Thinking Three Moves Ahead

No, this isn’t the provisional title for some new crime thriller (although I have started writing a new series that will be out in the Autumn) but another blog about the sort of things you have to think about if you’re an indie author.

The question I get asked most frequently is how I stay motivated, given the only deadlines are the ones I set myself. The simple answer is that if I have any chance of continuing to write full-time I have to remain productive. I believe I spoke in an earlier blog about the calendar I created myself for the year but, where it gets complicated is tying in dates for editing and then for launch.

The upshot of all this is I can end up planning a novel before I have even started writing the one that precedes it and there is a good couple of months between me finishing it and being able to launch (I didn’t even get into the creation of covers, the lead times Amazon needs and making sure it is visible for pre-order).

So, why share this with you? Well, aside from it just being on my mind, it does affect the work I intend to be part of a series. On the one hand, I would love to know the reaction to the first book before even planning the second but I can’t afford to let too much time elapse between the publication dates of the first and its sequel.

For example, take the book I finished writing at the end of June. My wife has been busy with the marketing side of two novels I have just published and so she is still only in the process of reading it through in the same way a normal reader would (I do a quick edit when I am finished to remove any obvious mistakes so she can enjoy the story without getting bogged down by a dozen typos every page). She then has to complete her edit, which is thorough, and whilst juggling the demands of being a mother and having a full-time job and continuing to market my other work. This usually takes around a month. I then need to go through her edits and then check it again at least twice. It has to be uploaded to Amazon a week before it launches and so the book I finished at the end of June isn’t released until September.

The best case scenario is that I get sufficient feedback within a month, which takes us until October. Now assuming I am not in the middle of another project and I can start planning straight away, it will take me until around mid-November to get the sequel written, which, following the time scales earlier would mean a publication date sometime in January, more than half a year after I finished writing the first book. If you’re an established author that would be perfectly acceptable, but part of the whole process of being an independent author is gathering momentum. I need the sequel to be dangling just over the horizon for those who buy the original at launch and, for that, I have to already be writing it before I find out what people think of the first.

A bit of a gamble you might say, and you’d be right. Fortunately my wife is as honest as she is well-read and, although thankfully this hasn’t happened yet, she would tell me if I’m onto a loser with a particular novel. I also have to trust in my ability and draw strength from the hugely positive feedback I have received from the other books I have already published.

Phew – so there it is. Coming back to the purpose for this blog, being an independent author is looking a few moves ahead and weighing up the benefits of pacing yourself against the cost of losing momentum.


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