When a reader asks: Where is the next book?
This question is an author’s favorite, as well as the hardest to answer sometimes. It’s the greatest compliment in the world to have a book or series that is so well loved that readers are itching to get their hands on the next book. By the end of release day for Flawless Surrender, I already had eight of these messages in my inbox. While that might not seem like a lot to some, that told me that eight different people bought and read the book in less than twenty-four hours and enjoyed it so much that they wanted more. Knowing that I brought them joy is my life’s blood! (FYI next best complaint is-“I wish it was longer!”)
I wish I could write a mistake free rough draft so that I could turn around and click upload the next morning and YAY you have the story! But that just isn’t how it works. We can’t just write the book and immediately upload it to ebook retailers or the reviewers would flay us alive about our editing. Oh yeah, that’s right. Each book goes through at least two rounds of edits for almost every author. (This isn’t the same for self-pub authors, some of them don’t use editors, or do their own, so take this as a generalization.)
So I wanted to give you the break down of how it works for ME once I begin writing the book. Other authors have variations of this process, so don’t take it as gospel, but this might explain why sometimes that series you love takes months to have updates.
Day 1 – This day is AWESOME. I love the day I get to start a brand new story. The characters are fresh and I don’t know them anymore than I know the guy that just moved in down the street. It’s time to introduce myself.
Day 2- The momentum will carry me for at least a couple of chapters before I back up and build my character profiles.
Day 4 or 5- This is usually when I create my character profiles. I now have a really good idea of who my characters are based on how the story is going. I have an excel spreadsheet system that I use for all of my books. This way I can keep details like, eye color, hair, height, weight, and even my photo inspiration all in one place. Believe me it’s easy to forget some of the minor details in the course of writing, so this is key to my series books staying error free.
Day 9-10- The buzz has started to wear off, and the story becomes a little more murky at this point. Usually about the 20k words mark for me. I have to step away from it to think about it for a bit and let the characters figure out where we’re going.
Day 14-15- 30k mark, and I’m over it. I’m in doubting Thomas mode, and nothing about this story is good anymore in my mind. I force myself to keep writing because I really, really, really want to scrap it, but my readers are waiting and these characters deserve a happy ending.
Day 20- I’ve hit 40-50k and found my stride again. I can see the end I just need to figure out how to help these characters over their hurdles. Or in some cases now is a great time to kill someone off just to give me momentum.
Day 25- 60-70k and the first draft is D.O.N.E. So we should be ready for release, right? NOT.
Day 26- This step is controversial because a lot of authors don’t use a Beta reader, for various reasons. I believe that Beta readers are integral to my stories. I have a team of four readers who take turns with the story. Some are better at picking out plot holes, some are better at remembering the details from various books in the series that I might have missed, and others are better at grammar and spelling. (I’m a comma whore, so they are constantly having to delete commas from my work. I think every pause in my head needs a comma I guess.)
Day 31-35- I ask the Beta’s to get the story notes back to me within a week, and usually that’s not a problem. Now it’s time to revise and rewrite. With four sets of notes in hand I sit down with headphones, and go through the book page by page, LISTENING to the story via text to speech. Yep, that’s right. I listen to it. You wouldn’t believe how different a story sounds when your writing it versus when you’re listening to it. This steps allows me to catch mistakes that auto correct might have helped me with as well as make sure that my characters dialogue is fluid and not too stiff.
Day 36- The book goes to the publisher! I’m happy with it, so it’s time to see what they say. Now, I work with two different publishers, and they both have their own versions of the same general system. They read and accept the submission, and the editor gets it. This usually takes anywhere from a few days to four weeks.
Day 60- The first round of edits is done and it’s ready to go to the second editor. Why two editors? Well, think of the second editor as quality control. The first editor is usually doing line edits, they are trying to perfect the system, but occasionally between their tweaking and mine, we’ve mucked the whole thing up. The second editor will hopefully catch that. Again this part can take a few days or it can take a couple of weeks.
Day 65- This is when the cover is being created too, as well as writing the book blurb, and excerpts being selected. All of that overlaps the editors working on the manuscript.
Day 80-The editors are content with it, and all of the details are planned, so now I get it back for a final approval. Once again, me and my headphones are on duty. However, this time, I like to lie down with my eyes closed and a notebook at hand for notes. While I listen to the story I jot notes for errors or mistakes. This gives me a chance to step outside of the “author” role and be a reader. I enjoy the story for the story, finally getting to feel the characters journey in one complete cycle. This is my LAST chance to fix errors before publication.
Day 84- Now that I’m happy, and the publisher is happy, it’s time to promote the book for release day! Mind you, the release has to be scheduled around all of the other authors the publisher works with, so it might slip in next week, or it might take several months to find a spot for it. The publishers try to be fair about releasing stories in the order they are received and finished, but they don’t want to release four paranormal werewolf ménage’s on the same day, or two sci-fi fantasy epics at once. This would hurt all of the releasing authors sales, so it’s a balancing act. There are some publisher’s who have their release schedule booked out for more than a year. Thankfully both of mine are faster than that!
Day 100- Assuming that there was a spot already fixed for release day, today is the BIG DAY, and you finally get your hands on the new story!!! YAY!
But wait…lets backtrack just a bit. While all of the work for THAT story is going on, I’m still working on other books too. I don’t stop writing, and usually I have 4-5 stories that I’m really working hard on all at once. I rotate them to keep my brain fresh and to keep from getting bored. Also some stories are longer than 70k, and some are shorter, so that can shift the release timeframe. AND, the biggest delay? I’m human. I have a family and responsibilities. From cub scouts, and baseball, to PTO and grocery shopping, I have the same responsibilities as any other stay at home mom, with the caviot of trying to write with a four year old at my elbow. Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely blessed to be able to write and work from home, but sometimes home and family have to take precedence. This means the 100 day book process is slowed down more. So that story you asked for in January, probably won’t make it to you until September, but not because I’m not diligently working on getting it out to you.
So there’s the gist of it. I hope that peek into the process helped make it easier to wait just a teensy bit longer to get your hands on the next Gray Pack book, or Apache Crossing story, because I promise you, I’m still hard at work on all of them, plus many many more!
As always, don’t forget to Live, Laugh, and Love like today is your only chance!~Lori
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