When you’re writing for a publisher, you live under a series of deadlines. Back when I was publishing short fiction, I didn’t really understand this. I remember seeing Short Fiction Writers get their book contract, and then their short fiction involvement just faded away.
On the other side of the fence now, I -really- understand that. When I’m working toward a book deadline, I’m plowing hours daily into that one book. Any time I take away from it makes me feel guilty. I should be writing! I should be researching!
Now, every writer knows that you can’t spend all your time on the WIP. You have to plan not to, in fact. Because there are two big things that will eat away at that time, things that you MUST do: edits and promotion.
Usually while you are working on Book X, you will get edit requests from your editor for Book (X – 1). So you set aside X and mentally turn back the clock to Book (X-1), and dive into getting that done so you can get back to X. Sometimes this takes a week. Sometimes it takes a month. Sometimes longer.
So if you have 9 months to write Book X, plan on losing a month or so to edits.
And then there’s the debut of Book (X-2). Yep, that book will be coming out at some point, and you’ll be spending days writing blog posts and interviews and setting up signings and going to cons…..that eats up a surprising amount of time.
That drops the time to write Book X even lower. Plan on losing at least a week or two to promotion.
And suddenly we have no time to write our short fiction, we’re scrambling to get our books done, and that eats up all our time and brains.
But then comes the day that you’re ready to turn in Book X.
I’m there now, more or less. I’m doing one final read-through before the turn in date, but I think it’s pretty much ready to meet the editor. And once it meets the editor, I’ll be out of contract for a bit.
And that gives me the choice to do whatever I want, writing wise, which I haven’t done since I first went under contract for Book 1.
It’s kinda weird.
But I’m not really free to do just anything. I still have responsiblities:
One of the tasks a writer has at this time (while waiting on edits for Book X to appear) is to prepare proposals for new books. When my agent first asked me for a proposal, I had to ask her, “What’s in a proposal?” (I was clueless.)
Turns out a Proposal is a longer and more involved version of what a writer sends for a query. What my agent wanted was a few-page synopsis of the book, plus sample pages (I sent 50 or so).
So at this time I get to dive back into Proposals for Books I Haven’t Sold, and I’ll hope and pray that my publisher will snap up one of those suggested novels.
(But in my other spare time, when I’m not setting up promotion for Book X-1 , I may even write a short story or two!)