Finishing a book is a huge deal, and this post in no way is meant to dissuade anyone from writing one. As a matter of fact, I believe everyone has a story to tell and should do so, if for no other reason to allow others to get to know a side of you that perhaps they never get to. But today, I wanted to share just what happens to a book, after the book is written, at least from my experience. I feel that this will be particularly helpful for those working on their first novel, or any written piece for that matter, and who are planning on self-publishing. If I had known the things then that I know now, it would have saved me a ton of time. You know, hindsight and all. This post will also explain to those who are anxiously awaiting the next book in the series, who may be wondering why the heck is it taking so long!?! Well, because…
- Editing – Wow! Where to start! So during the writing process, I have Critique Partners (CPs) who help me mold the story along the way. We catch a lot of plot holes, structure issues, and typos throughout that process, and I have to say I would be lost without my Muse Crew! After the piece is complete is when the real fun begins! I generally have one of my CPs do a full read through, in which they provide last-minute comments for the final draft. I then schedule with my editor (sometimes a month in advance or more) to do the first read through. The manuscript comes back to me and I look through her comments, which may include changes that require a bit of time to complete. Maybe a scene doesn’t work right or is unnecessary, maybe removing it will alter the pages that follow. After sobbing and drinking an undisclosed amount of beer, I complete a second draft which I send to her again for more comments. At this point, it could be a month or two before I am able to schedule with her again. She does another read through, I wash, rinse, repeat, and I tighten the last of the story until a tingle goes up my spine. I don’t know how else to explain it, except that I know in my heart it is done. It is the best that it can be at that moment, for my current skill level. I schedule one more time for proof-reading, which she does generally in the same turn around as the other edits. This entire process, depending on how much time you have to write and edit, can take a few months, so make sure you give yourself some time!
- Images – Are a whole other ball of wax! While I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, and the designer I use has been with me from the beginning, it has taken us a while to get this down to a science. I generally let him know I am getting close to needing him when I am done with the first draft. I allow myself about a 6-month launch schedule, and he lets me know when he will need the deliverables we decide on. Generally, I need to get him the blurb for the back of the book (which goes through the same editing process btw), my ideas for the cover as well as quotes which I have him work into marketing slides. He also provides files for things such as bookmarks. We are in constant contact via email and phone, and for the piece of the work that he does, we can interact for several months prior to launch.
- Formatting – The formatting is something that I do myself for the digital copies and I hire out for the print. The same designer that does my cover, does my inner pages and provides a file that I can upload to the vendor (Amazon, Kobo, etc.). When I draft my manuscript I am careful to use styles in Word, so that by the time I am done, I have a pretty clean copy with all of the proper indents, chapter breaks, and headings in place. Generally, the inside pages for the print come a month or two after I have already had the cover images and marketing slides to play around with. That is important since you want to start marketing prior to your launch. I once heard that it takes someone seeing something at least 7 times before they take action on checking it out or making a purchase, which is why you want to have enough time to get it out there without overwhelming your following.
- Marketing – So, in between finalizing the manuscript with my editor, and getting things rolling with my book designer, I am actively promoting a book that isn’t complete. It is weird, and it is stressful, but it is necessary! The best advice I can give you is set a deadline for yourself and stick with it! Start out small, maybe deadlines with blog posts, or writing 500 words, but work it into your mindset! Through that process, you start to understand what you can count on yourself for. If you are a procrastinator like me, you know that life can get in the way. What you also know, when you go through the deadline process with yourself, is that you can produce deliverables by a chosen date if you set your mind to it! This practice will prepare you for when you have more than one book out there and you are trying to self-promote in between launches and writing the next one. There will be people that you network with that may ask for a guest post, or perhaps to be included in a book bundle, and you have to know, before saying yes, that you are able to juggle the demands. I am active on social media, but I do allow the scheduling capabilities of Word Press and Buffer to help me out. Some of my posts are scheduled a month out, there is just no better way to do it until my clone is ready 🙂
- Writing – In the midst of the finalization of the current work-in-progress, there are other stories itching to be told. Sometimes, they go on the back burner, but sometimes I just need to squeeze them into my schedule, which slows up the launch cycle. It’s totally okay, it is all about balance! Besides, when you reverse engineer your time back from your desired launch date, you have put in the time for shit going wrong, or getting sick, or even going out for a glass of wine with your friends. It’s called life, so don’t stop living it for the sake of your writing. Make sure you always have fresh experiences to draw from and fill the well! You and your writing will thank me.
- Digital – Once the files are done and ready for uploading, each vendor has a different set of criteria and issues with their interface. I need to give myself enough time to 1) Upload the file, and wait. 2) Order the proof, and wait. 3) Realize changes need to be made, rinse and repeat. If you don’t allow yourself at least a month to get the bugs sorted out, you will be a major stress ball! Trust me, I know! This is especially true when you are relying on others to help with some of the pieces of your project, since they also may have shit going wrong, or are getting sick, or hell even going out for a glass of wine with their friends. Point is, make sure you give yourself a buffer for your launch date because once you commit, you will have peeps expecting you to come through! Digital copies are a little easier to control as far as launch, and most vendors accept Word doc or docx files. Remember the styles I mentioned earlier? Really important in this case! A tip I learned early on was not to do full justification on an ebook since the devices allow for the reader to change the size in the text. You don’t want your text “locked” in place. Justify to the left and let the rest of the text fall where it may. The technology will worry about your hyphens.
- Launch – So, by now I have read my book over 13 times, I am ready to throttle the antagonist who isn’t playing nice and is posting all over Facebook. I am also so tired of putting my writing on hold that I could scream! With that being said, this is the time I am spending writing blog posts, social media posts and networking with fellow writers I have found in my genre. So, if you ask me about my book and I seem stressed, it’s because I am freaking over the final digital file getting to Amazon on time, the guest post I promised that I still need to draft, and the dirty dishes in my sink that have been there much too long. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited that you are excited, and I am excited too, but I am also drained. Creativity can take a lot out of you, and so don’t be surprised if after a launch you don’t hear from me for a while. It is generally when I fold into myself and rest, concentrating mainly on input and not a lot of output. Remember what I said about living life? Yeah, that is definitely happening around this time. I try to fit in writing conferences, listen to podcasts, and try my hand at new techniques in writing, knowing full well that soon the cycle will start all over again and I will once again become a hermit in my writing cave.
If you want to learn more about sending my WIP to my Editor, you can check out a prior blog post here. To learn more about sending my WIP to my Designer, check out this post. For more about Critique Partners, you can check out this post.
This stuff takes time. So don’t be hard on yourself, just make sure that whatever amount of time you feel you might need, that you double it. At least until you really get to know yourself and how you work. Use your phone, get a planner, anything to help you organize your time. Because let’s face it, having a book baby takes a hella long time, and just like a real one (baby that is), the work isn’t over once it’s out in the world! So, manage the stress and give yourself all the time you will need to reach your goals, and when you finally finish your book, do something amazing for yourself! You deserve it!
Playing with Fire release date May 25, 2018!
Happy Writing! XOXO