21 August 2011

How Long

Say, here's a topic for discussion - what's your rate of production? Not just wordcount, but the whole process. How long does it take for you to get from typing 'Chapter 1' to hitting the send button on the Smashwords/Amazon/whatever page? And what stages take the shortest and longest with you? -- Dave
This is a little like asking how long is a piece of string.  (I swear, I could answer every question put to me with "it depends".)

The main "depends" in writing is what else I'm doing.  I have a full-time job.  I like to play computer games.  Very occasionally gardens, and movies and so forth interfere (Cowboys and Aliens isn't bad, but isn't brilliant either - though there is one thing, one tiny nuanced thing, which was remarkably effective).  It also depends on how determined I am to get things done - when I'm writing at home, if I'm serious I'll turn the TV off and listen to music because it's less distracting.

The quickest I ever wrote a first draft was in about three months.  [Or, I guess you could count the Touchstone trilogy, which I wrote in a single year - 350,000 words.  The editing of that took almost as long again.]  I do a whole bunch of end to end editing runs after I'm finished, but first draft is almost always the longest part, especially since I edit as I go along.  I also try to put the book away after the first draft is done and completely forget it for a few months, because you need the distance to look at it with any measure of perspective.

When I'm writing, or thinking about some cool thing to write, I will get up and pace back and forth - very silly.

I don't expect to have The Pyramids of London finished in first draft until late next year (and that only if I exercise some level of discipline with it) because I have so many other things I'm editing.  I've written about 2000 words this weekend and am pressing on for a bit because I really want to write the scene with the hand.  [When the book is done and you're reading it, you will remember me mentioning the scene with the hand.  And then you will say, OMG, the scene with the hand!  My version of vampires is amusing me immensely - and Egyptian mythology seems just made for vampiric lore.]  The speed with which I write depends on what's being written.  Action is fairly easy and quick for me (and hopefully there'll be a lot of action in TPoL!), while what I consider "transitive passages" - the less fun stuff involving polite conversation - can take much longer because I sit there figuring out how to say it just so.

All the formatting and such for publication doesn't take more than a few days.


  1. New reader, I've come to your books this summer (through your posts at KB mostly). I now have started to read through your two series, but their next/last books are missing.
    Do you have any approximate time for release for them ?

  2. Hi SFReader :) "Voice of the Lost" will be out soon (I'm doing the near-to-final edit and then will pass it one last time through betas). I'm hoping end of September.

    "Caszandra" will be next up and if "Voice" is out on time then "Caszandra" will be a December release (it's the longest of those three books and is going to require more balancing). If I get too bogged down, it might slip to January, but I'm trying not to let it.

    And thanks for commenting! Sometimes I can get caught up looking at the people selling huge amounts and start to think I'm incredibly unsuccessful, and it's a big deal for me when I find a reader who has clicked with my work. Makes my day. :)

  3. I definetely "clicked" with your books, and will gladly buy the follow-ups and subsequent books.

    At the same time, with two "open" series and no complete one yet, I think you may be putting off potential customers, some of them already not accustomed to buy a book in an unfinished series.
    More simply put,they may be afraid to invest time in series that they're unsure of seeing closed. Since you have 2 such, they'll feel at least twice as uncertain...

  4. Fortunately something which will be fixed in the next few months. Both books are written - I just need them at a standard I'm willing to publish.

  5. Yep, I understand it well, but it's not "clear" to customers who check your work at Amazon/Smashwords etc.

  6. Thanks. Yeah, I get the "it depends" answer, which is more or less the same one I would give if it were put to me. But 350,000 words in a year - unedited or otherwise - is a pretty magnificent achievement, so nice work!

    Scene with the hand - gotcha. Will watch out for it when -

    Come to think of it, no I won't. By the end of next year I will have completely forgotten this conversation and I will be pleasantly surprised to see you've got a new novel out :)

  7. 'All the formatting and such for publication doesn't take more than a few days.'

    Who does your formatting?

  8. I format myself. I use MS Word in my day job and (particularly for Smashwords) ebooks are a thousand times easier to produce if you understand Word.

    I'm not perfect at it yet (I only recently figured out how to use Calibre to get those little chapter stops on the Kindle editions), but I'm relatively pleased with the product.

    It would be quicker still except I start out with the trade paperback version, with drop caps and other bits of fanciness which I don't use in the ebook versions and then I remove those when moving on to the ebook version.


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