Gah!

Bing!  It’s ready.  Submit and prepare to repeat stages 3-5 if rejected.  Meanwhile buy new notebook and pen and start next project at stage 1.

Happy drafting!

You can still read Scott’s broadcast on Reedsy’s Facebook page to find out about the other common mistakes.  The question and answer session at the end was very useful too.

The big, huge, probing interview with Scott Pack

Scott PackIt is with pride that I bring to you my very first celebrity interview with the lovely Scott Pack from Harper Collins.  Not only is Scott Pack publisher of The Friday Project which sources online talent and channels it into books, but he is also responsible for leading Harper Collins into the digital age.  As we teeter on the brink of a digital revolution which could turn publishing on its head, what better person to talk to, to grill thoroughly and mine for information in an in-depth, revealing interview that lays bare the man behind the electrons?

I had exactly three minutes to do just that.*

So, in the one question I had time for, I asked this:

“Scott, is this the golden age of blogging?  And if so, is it a passing fad or the beginning of bigger and better things?”

To my surprise, Scott said he believed any ‘golden age’ of blogging was just over.  Blogging has reached its peak because we are now accessing online content in so many different ways.  Instead of sitting down at our computers and visiting a website or blog, we are using iPads and phones, and we often read parts of blogs through other people’s posts and pages as well as through Facebook and Twitter rather than actually visiting.  He believes that people are becoming less inclined to comment, too, although I’m not sure that’s true.  I think blog readers are more likely to comment as they become at ease with the idea of themselves as an online personality; in other words they are prepared to have a public face online rather than ‘lurking’.  (I’m sure the thousands of comments that appear below this post shortly will prove me right…)

And here the interview ended, but luckily I later attended Scott’s workshop (with Ian Skillicorn and Raymond Tallis) on innovation and I was able to gather some information on Scott’s views on epublishing.  A separate post to come on that, but for now I come to the end of my celebrity interview.  I hope you enjoyed my tough, probing questioning and I put to you the proposition that, in this twitter-centric world, the One Question Interview could well be the perfect size.  One is the new ten, brevity fans!

* Not because of my short attention span but because I was taking part in a three minute pitch session at Get Writing 2011.