A Writer’s Life, what 4 books looks like
So back in the day when I sold BLAME IT ON PARIS, I had one book coming out and was working on another book, on my own time frame, in addition to a newborn baby and a full-time job, and I thought it was a lot.
This time around I have FOUR BOOKS plus NOVELLA (count as book for most intents and purposes=FIVE) on schedule, in the air. I’m thrilled. This is key, to have the house back the series like that, to feel free to just write and write. A book out every six months. PERFECT. Once a book gels for me, I often write much faster than that, and I’m nearly done with book four.
No problem. PERFECT. This is what I want.
However, I will say that writing 2 books a year when you are JUST WRITING THEM looks very different from PUBLISHING two books a year.
On any given day in the past month, one of the things for each of the following books was requiring immediate work:
1) Novella (All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate, KISS THE BRIDE): final galleys, set up contests, send out ARCs, I am not doing enough promotion, what! everyone else makes bookmarks and mails flyers, oh dear, I need bookmarks…no bookmarks have appeared by me thinking that, yet
2) Book 1: THE CHOCOLATE THIEF. Copy and line edits (the second round of edits; the initial round of edits is when the editor first reads the book and calls to suggest if anything significant might need to be worked on; in the case of THE CHOCOLATE THIEF, that was when Kensington first went for this series and was a long time ago; with the more recent books, there’s much less time between one and the other). Conversations with marketing. Publicist calls (what! those are 2 different departments? how could I have published an entire book before and not known this?). LOTS and LOTS of things to do for publicist. HUGE things: write articles, query magazines, go ahead and finish setting up those talks that were in the air, fill out an amazingly long author questionnaire, and all those thoughts and contacts I mentioned in the conversation? Follow up on all of them. (Laura: Stop having thoughts.)
3) Book 2: Beginning of month, I was saying to people, “Oh, thank God, there is one book completely on the back burner for now, it is, anyway, my favorite and best-beloved child, and it’s just at that right point in the publication process that I can just ignore it.”
NO CHILD LIKES TO BE IGNORED. (I’m one of 7. I know.) So, suddenly: the title is up for discussion, we need a new one (okay, okay, that only takes an hour or so and lots of emails back and forth). The cover is under discussion. Now the cover copy. Now the cover again, in conjunction with the copy. All small, we’re cool. And THEN, the CALL:
“Oh, my God, Laura, this book. I almost missed my stop! The momentum!”
I told you it was my favorite child. I love my editor.
More praise. Yum, me likes praise.
“But I can’t help feeling it would be better if…”
Wait–wait, it’s my favorite. It’s the one that’s well-behaved. That child that you say, Well, I don’t know, everything just clicked for her, I never had to talk to her principal at all.
“…if you add in some layers…”
Wait! But my momentum! Layers are huge! That’s a HUGE rewrite.
“…of course, if you don’t see it for this book, it’s just something to keep in mind for the next book, but when I see a book this good,” love my editor, love my editor, “I can’t help wanting to make it the best it can be.” Blast it, I talk to my students that way on their papers. Start with the good, go to constructive framing of what can be better, finish with praise. These editors have training. “But if you can’t find a way to do it for this book, it’s okay. You don’t have to do it.”
No, see. You don’t know me. Or maybe, very clever editor, you do. If someone whose opinion I respect tells me the book can be better, and I think about it and agree with what they saw, then I DO HAVE TO DO IT.
4) Book 3: Edits (my own). I finished Book 3 months ago, meaning finished with all my multitude of edits and edits and edits. Over Christmas, I reread it and frowned, thinking it was pretty darn sloppy, and started ruthlessly re-editing. My editor asked for it and Book 4 last month, about 50 pages into that process. No, no, tell her not to read it yet after all! I told my agent. We’ve signed on it, and I still have about 80 pages to go in the re-editing. I do it very late at night, in bed, until the iPad slowly slumps down on my chest and I fall asleep. (See all the other points on this page for why it’s taking so long.)
5) Book 4: that’s the book on MY front burner, the one I’m in the middle of writing. It is my redheaded stepchild. It is 60,000 words long now (out of an average of anywhere from 85-95,000 words). It also has 60,000 words that have been CUT in my “cuts” document and another 30,000 words that are brainstormed scenes that I keep trying to fit into it like misshapen quilt pieces but just might not ever. If anything else drags me away from this book so that I cannot finish it while I have it whole in my head, I will beat that head against something.
For my publishing house, the “only” thing I’ve had to do for Book 4 this month is write a proposal when we were contracting (like most authors, I despise writing proposals). But it is on my end all-consuming.
6) Books…next: well, okay, then. I am meeting with a local chocolate-maker who studied at a school in Paris that a secondary character in Book 4 went to, because that secondary character is just begging to have her story told. Plus, I love my research. Plus, see #2 about setting up talks and chocolate-tasting-signings.
SO. I feel a bit like one of those comical cartoon characters who glances up just in time to see the enormous snowball rolling down on them.
Because my husband is asleep and I don’t want to wake him up to make him draw me a comical cartoon character, I prefer to think of it as my little ganache square self glancing up just in time to see that huge wall of chocolate pouring down.
Those are actually praliné centers in the picture, but I prefer to be a ganache, myself.
It’s a lot of fun. Seriously. It might be a bit much with the full-time job and the 5-year-old still front and center, but it’s a lot of fun. Any day now I should be seeing the new cover and announcing the title for Book 2, and it makes me feel like a kid at Christmas.