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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Long Does It Take?

Continuing with the theme of Starving Artists (and why the trope needs to die) I thought this would be a good time to do a behind-the-scenes tour of publishing and art. Let's start simple...

How long does it take to write and publish a book?

Answer: It depends on the book and the form of publication. Here are my averages:

Short Stories 
- like REAL LIES, SEVENTY and Prime Sensations in the TALES FROM THE SFR BRIGADE anthology -
REAL LIES took me a day to write because it's microfiction. It's super, super short and I wrote it in one sitting. SEVENTY and Prime Sensations were both written over the course of a week for an anthology call. I'd seen the anthology call, plotted it out, and scripted most of the story before I sat down to write.

REAL LIES went on query for nearly nine months to several ezines. They all closed during the first upwelling of ebooks and so I self-published it with the help of my friend. The cover art is a stock photo, the editing was done by Amy Laurens. Start to finish... 10 months for five pages.

SEVENTY went on query for about seven months, four of which were spent waiting to hear back about the anthology. It was originally published in M-BRANE #5 with no additional editing. Start to finish... thirteen months for the first printing, 2 years until the ebook came out.

Prime Sensations was written, edited, and accepted in under 2 months because I submitted just before the anthology closed. Start to finish...six months between writing and publication because I was working with experienced editors and authors who know how to make things happen.

- like FEY LIGHTS and the Heroes and Villains stories -
FEY LIGHTS was written with the intent to self-publish and the idea was an old one that I dug back out and tidied up. It took roughly a month to write, two more months to edit, and then another six weeks to create the cover art, format, and get it published. It was an experiment and I don't really recommend the Do It All Yourself route to anyone. Start to finish... four months plus change.

EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE was written for an anthology call. I wrote it subbed it, and heard back in about five months. I did another edit to lengthen it for publication elsewhere, sent it out, and heard back in another seven months. Start to finish... thirteen months between writing and publication.

EVEN VILLAINS GO TO THE MOVIES was written knowing I was an In House author with Breathless Press and that I had an editor there. That meant I got to skip most of the messy parts of submission and skip to the head of the line. Still, it took me seven months to write and four more with my editor to make it publication-ready. Start to finish... eleven months.

JANE DOE is the only novel I've taken from rough draft to finished, edited, query-ready novel and even then there's a big question mark over whether it's still good enough. JANE took over a year to write, and about thirteen drafts until I considered it polished. I queried for three months before revising based on the rejection of a full request. Queried again. Revised again. Queried some more. Got a lot of great feedback. Picked up plenty of rejections. Had some editor interest. Revised. Got rejected. And JANE is still out there. It's been a full year since I sent my first query. 

IF (and that's a big IF), if JANE is good enough that an agent signs me there is no guarantee it will ever be published. The agent might recommend I shelve it until the market is better (the SF market is scary). The agent might try to sell it but have it rejected by big and small presses. It may be acquired and later dropped. And if by some miracle of miracles JANE gets me an agent, is picked up by a publishing house, and I have a contract that will eventually take it to print we're still looking at 2-3 years between when the editor contracts the book and when JANE hits the shelves. 

If I turned around and sold JANE to a small e-press I could probably have it published in 2014, but we would still be looking at nearly four years invested in writing a novel that will most likely retail for under $8. 

Eight dollars for a novel that dominated my life for half a decade. 

And people wonder why authors are crazy. 

1 comment:

  1. Great insights. Those novels are the trickiest to get published in the traditional sense. But they're so gratifying to write. Evil things. Not that we'll ever get rich off selling shorts, but they're so much quicker to turn around. It's all the waiting that makes me crazy.