A lot of people have asked me the following question in one way or another.
Since you wrote the whole series before the first book was published, and Age of Myth is now out. What are you doing now?
It’s a reasonable question. The answer is I’m working on edits to the last book.
But I thought you wrote the whole series already? What gives?
Well, there is a huge difference between written and finished. So let me explain the process and where I am.
So, here’s the steps I go through to get a book from my head to the shelves.
- Initial writing…and during this stage no one sees the book during the first draft. I may vaguely talk about some points with Robin during the writing stage, but not even she gets to see the book until I’m done.
- After writing the book it goes through a second pass edit. Usually there are notes I made while writing that I have to incorporate to accommodate changes I made from my outline during the writing process.
- I read over the book one last time (and make some really minor changes) before any eyes can see the book.
- Robin (my wife) reads the book and usually has a lot of input for changes…most of which I agree with and incorporate.
- After the entire series has been read by Robin, I go through the book(s) and make the changes to them based on her “alpha feedback.”
- After the alpha changes are incorporated, Robin goes over the book to give it a first pass copy and line edit. At this stage the book is ready for “other eyes.”
- Robin holds a beta read to get feedback from other people.
- The book goes to my editor at Del Rey (this may happen at the same time as #7 or after #11 below).
- Feedback from he beta is organized by Robin and I incorporate the changes.
- Robin does another copy and line edit after the beta feedback is incorporated.
- Feedback from #8 is incorporated in the book.
- Robin does another copy and line edit after the publisher’s feedback is incorporated.
- Now the book is ready for professional copy editing, and it goes to the editors the publisher employs.
- Copy edited comments come back and Robin works through the main meat of them and highlights things she feels I’ll have to address – and I do.
- I read over the whole manuscript from front to back and during this read any minor changes that were done by the copyediting process that I feel need to be tweaked are.
- The book goes to layout and at this point all changes are frozen.
- The book is printed and eventually released.
Wow, that’s a long list. Now where are we with all the books in the series?
- Book #1 is at step #17
- Book #2 is at step #6
- Book #3 is at step #6
- Book #4 is at step #6
- Book #5 is at step #6
- Book #6 is at step #5 – 22 chapters are finished and I’m working on the last six.
Now, for some that last line mentioning book #6 may be a surprise (although I’ve talked about it elsewhere). Yes, the series that started out as a trilogy has expanded once again and will end up at six books. That little detail probably deserves a whole post of it’s own, and I’ll do that soon. But here’s the short answer.
Robin’s alpha feedback showed that books 1 – 3 were in really clean shape, and didn’t require much in the way of changes. Book 4 – 5 was a another story, and as I fixed the myriad of problems much of book #4 moved to book #5 and the “natural” stop for book #5 turned out to be in the middle of a 230,000 word book so it made sense to split it.
I should note that once a book gets to step #6 it’s in pretty good shape and while there are minor tweaks, I’ve yet to have any serious re-writing to a book once it reaches that stage. And most of the heavy lifting is done by people other than me (mainly Robin, the beta readers, and my publisher). So, while I’ve not been free to work on anything else yet, I will be soon.
So what WILL I be working on once the last six chapters of book 6 are done? Well, I don’t know yet. What I plan on doing is using the rest of the summer to go through the plots for the 12 – 15 books that are vying for my attention. I hope to have that sorted out by September 1, at which time I’ll start a new project. I like starting books in the fall, it reminds me of returning to school, and is usually my most productive writing times. More on this once I know more.
Thanks for writing out your process! It’s fascinating to see how the books develop over time. It’s also inspiring how you plan to go through different outlines and pick a new project for the fall. I love the idea of starting a book in the fall. Good luck and I’m excited to read the books!
You are very welcome. I’ve been working on Legends of the First Empire since February 2013 so over three years now and counting. I’m really pleased with how it has come out, but I’m also anxious to get on to something new. Lots of possibilities.
I’m fully engrossed in the Age of Myth audiobook and am hooked for the rest of the series. Raithe has just enough of Hadrian that he feels familiar while still being a completely separate character. I was really starting to miss Royce and Hadrian, but it’s always good to make some new friends. Now if only my kids would stop wanting to play with me long enough for me to finish it. 😉
Great! The reception of the first book has been so wonderful. Play with your kids – before you know it they’ll be all grown up. Mine are.
Thanks for sharing all those steps. It was very interesting. Looking forward to book #2.
Thanks, Susan. I’m excited for it as well.
There is a lot between writing and publishing. Glad you are excited for book #2. It’s my favorite of the bunch.