“When’s your next book coming out?”
I love this question. And I hate this question.
I love it, because it means my previous book did its job of pulling that reader into my world (MUWHAHA!) filled with detailed characters and twisty-turney plots. I hate this question, because I can usually only offer the vaguest of answers.
Some authors are startingly good at scheduling their book writing, editing, and release process. They can say months in advance exactly when the public can get their greedy little hands on that author’s novel.
Me? Not so much. My writing process is not serene and consistent. It is messy, frustrating, thrilling, and unpredictable. Some authors I know are hella’ good at writing in-depth outlines and following those outlines to a tee.
I outline, too. Really, I do, but my characters don’t always feel like staying on the paths I lay out for them. An outline is just a starting point, and as I dive into a crafting the novel, often the story veers in directions I never imagined as I was cheerfully typing up the outline, thinking, Yep, this is solid as can be.
As a result, I often have no idea how long a book will be, which can stretch the writing days. My most recent book, How to Become a Henchman, weighed in at a respectable 78,000 words. My second book in the series, How to Defeat a Hero, currently bends the scales at almost 95,000 words! (Not respectable at all.)
I admire (cough… envy) authors who can breeze right through that first edit of their rough draft. That happens sometimes to me… you know, once. Most of the time, though, the first draft of a novel is really just a suggestion. It’s like half a shape of the thing it’s meant to be, and it’s up to me to take the chisel (okay, chainsaw) and carve out its true form. This takes tons of mental sweat and muscle and sometimes very real tears.
The first draft of How to Defeat a Hero was so rough, (sorry, book, I love you!) that I actually had to do a second edit just to stitch my darling little Frankenstein monster back together again. And then it was time to throw it to the hounds.
I mean, my sweet, understanding beta readers.
If my beta readers were terrible, unhelpful people, they would tell me my book was great and I would smile and delightfully toss the manuscript into the Amazon Kindle store where it would slowly sink into the murky depths of forgotten books.
My beta readers really are awesome people. They don’t pull their punches. They tell me when my characters suck, when my plot is slower than a one-winged duck trying to fly against a hurricane, and when there are plot holes the size of a moon crater in the story.
That means more edits. More time.
So, add it all together, and it’s nearly impossible to predict when my book will be polished and ready until I’m pretty much done with the last word of the last round of edits.
This situation makes it frustrating for me to try to plan my book launch, and I know it drives some of my readers batty. (Sorry, readers, I love you!)
But—and here’s the important thing—I wouldn’t have it any other way. My timeline is so whacky because I won’t publish a book until I’m sure it’s the best I could make it, until I know that I can give you a story that I’m proud of. You know it’s worth the wait for Grandma’s famous, handmade lasagna even if you’re practically starving.
This is me making my lasagna. Slow. Haphazard. But filled with love.
Thanks for waiting!