Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you guys are having a great week. Today we have a post from our special guest, Lynnette Hallberg (who also writes as Lynnette Austin), author of Somebody Like You, the first book in the Maverick Junction series releasing this November with Grand Central! Lynnette's talking about writing to a deadline. I hope you find her post as helpful as I did (my impending deadline thanks her for the advice!) and leave her some great comments below!
WRITING TO THAT DEADLINE
The phone rings, and it’s your agent. The publishing house of your dreams has offered you a contract on proposal or maybe even a multi-book contract. You happy dance through the house, pop the bubbly, call everybody on your contact list…and then it hits. You’re under contract—for books you’ve not yet written.
When you start out writing, you work at your own pace. You sleep in if the mood strikes, you skip a day if something comes up. After all, there’s no hurry, right? You’ll send the WIP off when it’s ready, whenever that is.
Once you sell on proposal, all that changes. One of the first things your new editor will discuss with you is when she can expect the finished manuscript or, in the case of a series, book two and book three. This is when you need to be truly honest, both with your editor and with yourself. Before you commit to a three or four or six month turn-around, be certain it will work for you.
Things to consider:
Life. It happens. Make allowances for it.
Your schedule. Take into consideration planned vacations, holidays, family or class reunions, RWA Nationals and other conferences, graduations. The three dozen cupcakes you need to bake for school that you don’t find out about until seven o’clock the night before they’re expected. You get the picture.
Professional commitments: For some, these will be your writing commitments. Others have day jobs with obligations. Since these pay the rent, factor them in.
Promotion: This includes promotion for your upcoming books—you know, those ones you haven’t written yet—as well as any you already have out there. Book signings, speaking engagements, blogs, Facebooking, twittering— it all takes time. There will be your website to get going or updated. Remember, book one will come out while you’re working on book two. Promotion is a time-eater, a necessary one. Don’t forget to take this into consideration when you set your deadlines.
Edits: While you’re writing that second book, you’ll be working with your editor on the first one. When the edits arrive, they have to take top priority as there’s almost always a fast turn-around. You’ll also be tossing around title alternatives and cover ideas. Allow time to enjoy this fun part of writing.
Writing Pace: Some authors can easily turn out ten pages a day. Others would run from the keyboard
screaming if you suggested they do that. A good day for them might be one page or three. A few—Nora Roberts comes to mind—can write four or five fabulous books a year, while others need a year or a year and a half per book. Take this into consideration before you commit to a publishing schedule. However, if it’s a series or trilogy, keep in mind that publishers like to release them fairly close together to build momentum.
When Grand Central bought my Maverick Junction series, we agreed that the first book, Somebody Like You, would come out November 2012. The second in the series, Nearest Thing to Heaven, is due on November first. It will be released in April 2013 when the third book will be turned in to my editor. That book will be released November 2013.
Once this time frame was nailed down, I pulled out my calendar and crossed out the times I won’t be able to write because of other commitments. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that unexpected things will pop up—both good and bad! That in mind, my plan is to write five days a week. This gives me two bumper days. It might be a weekend and I decide to play or maybe I’ll take a Wednesday because of a doctor’s appointment or a Friday girls’ day for lunch and a movie.
Using my now marked-up calendar, I counted how many days between now and my deadline I’d have to write, divided that into my 90,000 word target, and came up with the necessary word count per day that will let me make my deadline.
When I hit that count, I can quit for the day without guilt. Do I always? No. If the story’s flowing, I keep writing. This gives me a cushion in case of an emergency. I don’t, though, allow myself to carry any extra words into the next day’s work. I start at zero each day and write till I hit my count.
A word of warning. You cannot use all of your allowed time on a first draft. You need to finish it early enough to let it “rest” and still have time to edit. You’re expected to turn in a polished manuscript at deadline. My goal for Nearest Thing to Heaven, due in November, is to finish the rough draft by the end of August, edit it in September, and send it off in October. This will give me an additional month for book three so I can enjoy the holidays and still make my April first deadline
By planning ahead, an author can avoid the panic that comes with an impending deadline and an unfinished manuscript. Most important, though, planning allows you to enjoy both your writing and your life, something that’s absolutely imperative if you intend to make writing a career.
aka Lynnette Austin
You can find Lynnette on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, or at her website www.lynnettehallberg.com
Thanks for joining us, Lynnette! Check back Friday for our regular blog hop post.