The Process (Conclusion)

The last part of our look at how an Alex Verus novel gets written.  If you missed the earlier bits of the series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Putting It Together

So what does the full timeline look like?

1. Idea (? months)
2. Planning (1-2 months)
3. First Draft (5-7 months)
4. Waiting for Edits (1-2 months)
5. Edits (1-4 months)
6. Waiting for Copy-Edits (1-2 months)
7. Copy-Edits (<1 month)
8. Waiting for Proofs (1-2 months)
9. Proofs and AQs (minimal time)
10. Pre-Publication (4-6 months)

We can probably cut out the idea and planning stages, as they’re mostly done in the background while I work on other things.  So that leaves the writing stage (step 3) and then the road to publication (steps 4 to 10).  Adding it all up, we get the following time spans:

First Draft:  5-7 months
Road to Publication:  9-17 months

In practice, the time for the first drafts for the last few books has come in at a consistent 6 months, largely because that’s the deadline I set myself.  The time for the road to publication stage has been more variable.  Chosen took 11 months, Hidden took 14, and the new book is looking like it’ll be 13.  Added together they average to close to a year.  So 6 months to write the book, and 12 months to edit it and get it published.

If this seems like a long time, that’s because it is.

Is It Worth It?

The six months figure to write the book is probably understandable to most of you – it’s slow by the standards of some authors, but fast by the standards of others, and it’s not particularly notable one way or the other.  I suspect the part that most of you are more likely to balk at is the 12-month publication process.  While this figure is pretty standard in the industry, the fact that it takes publishers twice as long to edit and put out a book as it does for me to write it might raise a few eyebrows to those not experienced with the publishing business.

So is all that wait time necessary?  Could it be done faster?

Well, it depends.

Some of the items – in fact, most of the items – in the publication process are very necessary.  All the stages of edits, in particular, are crucial.  All of my books have been greatly improved by the editorial process that they’ve been through – if I were self-publishing, I could put up each new Alex Verus novel on Amazon within a week of finishing the first draft, but they’d be much worse books.  So from that point of view, yes, the wait time’s necessary.

On the other hand, if I’m being honest, it doesn’t probably need to be quite that long.  While edits might be essential, I spend as much time waiting for edits to be delivered as I do actually editing, and by the time we get to the proof stage, the book is mostly just sitting around.  Unfortunately, all of these wait periods are determined by bureaucratic and scheduling decisions made by my publisher, and as such are out of my hands.  I could kick up a fuss, but it’d be pointless – the 12 month processing time is the industry standard, and I’m not a big enough gorilla to demand changes.  All it’d accomplish would be to cause a lot of stress and bad feeling for no real gain, and I’d rather spend my energy on writing.

Finishing Up

And that’s how an Alex Verus novel gets written – hope you found it interesting!  Next week, we’re back to Ask Luna.

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6 Responses to The Process (Conclusion)

  1. Nicola says:

    Not being an author, I wonder: how rigid is the 6-months writing period? Granted that the planning is (for the most part, I gather) done earlier, and allowing for emergencies (which aren’t surprising), I could imagine that, mid-first draft, it turns out that something big has to be changed.

    Let’s say, as an example, that, even though already introduced, Alex’s father has no purpose in book seven, and that eliminating him from the book requires the rewriting of half of the book. How does that influence everything?

    Thank you!

  2. John says:

    I’m surprised that you say it is industry standard for publication to require 12 months or more after the first draft.

    I follow the blogs of several authors who write similar books to yours (genre and length), and the average seems to be closer to 6 months after their first draft to publication for them.

  3. Benedict says:

    Nicola: It’s more or less as rigid as I decide to make it. I usually find that a fixed deadline helps me write faster, so I picked 6 months as a figure that I can consistently hit. Cutting things out and rewriting tends to slow the book down substantially.

    John: Might depend on publisher. The other authors I know with the same publisher as me also say 12 months. 6 seems pretty fast, though, especially if edits are required.

  4. Robert Mandell says:

    Do you use a group of Beta readers? If so does this slow or speed your writing process?

  5. Benedict says:

    I’ve got a beta reader group, yes. It slows things down slightly during the first draft process, but also means less time in the edits stage.

  6. Paige says:

    Wait wait wait, you use beta readers? How does one become one of your beta readers?