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