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  • Writer's pictureMichael James

What it takes to write a book.

So, believe it or not, book 2 of the Hotel series is finished.

“Finished.” Ha. I should clarify.

What I’ve completed is the first draft of book 2. This process took me about five months, and I emerged with a pretty kick-ass story clocking in at around 85,000 words.

I think I can have book 2 released by August.

“But why August, Mike,” I assume someone is asking, maybe someone named Straw M. Man. “If the book is finished, why don’t you release it next week?”

It’s a good question Straw, and I thought it would be fun to talk about exactly what happens after the first draft is finished. Every person’s process is going to be different, but this is mine.

Here’s what I have in front of me before I can put the book out.

2 weeks – do nothing

After I write a book, I have to let it sit. Mileage will vary, but I’ve been knee-deep in the Hotel for half a year now. I need a break and I need to get distance from whatever the heck I just wrote. I always take a breather after I finish the first draft.

6 weeks – 2nd edit

This where a lot of heavy lifting gets done. I actually edit as I go in the first draft, so it’s not like the book is a total disaster, but it still needs a lot of work. I need to fill in all the holes, expand some scenes, remove others, work on my language, all that good stuff that brings a book from merely “okay” to “polished”

6 weeks – professional editing + Beta

Yes, I use a professional editor and yes, she’s brilliant, and yes, she makes everything I write about a thousand times better. If you’re in the market for a spectacular editor, you couldn’t pick a better one than her. Her name is Alex and if you’re interested you can check out her site here, but I can tell you she’s at least booked in late April / Early May with Hotel work :).

So what does editing look like? Well, Alex will go through my draft a line at a time. She’ll give me feedback on things like pace and plotting and structure and word choice and voice and theme and all of it. Honestly, I feel like Alex does most of the work here. I just have to take her feedback.

I’ll also send the book out to a few trusted beta readers. They’ll also provide feedback on things like pacing and plot

6 weeks – Fixing everything my editor / beta readers found

In Hotel 1, Alex pruned off about 15,000 words and I think we ended up adding about 12,000 new ones back in their place. Plus there’s addressing all the beta feedback, making decisions about what to accept and what to debate, some light crying; it’s a total process.

From experience, the end-to-end editing process lasts around 3 months.

1 week – more sitting there doing nothing

Before I get to the final sprint, I let the book marinate one more time.

2 days – the cover to cover read

This is critical. I book off a weekend and read the book, out loud, cover to cover. It usually takes about twenty hours. This is a critical step and it’s so important for finding all those little nooks and crannies I missed. I both hate and adore the cover-to-cover read

2 weeks – Done – and by that I mean one more quick round of updates

I should be done after the cover to cover re-read but I know myself and I know I won’t be able to resist and I will almost certainly do one final, final, final, final edit over the final few weeks.

If anyone is counting, by this stage I have usually read my own book, cover to cover, about ten times, and I am very sick of it.

Counting it all up – about 20 – 24 more weeks to go

Or, about half a year, also known as around August.

Oh and I should probably come up with a title for book 2 one of these days. I’ll add that to the list.

So there you have it. All the hours I throw into these books. Easy peasy.

If you have any questions about Book 2 or just want to chat, you can find me on Twitter @studioreadwrite

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