The Tip of the Writing Iceberg
I’ve had this revelation a few times now, but this year it’s never been more true. I’m in a particularly productive place these last few months, having published four books so far this year and having two more in the process. Writing definitely takes up the majority of my time for each project, but keep in mind that majority only means it’s a greater percentage than any of the other slices in the pie.
The things I never thought or knew about getting into writing was all of the other work involved. Writing isn’t just a fire-and-forget process. Sure, I’ve got some talented people that help out between editing and cover art, but each book is my baby. I’m responsible for what the world sees, and if I want to be successful, I have to make certain that each one is as good as I can make it. I haven’t had this talk with any other writers, but I’d be astonished if they didn’t feel similarly – or at least the successful ones.
I figure writing takes about 60% of the time a book’s being worked on. 30% for editing and cover art (typically simultaneous), then the remaining 10% for final editing and releasing. And that doesn’t cover the other aspects of being a successful writer…
So let’s take an example: I finished Voidhawk – The White Lady earlier this year. I believe it took me about 4 weeks to write it. Yes, it’s a full length novel. I’ve been throwing down anywhere from 2k to 8k words a day when I write. It spent another couple of weeks with an editor and a couple of weeks with the cover artist. After I received the edited version back I had to go through it again, make the corrections, and do my own final review. No matter how good an editor is, they miss something. Maybe they miss an auto-correction MS Word did or maybe they attributed some awkward wording to the writer’s style. In either case, I’ve never once found a fully edited manuscript that didn’t need another touch up. Heck, I still find mistakes when I go back to do some continuity checking on books (and yes, I fix and upload those errors immediately).
So with The White Lady I spent 4 weeks writing, then another couple of weeks waiting, then another week editing. That was a very streamlined process. I’ve got some great people working with me who can really turn things around. Major kudos to them. But here’s one of the reasons why: I pay them. I pay them and I pay them on time, every time. The faster they work, the more work they get and the more money they make. People who work for free can do a good job, but the odds are they aren’t dedicating the kind of attention to it that I want. This is a professional product, shouldn’t the people working on it be professional too?
After The White Lady I worked on Devil’s Icebox, the long awaited sequel to my paranormal novel, Dark Earth. That one rolled off my fingers too, but it’s looking at about 4 weeks for editing and cover art. Then another week or so for me to go through it again. My hope is to release it in mid to late April. But while it’s being edited I’ve been busy…
Squatter’s Rights, part 5 in Vitalis, my futuristic sci-fi series, was my fastest book yet. Granted, my Vitalis books are novellas rather than full length novels, but it still only took me 5 or 6 days to write it. Nevertheless, it’s in an editors hands waiting for the red pen of love. Valerie McCarty, the editor for my Vitalis books, confirmed that she might even get it done this week. I’m not sure the cover art can happen that quickly! I’d love to launch Squatter’s Rights in early April, but we’ll see how things go.
What’s next? It was supposed to be the third book in my Wanted series. I’ve got a lot of ideas for it, but I haven’t found the right one to really pull me in and make it worth reading. Oh sure, I could write something and it would be entertaining with those characters, but that’s not good enough. Wanted and Ice Princess were really good books and I won’t settle for anything less than top shelf material for the third book.
Instead I started up something new last night. It’s a new series called Lost Treasures that takes place in my Dark Earth setting. Lost Treasures is approximately 10 years after Dark Earth, but the relationship to the other books (Dark Earth series or The Lost Girls series) will be minimal. I’m living out my childhood fascination with Indiana Jones in this one and so far, I’m expecting the book to be a lot of fun! All told, I expect this one to take 4 – 6 weeks to write, then the editing process. My Dark Earth setting editor might not be able to get to until July, but she’s the best and worth the wait.
Those other aspects of being a successful writer I mentioned? That’s the time spent making modifications to previously published books (edits, links, etc.), setting up marketing / advertising / promotions, blogging, and working with peers to make good things happen. It usually doesn’t cost all that much in dollars, but the cost in time can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re crazy enough to release multiple books in a short time frame like I did this year! Special thanks to my wife for putting up with the chaos I’ve put us all through getting these things out there. She’s an amazing women and no, she doesn’t have any sisters.
To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.