This week, I completed (hopefully) the final stages of my latest book, House of Birds and Beasts. But what does that really mean? I see every day on Facebook authors excited to have finished writing a book. It's a big deal! And here's why:
1. Last July, I started jotting down ideas related to a new project. I knew I wanted it to do with magic, twelve Houses, a slave/maji system. I started creating characters and drawing world maps, just putting my ideas onto paper for fear of losing them.
2. In August, I started writing. I completed the first four chapters in a straight shot, writing eight hours a day, six days a week, plus weekends and evenings when my kids were in bed or my husband was at work.
3. In September, I started critique swapping with a narrow group of authors. There were about five or six of us, posting a chapter one at a time and critiquing each other. After each critique, I modified and made changes, getting each chapter as clean as possible before moving on to write the next. I kept going until finished the first twenty-three chapters in December.
4. In December, I started my first rewrite. At this point, it had become clear that my current trajectory wasn't working. I knew I needed to get on the right path before continuing (otherwise I would have had a whole book to fix rather than half). Cue four weeks of cutting, saving, pasting, rewriting, critiquing, editing--on repeat.
5. In early February, I was ready to continue writing. I wrote the last ten chapters, posting for my critique group and critiquing their pieces each week until mid-March.
6. In late March, I started the first round of edits. I went through my 120k-word book with a fine-toothed comb, cutting out unnecessary words, improving descriptions of setting and character. I used feedback from beta readers, critique group, and market research to figure out worked and what didn't.
Finally, I put together a query letter, had it critiqued mercilessly, and sent out queries.
7. When the first round of queries was met with resounding silence, I started a second editing process, cutting 9k of non-critical scenes, extraneous words, redundant exposition, and unnecessary plotlines. This process took me to the end of May.
Time spent writing: 10 months
Hours spent writing: 1,600
Words written: 150k
Words removed: 30k
Final word count: 111k
I write this not as a sob story or a brag, but to show just how much time and effort and work goes into writing a book. Those worlds and ideas and characters don't write themselves, and authors give a piece of themselves to everything they write. It's all for you! <3