It’s a date

It’s not firm enough to announce yet, but I’ve set a date for the release of my next novel. Yay!!!

This sounds very exciting – and it is! But there’s a lot of work to do before publication. In addition to my part I’m hiring a cover designer and an editor, so until I get all three of our schedules coordinated I can’t be certain that my arbitrarily selected date is actually doable. But that’s okay – my deadline for completing the manuscript will stay the same, and that’s the most important part.

Last spring I intentionally took a job where I felt I’d be able to leave at the end of the day and not take it home with me, either literally or mentally. Happily, this was indeed the case! I tend to gravitate toward positions where I put a lot of myself into my work, which I love doing, but I would often come home with little energy left over for writing. It was a big transition, in more ways than I realized at first, but now I have a job I enjoy, and when I get home I’m ready to play with the dogs and then write.

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to finish – and publish – one of my in progress novels. I put together a schedule and included everything from writing outlines for short stories to engaging a cover designer to releasing a novel. I now have a list of specific milestones for publishing a book, and I’ll tweak them as I go through the process. My goal is to be more organized and efficient than I was with my last two books – not because you have to be super organized to self-publish, but because I want to have multiple projects in different stages in the queue, and the smoother my process is, the easier it will be to follow – and I’ll have more time to focus on writing, which is of course the part I most enjoy.

Here’s a list of the milestones I have set right now. Note that they’re not in order – some things can happen simultaneously, like I could get a completed cover design, then finish the manuscript and send it to the editor. (In that case the cover for the paperback would need to be tweaked slightly because the width of the spine varies based on the page count of the finished book.)

  • Outline complete
  • First draft complete
  • Final draft complete
  • Send to editor
  • Get back from editor
  • Really final draft complete
  • Title finalized
  • Engage cover designer
  • Initial cover design complete
  • Final cover design complete
  • Final copy edits complete
  • Print book formatting complete
  • eBook formatting complete
  • Paperback proof deemed good
  • Release!

Obviously there are other stages that I’m not listing here – I tried to focus on end dates. For example, somewhere between the first and final drafts I’d run the manuscript past my critique group and any beta readers, and there could be anywhere from 1-1,000 drafts before the final draft. (Let’s hope it’s not 1,000…) Ditto for editing – often there’s a bit of back and forth there.

While my list may not be exhaustive, nor completely accurate, it is definitely helpful in terms of scheduling. On top of that, making a plan to publish is one thing, but hiring people to do the work is another because that means I’ve made a commitment to them and to their schedules. That’s very motivating, especially since I’m doing all of this on the side and have a full-time job.

In thinking through all of this I decided to switch my initially planned publication order. The novel I have been working on is going well, but there are a few things I need to resolve in the middle of the book. That’s totally doable, but it will take a bit of work – and therefore more time. So I decided to switch things around and am going to publish the selkie novel first because it’s much further along. Since I’ve been dabbling in outlining, I decided my first step would be to create a full outline for the novel – including outlining chapters that I think are solid and complete. Initially I thought this would be overkill, but decided to give it a whirl just to be thorough. To my surprise, the outline has already proven to be helpful with finding a few small holes in the ‘solid’ chapters. More details on that in another blog post. 🙂

Jasper working with an 'outline' on angled weave pole entrances (hence the gates on the poles)
Jasper working with an ‘outline’ on angled weave pole entrances (hence the gates on the poles)

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