WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?!

There are authors who can put out a book in a month.

Spoiler alert: I’m not one of them.

I know that a lot of people are waiting for Torn to come out, some rather impatiently. There’s nothing wrong with that–it’s wonderful to know that people enjoyed Bound enough that they’re excited to read more of the story. Amazing. A little shocking, as there are more of them than I expected, but wonderful.

I thought it would be a good time to explain why I don’t get a book out a month, why it takes a while for me to do this, and why it’s best I don’t rush things.

But first: In case anyone missed the note before, the release date for Torn will probably be late March/early April, with February pre-orders, not December 2015. I know, “Winter 2015” could have meant either, but I really couldn’t be more specific than that when I released Bound. But hey, sooner is better than later, right? Yaaaaaay.

But still, this is 8-9 months after Bound came out. What gives, WRITER PERSON?

A few things.

I started Bound in November 2010 (yes, it’s a NaNoWriMo novel. Officially). That means it took me 3.5 years to get it ready for publication, most of it spent finding the story, improving it, and developing the characters that many people seem to be somewhat fond of. I was also learning about the craft of writing. This wasn’t my first story (I’ve been writing for years), but it was my first completed novel.

A big part of the reason all of this took so long is that writing is not my full-time job. During 2.5 of those years, I had a kid at home full-time and one in school during the day. Last year the younger guy went to school half days, and I finally got time to work. A whole hour or two a day! WOOHOO! But still, writing was a hobby. I couldn’t devote a lot of time to it without ticking the family off.

The point is, I’ve had to fit writing in around my family’s schedule, because they’re kind of my main job. My husband works shifts and is on-call a lot, so that factors into it, too. I can’t spent six, or eight, or twelve hours a day cranking out books, as some indie authors say they do. I hope I’ll get at least a few solid hours in a day now that the kids are both in school full-time (though home for lunch), but until now it’s been hit-or-miss.

Second thing: I do a lot of revisions. I know some people say not to do that, but I do. Why? Because the story, the characters, and the world get better with every draft and every scene re-write. If I had released Bound when it was “good enough,” it would have looked nothing like it does today, and I’d be wishing for a do-over now. It takes time for my ideas to evolve, for the puzzle pieces to fall into place, for little details to appear that make the story richer. My first drafts aren’t the worst in the world, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. If I waited for perfection I’d never release anything, and there comes a time when I have to let go. But when there are still big issues, I can’t. You all deserve better (and so do my beta readers).

So I do two drafts before anything goes to my first readers (three in the case of Bound and Torn, because they just weren’t ready after two). I have to let the stories rest for at least a month between drafts so I can gain some perspective, so that adds time, though I am working on other things while those are festering. Then beta readers get time with them, and I revise again based on their critique. Then I have to wait until my editor is ready, and he gets the book for about two weeks, and then… yes, scene rewrites, edits, all that fun stuff.

And then someone has to read it again.

It is a long process, but I’m committed to only releasing the best-quality books I’m capable of. That takes a lot of help, and a bit of time.

Maybe now that I have time during the day, I’ll get on a roll and be able to produce a 30,000 word novella in six months. But with rewrites, off-times, and waits for editing, I can’t see a big story taking much less than a year, at least in the near future. (For reference, Bound was 118,000 words, and Torn is almost as long.) Maybe as I become more comfortable with crafting longer and more complex stories, those puzzle pieces will start falling into place in earlier drafts. That would be fantastic, and they did for my unreleased Urban Fantasy novella. But at this point I’m not going to sacrifice quality for speed.

Good thing I started Torn in November 2012, right? Did the first draft through December that year, and did the second draft last year. And that’s how it goes: It’s a long process, but I try to have several things on the go at once so you all don’t have to wait so long.

So there you go. Reasonable best-case scenario (as of right now) for a long book: 3 months for draft one, 1 month to settle, 2 months for draft 2, another quiet month, another run-through before beta readers see it (probably at least 1 month), 1 month for them to read, 1 month (conservative) to fix that, 2 weeks with the editor (if I can get him at that time; scheduling can be an issue), 2+ more months to make things shine. Then proofreading, formatting, advance copies, etc., and LAUNCH.

And through that there are birthday parties, Christmas, summer vacation (two months when things slow to a crawl), a dog to walk, dentist appointments, teacher meetings, and those oh-so-irritating and frequent migraine days when it’s all I can do to keep the household running, never mind stringing a sentence together. I know, other parents manage to work at home just fine, and some writers with full-time jobs crank out a book a week.

I’m not them. My point is, it takes me some time, but I promise you’re not going to get anything less than my best. I respect readers enough to offer only that, even if it means a semi-frustrating wait between books. I wish I was one of those amazing writers who can offer both (and some of those fast writers really do), but right now I have to choose between more books and better books.

I choose better.

 

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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