Anyone who has tried their hand at writing the 'next great bestseller' can tell you that crafting a novel isn't easy. But for those of us who feel compelled to write, the challenge is unavoidable: It's something we have to do. And doing it affects everyone around us, for better or for worse.
If you read much, you will have noticed that the acknowledgement section of most books ends with heartfelt thanks to the author's immediate family for putting up with the writing process. There's a reason for that! Now, most of us writers manage not to go psychotic during the creation process, and few of us are driven to drink by the need to fill in that next plot point, but writing even a work of non-fiction can be quite stressful. And fiction - well, that requires building an entire world, even if it's based on the one we're already familiar with. There's the research, and the writing, and the editing, and for most of us there's also the self-doubt, the concern that it's not good enough or too short or too long or too topical...the list never ends. (Yes, writers are very human in this way.)
Fortunately, most of us have support networks of wonderful people who help us out along the way. My husband and daughter have long been willing to listen to my ideas, read my drafts, and generally encourage my lust for writing. Then there are the beta readers. These are the awesome folks who read the mostly-finished work and offer constructive criticism. That's harder than you might think. There's far more to beta reading than just 'I liked the book' or 'I didn't like it.' From my beta readers I've received helpful comments about everything from technical details to continuity errors to ways to add another plot twist. Authors rely on beta readers for their honesty and their insight, and we do our best not to cringe when they point out what we've done poorly or wrong. Our finished works wouldn't be nearly as good without this kind of help.
Once the book is done, the focus shifts to publishing it. That's where another collection of helpful people come in: agents, editors, the folks at your publishing house. There are times when it seems like we're putting up with each other, since the publishing process can be both tedious and stressful at the same time, but there's a reason authors include these folks in their acknowledgments: We couldn't make it without them. They have insights and experience that we don't, and we recognize that.
Many of us end up publishing our own books through the many venues that are available these days - Smashwords, Kindle, Createspace, Lulu, and so on. But even a self-published author needs a good editor, an imaginative cover artist, and so on. The old-timey image of the cranky author, all alone at the typewriter with a cigarette dangling from pursed lips, just doesn't match the reality.
So as I announce that my novel Jaguar Sky is finally available in paperback as well as e-book format, I need to acknowledge all the people who helped me out along the way: my family who put up with me asking them to read stuff over and over, the professionals who patiently answered my questions about archaeology and the ancient Maya, and the beta readers who gave me helpful feedback.
And the most important of all: my readers. These are the people we writers truly can't do without, and I, for one, am truly grateful for every single person who picks up one of my books and reads it. You're the reason I write. Thank you.