Writing Cycle & Release Plans

I am trying to get this book done this month.

And by done, I mean the first draft completed. Finishing at the end of May would put me at 9 weeks to write a full historical fantasy novel. At this point, I am targeting a finished length of about 80,000 words which feels right for this story. It’s possible that it might go longer, but not by much. I won’t have a total of hours until the end of the book/end of May and that may affect the final plan here, but I thought I would lay out what I have so far.

The Series

I planned this book to kick off a seven book series. For the direction I want to go, it just makes sense. I know I want to self-publish, but I don’t want to lose much visibility, so I am thinking of holding book one back until book three is almost ready to go. That way I can release books 1, 2, and 3 in quick succession. If I time it right I might be able to get book 4 and part of book 5 written in that time, based on how long it has taken me to do book 1. If I can then get 6 and 7 done I could potentially have a completed series in 18-24 months.

This is the part of the plan that is most in flux because there are so many life factors that have to be considered when planning something like this long term. For sure I want to publish the first 3 books pretty quickly. The rest is up in the air at the moment.

Writing Cycle

This is a super aggressive writing plan to get all three books drafted and somewhat edited by the end of 2016.

Book one first draft due May 31, 2016.
Book two working outline due June 3, 2016.

Book one first edit and notes due June 10, 2016.
Book two first draft due August 31, 2016.

Book one second draft due September 16, 2016. Send to editor.
Book two first edit and notes due September 30, 2016.

Book three working outline due October 7, 2016.
Book three first draft due December 16, 2016.

Publishing Cycle

This is more up in the air. I’ve never sent a book to an editor or beta readers or anything, so I really don’t know how long or how many passes, etc. But I want to publish book one in January 2017 at the latest, probably November 2016 at the earliest.

That would put book two published between December and February, and book three published between January and March.

I know those are broad ranges, but until I get a little experience under my belt (and see if I can even keep up with my aggressive writing schedule) ) I just don’t know. These are penciled in dates that don’t even take into account getting covers, blurbs, etc done.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad to have a plan in writing. Heck, I’m glad to have a plan period. Of course, I’ll update every step of the way. And hey, if anyone out there has any experience in this game and wants to let me know if this looks good/doable/sane I’d love to hear it.

Tsunami of Crap

I was listening to a podcast last week when I heard this particular phrase (not sure which podcast, but probably Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing), a tsunami of crap. They were talking about when Amazon opened wide the vaunted doors of publishing allowing just anyone to make their writing available to the masses unleashing the said tsunami.

Which immediately led me to wonder if my book would eventually join not the shining stars of the self-published, but the tsunami of crap.

I’ve spent the last few days mulling that over.

The first book I wrote was really, really bad. No plot. Bad characters. It was definitely crap.

The second book I wrote was slightly better. A whisper of a plot and the characters had actual goals, so there was that.

The third book was okay but had a lot of major problems. The plot was shaky, but the characters were better. Editing it was going to be a nightmare though since it changed directions about 6 times during the course of writing it.

This is actually my fourth book, the one that I am wrapping up now. I have officially crossed the threshold that all writers are familiar with – you’re getting near finishing and you start to doubt. You doubt your abilities, your experience, everything. The inner editor is screaming about how sucky your book is and it would be better to chuck the whole thing and be done and never release this steaming pile of filth into the world.

It gets harder and harder to sit down every day and write, because why? Why should you put any more effort into a book that’s going to suck anyway?

Every time I doubt, every time I think about closing my laptop before I reach the goal, I look up at the little deadline post-it that is stuck to the wall above my desk. I gave myself a deadline.

But the thing is, I’ve been here before! I’ve given myself deadlines before and just blown past them with an avalanche of excuses. So why should this be any different?

Because this time I recognize them for what they are: excuses.

So what if the first draft sucks? They all do! That’s what editing and editors are for! And deep down, I know that despite all the flaws and weaknesses in this particular draft, it’s the strongest book I’ve ever written.

So what if it’s full of grammar errors and typos? They all are. That’s what editing and editors are for!

So what if nobody ever buys the book? You got the practice. You added to the 10,000 hours required to become an expert. You learned something. If nothing else you learned you could do this.

So what if somebody buys the book? Maybe they’ll actually like it. Maybe they’ll want more. Even if they don’t you still win! You wrote a freaking book!

That’s what it boils down to, you know. Fear of failure.

The fear of joining the tsunami of crap is just fear of failure in disguise. I’ve let fear of failure paralyze me before. I see the signs.

The question is, can I outrun it this time?

Stress & Writing

I mentioned last week that my daughter wrecked her car. It wasn’t bad in that it was a single car, new driver mistake kind of a wreck in which nobody was injured in any way at all, but it was bad because it led to over $5,000 worth of damage to her car.

This isn’t a parenting blog, but I hope you can indulge me for a minute because parenting is a big part of my life.

When the kids were little and my life revolved around mostly keeping them alive I remember thinking “it will be so much easier when they’re older.” All of you more experienced parents can stop cackling now.

While it is easier in the sense that they can get their own meals, perform self-care, and generally don’t need my hovering presence 24/7 it is infinitely harder now than it was when they were tiny. They suddenly have places to go and things to do that require we leave the house. And sometimes it means that my 16yo has to drive.

It’s scary. There’s so much more on the line when your kid gets behind the wheel of a car.

The aftermath of the wreck caused quite a bit of stress for me, for my husband, and for my daughter. Hours on the phone with the shop, the insurance, the adjuster, and each other. Hours in the car shuttling kids around, since the usual plan of having my oldest to help with that flew out the window.

There were a few days where the word count dropped precipitously. Where I had been logging almost 3,000 words a day, I suddenly dropped off to a few hundred. I just couldn’t get into a headspace that would allow me to write. I felt distracted and disconnected. It wasn’t good.

I felt like I lost a lot of ground in those days. I am slowly working my word count back up, but I am not yet back to where I was. Which is frustrating and I am trying not to pressure myself too much or stress myself out lest this become some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lesson learned: Sometimes you have to write through the stress of outside events. Sometimes you have to accept that you’ll have some low word count days.

For some positive news, I just crossed the threshold of being 2/3 of the way done with this book. It is looking like a strong possibility that the book will be first draft finished at the end of May. So YAY!

Writing Goals Report | April 2016

Back on April 1, I announced that my Camp NaNoWriMo goal was to write 30,000 words in the month of April. April was also the first full month that I tracked my writing and can produce some metrics around production.

Over 30 days, I wrote for 25.05 hours and produced 30,445 words. That’s 1,215 words per hour. Not too shabby, I think, especially if you go back and compare to my output from just since August 2015. My goal that month was just shy of 7,000 words. For the month. And I still only wrote just over 14,000 words.

The reality is that I write much faster with a plan in place. This is version 3.0 of this book, and the first time that I actually created a plot outline. Versions 1.0 and 2.0 were hot messes and it took 4 times as long to write. I will stand by this, but it was because even though I had a vague idea of a start and finish, I had no idea how to get from point A to point B. That alone caused way to much wandering around in the dark looking for the path and created books that weren’t even editable, much less publishable.

If you’re reading this, and you’re just starting out, please, please, please, don’t give up hope. It’s only after nearly three years and almost 1,000,000 words that I am even close to producing something that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to publish.

The bonus is that I feel like my stamina is increasing too, though that is not evident in my tracking. After my daughter’s wreck, with her car in the shop I have been back to Mom’s Taxi Service, which severely cut into writing time. I am hoping that after she gets her car back and we settle into our routine again I can prove what I feel in the numbers.