On Wednesday, April 26, I finished the latest work-in-progress, a fantasy romance (more fantasy than romance with this one) clocking in at 93,561 words. This manuscript took me four months to draft.

I do mean “draft.” For those new to the whole publishing thing, writing the story is the easy part. It’s fun part. After the writer vomits the rough draft onto paper or the document file, editing begins. There’s a saying: The first draft is for the author; the second draft is for the editor.

After taking a deep breath and hoisting an adult beverage in celebration of finishing that particular brain dump, it’s time for a brief rest to let the mind recharge. Then comes the first round of editing: self-editing, to be precise. Like some authors, I do tend to edit as I write, so writing the first draft isn’t necessarily as onerous as it might otherwise be, but it does make the drafting process longer.

Therefore, beginning soon after finishing the rough draft, I read through the manuscript and run it through grammar checking software. I correct the errors I see—by no means all of them—and note the glaring plot holes I left behind. When I finish that, I have a second draft. Next, I address the plot holes and other areas that require substantial and substantive revision and/or rewriting. When I finish that, I have a third draft. Then comes a final review of the third draft to catch those small glitches and fix them. Ergo, I have a fourth draft.

The editor gets the fourth draft.

It’s a lot of work and it’s the process I advise authors use to ensure their editors receive content that’s not raw and unfinished. Giving your editor reasonbly polished work has two benefits:

  1. You get better value from your editor who can focus on more substantive issues than correcting typos and grammar errors.
  2. Your manuscript requires fewer rounds of professional editing, therefore costing the author less money.

Here’s another thing authors need to remember: editing and promotion take time. This requires knowing how to set reasonable deadlines.

  • Book promotion launches around 30 to 45 days before the book’s release date.
  • The marketing team needs 30 days to put together a marketing strategy. The front cover design is needed for marketing.
  • Cover design takes at least a week, if not two weeks. Full cover (front, spine, back) design cannot be completed until the book has been formatted.
  • Book formatting takes at least a week, if not longer.
  • Schedule at least a month for editing and proofreading.  (This means the author must work promptly and quickly.)

The upshot, the author has to have a file ready for the editor at least two months before the book launches. More time is better.

So, going by my own countdown, I have actually not budgeted sufficient time for the release of Champion of the Twin Moons. This may require the release date, currently set for June 25 (my 35th wedding anniversary) to be pushed back to mid-July.

We’ll see how fast we can get things done.

While I’m waiting for the editor to work her magic, I’ll get started on the next story with a goal of releasing it at the end of October.

#writinglife #author #hollybargo