Douglas Adams once said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” I can relate to the sound of a passing milestone, but for me it feels more akin to the buzzing of a bullet grazing my cheek. I really, really hate missing deadlines.
The other way that deadlines are like bullets is that in both cases, bigger ones generally mean more trouble. And that’s largely been my problem with predicting when I’ll launch Son of a Liche.There’s a tremendous amount of work in editing and revising a book of this length, let alone formatting it, making an audiobook, etc. Guessing how long it will take is incredibly difficult. At the very least, I can say I’m bad at it.
So I found myself heading into August with a goal of publishing by the end of the year, but no real milestones. And so I sat down to map out the remaining work and answer one pressing question: “will I make it?”
Spoiler alert: No.
But now I have a plan.
Why Revising Takes So Long
When writing a rough draft, it’s fairly straightforward to estimate where you are in the process. That’s because, with the help of a good outline, you can tell roughly where you are in the story. I did have to adjust my time estimates a couple of times in drafting Son of a Liche, as the plot took me in new directions while I wrote. But overall, I could tell where I was with a fairly good degree of accuracy.
Revising, on the other hand, is the hardest thing for me to estimate. There’s an old test taking strategy that says skim through and hit the easy problems first, then come back to the challenging bits. Writing a rough draft is like answering the easy parts. You may write something down that you know isn’t working, but you’ll figure out how to make it work later. Drafting is all about speed.
And then when you go back to revise the draft, all the thorny bits you skimmed on by are still waiting for you. And the only way to get where you want to go is straight through them. It’s really hard for me to say how long that will take, because if I knew what I needed to do to solve the narrative issues, I wouldn’t have left them in the rough draft.
Why It’s Easier To Plan After Revising
Now, however, I’ve finished my second draft of Son of a Liche, and things are clearer.
The third draft is easier to gauge as a process, because the structural issues are smaller and easier to address. Mostly what I’m doing is working on grammar and cleaning up some of my bad habits. And I’m moving quickly—as of this writing, I’m finished 30% of the draft in just three weeks.
And as for other tasks, they’re easier to estimate, because they’re smaller. Formatting a book is a lot of work, but it’s not writing a book. Creating a webpage for a book takes thirty minutes or so. I can plan for these tasks, because they don’t occupy hundreds of hours the way drafting and revising do.
Based on the publishing plan I’ve sketched out, I plan to have my book to beta readers in early November, and to an editor around the end of the year. I’ll be finalizing the text, working on formatting, coordinating with the audiobook team, and preparing my marketing throughout the spring, and I expect to launch in mid-2018. I’ll be checking in on progress in January and in March, so if any of those dates change, my readers will know.
And the dates may change. Most of my uncertainty is rooted in the reaction of my beta readers. I’ve reached the point where I read through my work and I’m smiling and laughing—and not at my poor attempts at drama! But I’m too close to the project to know if its too long and boring, if characters don’t connect, if giant plot holes exist. And if my beta readers hate the book, I may have months of wrestling with the text ahead of me. If they love it, and I’m really hopeful that they will, things will go faster.
Either way, I’ll keep working, and I’ll keep you informed. As a part-time author, that’s all I can promise.
Thanks for reading.