I get a fair number of questions from readers and aspiring authors about the path a story takes before it lands into the hands of readers. I thought I’d take a moment and walk you through my process of novel development.
Note: every author is different, and many may take a different path.
My novels typically start their life as a blurb. A quick paragraph scribbled on the back of a receipt, or a spare piece of paper, or as a voice memo recorded in the middle of the night. However it comes, that is the beginning, and what I type out and tack to the wall above my desk. That paragraph is what will soon turn into my full-time obsession.
Next, I will write. My writing months usually require that I stop any leisure reading or television. If I behave, I can write a book in one month. If I allow distractions, it will stretch into two.
Eventually, I will type those two magical words: THE END. That is an awesome moment, one that I get to experience three to four times a year. I stretch, I beam, I make my husband obey my every command for the next 24 hours while we celebrate ‘Happy Completion Day’.
At this point, the process is half over and the book is about 60 days from publication.
I take a week off. Sleep about 13 hours a day. Catch up on sex and reminding my family that I love them. Then, go back to work.
Rewriting. I start from the beginning. Read through the novel and add comments at every single place that I don’t like. My first read-through normally contains over 200 comments. Then I start again, visiting every comment and making changes. Write. Delete. Write. Then my first round of rewriting is done.
Repeat. Second round of rewrites done.
Repeat. Third round of rewrites done.
Beta Time. I have four beta readers. I email them the manuscript and they pick it apart. Give me their initial reactions as they read through it. Give me their thoughts once they finish it. Let me ask them about a gazillion questions every few days. Positive comments are great but negative help the story grow.
Another round of rewrites. If you’re bored of reading about rewrites, imagine how sick I am at this point of doing them.
Edits. I send the manuscript off to my editor for an initial read-through and her thoughts/comments/suggestions.
Cover. Around this time I design a cover. I am a control freak, so I can’t physically stomach the ability to turn over a book and let a cover agency do their thing. I wish I could. It’d make my life a lot easier. But no. My evenings begin to fill with an obsessive search of every stock image website available. Some books I will do a photo shoot for. Some books I’ll reach out to specific photographers or models to request exclusive pics that aren’t being used. I want, whenever possible, a unique cover that no one else has. Once I find an image, and a title, I create a rough draft of the cover. Then I send it to my graphics designer and he takes my rough draft and makes it look better.
Another round of rewrites. Another round of editorial notes on content. Another round of rewrites. A final round of editorial notes on content.
The book is roughly finished at this stage. I send a final copy to her for a rigorous edit of spelling/grammar/punctuation.
I won’t share all of my secrets of promotion, but they basically involve me prostituting myself to every blogger I have ever met. There’s lots of begging involved. I plan giveaways, release day events, purchase ads on blogsites, facebook, goodreads, and anywhere else I can find. I start my social media pimpage. I design banners, posters. Tease my new baby all over the internet. Reserve dates for a blog tour. Send advance copies to my list of bloggers.
Once I get the spit-shined copy back from the editor, I send it to a formatter. He adds page numbers, table of contents, and fun page breaks. Adds copyright info, front and back information, and fixes any funky formatting. He makes it into an ebook, the final stage in my process.
Then… my baby is ready to go out into the world. My sweat and tears, my hopes and dreams. I upload it to the 5 major ebook retailers, cross my fingers and toes, send a prayer up to the big man, and hit ‘PUBLISH’.
And hope like hell that you guys love it half as much as I do.
QUESTIONS? I’m here for ya. Email me anytime or follow me on social media.
WANT TO BE A BETA READER? I’m sorry. I literally have a 10 person deep waiting list. But reach out to your other favorite authors. They might have openings.
A NEW AUTHOR? Check out my other posts on writing here.