J. Zachary Pike's

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Fiction, Gaming & Writing


A Note on Book Progress

Let’s talk about progress.

The one question I get asked more than any other is “when will Son of a Liche be released?” It’s fantastic to hear that people want more adventures in Arth, but regrettably, I don’t have a worthy answer. The unfortunate truth is that I don’t know. But I’ll do my best to shed some light on why I’m unsure, and how you can stay up to date.

I’ve noted before that I’m a part-time author. I dedicate most of my time to my day job and my young girls, and that’s the way it has to be. But beyond the havoc projects at work or sick kids can wreak on a writing schedule, there’s a ton of uncertainty built into the writing process.

Even with a good outline, a novel flexes and changes a lot when I draft it. Scenes expand and contract; ideas spring into existence or die horrible, protracted deaths; and plot lines find new paths like rivers cutting through a flood plain. When I write a draft, I can count on getting 250 to 1,000 words a day done. I would estimate my progress based on my rate of writing and my target word counts.  It worked fairly well, although my rate of writing is always variable, and even my target word counts would change. At three or four points during the draft, I took time to reassess where I was in the plot and how long the book would be. (When I started, I thought it would be 125,000 words. The first draft ended up just shy of 160,000.)

The revising process, I’m finding, is even more uncertain. When I’m working in chapters I’m happy with, I can revise up to 2,500 words in a writing session—almost as fast as I can read it. But some chapters need to be rewritten entirely, and I can spend days trying to figure out how to connect one of these new chapters into plot lines that are already in full swing. Some days I wrestle with scenes for hours, only to nuke them. One day in January I deleted over 7,000 words. I didn’t add one.

All this to say, gauging progress is very difficult. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

I’m in the revision process. I plan this to be two passes—one for story, and one for language. A story pass is more intense, so I’ve guessed that will be about 2/3 of the effort. Thus, when I update the revision bar, I do so by dividing the number of chapters I’ve taken a first pass at, dividing it by the number of chapters in the book, and multiplying the result by .66.

That’s still an imperfect system. When I started the revision, the book had 27 chapters. At one point it had 24. It peaked at 29. So the percentage has a certain fluff factor. But it’s the best I can do.

I’ve begun update the progress meters on my WIP page every time I finish a chapter, and this month I added a “last updated” field so you can see that progress is still being made. And as always, the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for my semi-regular newsletter. (My subscribers saw this update a week ago.)

As you can see, it’s tough to say exactly where I am in the writing process. But I’ll keep you updated as best I can as I push on. As always, I’m in this for the long haul.

7 thoughts on “A Note on Book Progress”

  1. JR says:

    Just make sure that when it does get published, it gets an Audible release as well, and using the same narrator.

    1. That’s the plan. 🙂

  2. Indeed! Also, thank you for posting about this and the explanation. Good to see this and see that it was recent. I admit I’ve had the good fortune to get into some books with quick turn around times lately. Realizing the first book was in 2014 made me have anxiety I’d gotten into a dropped series, even though I know by many standards that’s completely reasonable span of time between books. Good to have proof in hand that the series continues and the next is on the way.

    1. I’m glad it helps. If you’re ever wondering again, check the progress meter. It’ll give a date of when I finished the last chapter.

  3. Kasia says:

    I loved, loved, loved the book.
    Keep up the good work and take your time revising (I mean not THAT much time lol) and publish a quality book that I’ll surely enjoy.
    Thank you

  4. Mick Close says:

    Hi, I just stumbled across this explanation and wanted to say thanks, I just finished the first book and I loved it. I am really looking forward to the next book, hope that everything goes well for you so that you get it finished to the right standard.

    Thanks again, Mick C.

    1. Thanks for reading! I appreciate the note.

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