I can’t speak for all authors. I can only speak for myself. But I have a feeling there are others out there who experience similar joys and fears while writing and publishing a book.
I thought I’d share this because I know some of you who read my posts are thinking of writing a book or are new to writing, and maybe it’ll help to know you’re not the only one who goes through these things. So maybe it can help encourage you. I find a lot of encouragement when I know others go through something similar to me.
Phase I: Starting the Book: Panic and Excitement
You’d think by now since I’ve reached the 50th romance book milestone, I wouldn’t feel a panic when it comes to starting a new one, but I do. There’s a part of me that wonders if I have it in me to write another book. Looking at the entire word count goal for the new book (55,000-65,000 words) seems overwhelming to me, even though I’d done a lot of those before. The only way through it (for me) is to focus on daily word counts. If I tell myself I only have to write 500 words today, it’s way easier to write than if I think of the 60,000 words I need to write in order to finish the book.
Phase II: Writing is so much fun
Except the few times I get stumped and have to work on something else until I know where I’m going in the book, this is really play time. I’m happiest when I’m working on the story. This is the part where I’m in love with story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Phase III: First Draft is done: celebrate
I always celebrate when I finish the first draft. It’s a relief to know I did, in fact, finish the book and have something I will be able to publish.
Phase IV: Editing is painful and the story sucks
During my initial edits, I have to look at the story with a critical eye. My job is to find every single error I can before I hand it off to my editing team. And I’m telling you, I do catch a lot. Through the whole thing I’m thinking, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever written. No one will like it. This is the book where I totally bomb and people stop reading me.”
It doesn’t matter how much I loved the story while I was writing it. I hate the story every time I edit it. The only thing that pushes me through this stage is knowing I did love it while I was writing it, and since that was the case, it has to have some redeeming qualities in it. I just can’t see those qualities while I’m editing.
Phase V: My editing team takes the book
I’m am relieved. I’ll pretend the book doesn’t even exist during this phase because of how painful the initial edits were.
Phase VI: Final edits
I finally love the book again, but I wonder if anyone else will. What’s nice about this stage is knowing the book is completed, so the pressure to write it is off. But there is that pressure to make sure I catch every typo and inconsistency the others missed. (I can tell you right now that finding every single thing with every single book is like searching through a haystack for a needle. Very hard to do, so if you’ve done everything you could and later realize you missed something, go easy on yourself. We’re only human. Just take a deep breath, correct the error, upload it again to the retailer, and continue on with your next book.)
Phase VII: Publishing is another time to celebrate
This is fun because I get to add another book to my backlist and see the result of all the work I put in.
Now, there’s no one book out there that will please everyone who reads it. As you publish more books, you get used the process and routine of doing things. You learn some people will enjoy your books and others won’t. Some people might like some books you do but not others. The only thing you can do is write the book you love and get it as polished up as possible. The rest of it is out of your control.
My advice (for what it’s worth) is to write the next book. Don’t get caught up in reviews or sales (or lack of them). Don’t compare yourself to other authors. I know these things are hard, but you’ll be a lot happier if you focus on the next book.