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Making of a Novel, Part 8


This is a continuing series of posts about the writing of my novel, Starveyors. You can start at the beginning and catch up at your own pace, or just read on and try to figure it all out on your own. There’s a link list for these posts on the blog’s sidebar to your right.

Writing and Production Schedule 

This time I thought I’d take a break and talk about my proposed writing schedule for this novel. I know from the logs of my last novel that I can write the bulk of a novel in about three to four months without having it completely take over my life. So the my goal for writing Starveyors is to finish the first draft in four months, starting this January.

I don’t have a daily word count and you probably won’t see me posting how many words I write each day on Twitter or G+. I find that kind of annoying anyway. But you will be able to track my progress on this blog by looking at the progress bar in the right hand margin.

I will disclose the time of day that I plan to write. I write best after a cup of coffee or a can of Mt. Dew. Who doesn’t right? So that means I will try and write briefly in the morning after coffee and before getting ready for work. But I anticipate being more productive during my lunch hours. I expect to write at least four days a week over my lunch time. This means less eating out, which should help me drop some weight. Nice bonus. Sometimes I may be able to sneak in an hour or two during the weekends, if I’m able to sneak away from the family long enough to get into a groove. No guarantees there.

When I’m writing a novel I can usually muster about 500-1000 words per hour. Sometimes more, usually not less as that would mean I were interrupted. I’m able to maintain this flow by sticking to my outline and planning each day’s writing ahead of time, usually during my commute to the day job or during my morning swim workouts.

If I’m able to complete the first draft by the end of April, I will avoid interfering with baseball season. Both of my boys are on teams and I’m an assistant coach for one and volunteer as an Umpire for the other. So my days and nights are that much more busy during the Spring.

Beyond the First Draft

So what happens after the first draft is complete? I combine the chapters into one rtf document and I send it off to my core beta readers. My beta readers number about four or five and I usually give them a month to read and comment on the manuscript. Because I stick to my outline, they rarely find structural errors in the story. So that means they focus on characters and action and everything from grammar to voice. Most of the readers have been reading all my novels and are pretty familiar with my universe. They usually spot when I stray off course when it comes to continuity. I usually try and and invite at least one person who had never read my SF books. This lets me ensure that the story makes sense to the reader who is new to my universe.

When I start getting the feedback in from my beta readers, I have to sort through the comments and make changes to the master chapters as needed. This process usually takes me about a month to complete. Then I read the manuscript over from start to finish to make sure it stil makes sense to me. After that, it goes to my editor.

Cover Art

About this time I’m also in constant contact with my cover designer. I need to give him a couple month’s lead way on the project to ensure that he has time to create the cover art. For the Star Trilogy, I’ve been using my graphics designer brother, Byron McConnell to create my cover art. We’ve spent quite a bit of time coming up with the covers for all three books and by now we already know what needs to be done for Starveyors. So he should be able to crank out this last cover pretty quickly.


This will be a new addition to my process this year and one that I will be paying more attention to. I can’t say exactly what I’ll be doing but I do know that the process will start about the time I finish the first draft. I’ll be looking for blogs to guest post on, podcasts to make appearances on and anything else to get my name out there. This will be the third and final book of the trilogy, so I’ll be making sure that everyone knows they can now read the whole thing and not have to wait.


I usually give my editor a month or more to work her magic on the manuscript. Since the story has been read by a half dozen people before she gets it, she usually doesn’t have to worry about structural errors and focuses on the little details like POV changes and sentence flow.

The editing stage is the first time money is exchanged. You must use a professional editor  here and that involves spending money. I’m not going to reveal what I pay my editor, if you want to use her services you can contact her directly.

Final Draft

After the editor has corrected my manuscript, I must then go through the master and address her suggestions and make the required changes. This also takes me about a month on average. When this is completed there are usually typos and other data input errors in the manuscript. So I read the whole novel over again, looking for obvious errors. Then I get another set of eyes on it, while I read it from back to front. Reading it backwards as it were, lets you spot obvious formatting errors.

By this time I’m completely sick of the damn book. I’ve written it, read it and corrected to death for about five to six months. When I get it to where it’s as perfect as it can be, I send it off to my ebook publisher.

Ebook Creation

In the past I’ve done all my own ebook creation. I’m fairly technical and I have the skill set to make this happen. But my efforts are not perfect in this regard. I could get much more fancy and produce cleaner ebooks, but that would take longer and we are already getting close to a full year on the book already. So I’m handing off that task to a capable programmer and someone who has the time to make the ebook look great.

Second outlay of money. If you want a decent ebook created, find yourself a programmer that specializes in ebooks. The person I’m using is Nate McIntyre from Black Label Press. He happens to be someone I work with at the day job and I can personally vouch for his abilities and knowledge.


When the ebook conversion is finished and the cover is finished, I then start posting it to the various ebook selling venues at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. As a self publisher, I handle all of that myself. I usually have my books ready to hit the markets in the late fall. So barring any unforeseen circumstances, I should be launching in October or November of 2012.

Next time it’s back to showing you how I outline the novel.




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