Each book is my best book. Seriously. I say it all the time and I mean it. Every novel or short story is a labour of love and all my talent goes into the telling of it. As the years have passed, I've been able to compress the amount of time I spend getting each book written and published.
The first novel I wrote took only a few months, but it was a mess in terms of how I handled points of view. Eventually, after years of editing, the book won a local award. My second attempt at writing a novel went well and was complete within six months. By this time I'd joined a writing network and read tons of books and articles about the craft. The trouble was, it took five years before I was satisfied with the edits. I sent out queries and landed a publishing contract in 2009.
As the years have progressed, I've improved on the way I approach my writing. Lately, I've been working with word counts and even joined a Facebook group with people who wanted to hit 1,000 words each day. I don't set a particular goal, but at the end of the day, I make a note as to how many words I've written and let me tell you, I amaze myself on a good day. The point is, I can get a book written in as little as two months and there are writers who can get 60k words written in a month. It's a matter of being focused and deadline oriented.
For a long time, I treated my writing as a hobby. Even now, I don't handle the marketing and promotional side of things the way I would if I were earning my living from fiction. I can't overstress the importance of completing each story and getting it edited in a timely manner to fit into a production schedule.
In comparison, you may feel like a tortoise, but it's perfectly okay to work at the pace that's right for you. Each writer needs to own his/her writing process, know what works and stick with the plan for each book. It is also important to know when you've reached the point of diminishing returns with each story. Work up the courage to get it into the world and move on to the next set of characters who are calling your name. I should add that I've noticed that the books I spend years writing and editing get the same enthusiastic reviews as the ones I've written in a much shorter timeframe. As one reader put it, I'm 'an author who improves with every book'.
Do you put a timeline to producing each of your stories and do you know when to quit self-editing and get the manuscript off to your editor or publisher?
Readers don't pay for our labor. They pay for being entertained, and if a novel whipped out in a month is entertaining, it will sell far better than a boring one that was laboriously gone over for three years. Sad, ironic, true.
- Suki Michelle Clark