Before I was published I had no idea how a book was produced, the time frames or the actual process from manuscript to book launch. I am currently part-way through the process with my fifth book "Taking A Chance On Love' so thought I'd share with you the timeline.
A misconception is that you write a book and that's it, you simply hand it over and the publishers do the rest. Nope. This is how it works:
6th Jan 2019 - began plotting a new book.
7th Jan 2019 - began writing the new book.
6th May 2019 - submitted the written manuscript to my editor (111,000 words).
29th May - book cover revealed to me by my editor - I loved it!
4th June - book cover revealed on social media.
30th June 2019 - structural edits* arrive from editor (I had four weeks to complete).
6th July 2019 - structural edits completed and manuscript returned to my editor.
7th Sept 2019 - copy edits** arrive from my editor (I had three weeks to complete).
11th Sept 2019 - copy edits completed and manuscript returned to my editor.
? - proofreading the manuscript (a future date which I expect to happen in the next month to six weeks).
23rd January 2020 - Taking A Chance On Love - book launch!
* structural edits - alterations needed or queries arising from the timeline/plot line structure of the book
** copy edits - fine tuning of the written word be it phrases, punctuation or misunderstanding which need further detail
As you can see there are many stages over the duration of nine months. I was quite shocked when I signed a publishing contract because no one had explained to me the above timeline so I hope it helps aspiring authors.
In between the timeline gaps of delivering a written manuscript to your editor e.g. 6th May, you simply get on with plotting, planning and writing another book. Which means that when the structural edits arrive e.g. 30th June, you will cease writing your current manuscript to focus on the edits needed and return a.s.a.p. before going back to your current writing. You don't wait for the whole process to end before starting a new book - you literally juggle the projects as needed. For me, I tend to be writing a fresh manuscript, part-way through the edits on the next publication and thinking up ideas for a future project!
Last week, I was on holiday in St Ives. I entered the holiday cottage, walked upstairs into the bathroom after our long journey and bang, stopped dead in my tracks on closing the door. I stood staring at a pristine white bathroom with a beautiful tile effect. Seriously, inspiration hits you when you least expect it! That was 'the moment'. The moment a seed was planted in my head and it began to grow due to an unexpected observation. I'm happy to share my tile picture below.
You might wonder why I'm sharing such a simple anecdote about me standing in a bathroom but the reason is inspiration surrounds you day and night. You simply need to tap into the rich source of objects, people, buildings, art, nature, history and language which surrounds you. For me it can be something as small as a bathroom tile, a man waiting at a bus stop or an annual Christmas tree news report - just some 'seeds of inspiration' which have kick started my muse for previous books.
Two days after the bathroom tile find, I saw a single word - I'm not sharing that but the two made a pairing in my head and by day four of my holiday I had a fully fledged premise for a book. Exactly the same thing happened to me last year whilst on holiday in Brixham and that resulted in my latest book 'New Beginnings At Rose Cottage'. It appears that day four of holidays might be a special day for me and my brain.
As a creative person, I am open to the world around me. I look at the world around me. I see the small detail, which given that I've had duff eyes all of my life means I have to look and observe just a little closer than most. Personally, I think my duff eyesight is an asset because I can't dart through life not looking properly at what is in front of me. I notice things that some others don't see, tiny details, gestures, expressions even sometimes big whopping details which others shouldn't be blind to but sadly, they are.
When I was an aspiring author, I think I wasted effort searching for 'hot' inspiration, making a tough job of it when really, now that I understand how my brain/observations work, I can almost relax and allow inspiration to be delivered to me in such unexpected finds such as the bathroom tile.
Note: when a seed of inspiration comes to me when I'm in the middle of a new book or know that I simply can't use it 'yet' - I note it down in a small book which I have. I tend to date each entry so I can refer back to them when needed for planning an entirely new book or looking for inspirational kick-starts regards plotting.
I will start a proper blog about my new project but let's just say in one week I've written 20% of a new book (whoops, I was supposed to be on holiday). Anyway, the words are simply flowing faster than my fingers can keep up - long may that continue!
Firstly, I have no idea how many parts there will be to this topic. I've literally written it a step at a time as I reflect upon my own journey pinpointing mistakes I made and errors which held me back.
Who knows how many parts - I made many errors!!!
A significant moment for me which I waited too long before arranging was a 'room of ones own' (Woolf). Firstly, please don't take that phrase literally that every writer must have a specific room in which to write but, in general we each need to find our 'spot', a place whether it be the kitchen table, the library, the local coffee shop or yes, like me a writing room of my own. I'm a person who likes to define things in my life (but that's another story).
I used to write in the corner of the dining room on a tiny table. It gave me a 'space' defined by my writing and I would happily sit for hours tapping away on my laptop. I wrote my first book in that corner which took six years so, I'm grateful for that. I couldn't have another spot in the house because I had four step-children visiting and so bedrooms were quite rightly allocated to them for their home comforts, toys, private space etc. You immediately realise that my living space could be quiet and empty with just two adults in the house and then suddenly busy and loud when four children visited for weekends and holidays. A mixed bag around which I would plan my writing.
Anyway, my little formica table, with it's wobble chair, did the job. But the job was made harder by its location - the world and his wife seemed to walk past me via their route to the kitchen. I have to 'pack away' when the dining room table was needed for six bodies. I could hear every TV programme watched in the lounge and, I saw my little corner 24/7 as I moved about the house. When I 'saw it' but was unable to sit at it - I felt sad. When I 'saw it' be didn't want to sit at it - I felt guilty for doing another task. It was as if my little writing table called my name every time I walked past - it wasn't a positive spot.
Roll on a few years, and anyone who has step-children will tell you things change regards visits and whatnots. Anyway things changed and we had less bodies needing our bedrooms at weekends. I claimed possession of the smallest one. I can't tell you how excited I was but I know the date in which I moved in 3rd January 2013! Seriously, it was like a little piece of heaven. Yes, its the box room, the baby room in most houses but it was mine. It had a door, a window and everything! I'm sitting in it right now. I was so thrilled, I even purchased from Ebay a sign for my room then added another sign when I was published (see photos).
My little room has made the world of difference to me. And I understand myself well enough to know it is linked to my psychology. As I said earlier I like defined spaces: writing space, reading chair, yoga space - a colleague of mine pointed out that I always sit in the same seat during our department meetings - yeah, I know, that's me. By now, I'd purchased a beautiful old desk so that took pride of place, I filled the room with bookcases, wicker baskets and writing stuff (which mainly means paper) and lots of stationery (addiction alert to any aspiring author). I thought the main success would be the silence enabling me to write. Wrong. I found that my productivity increased no end not because of the silence and less traffic walking past and bumping me chair every three minutes but the fact that my writing room became like the Narnia wardrobe. Whenever I entered the door, I picked up where I had left off from. Whether it was planning post-it notes scattered upon the floor - which I could now simply leave in position or sitting down to pick up the last sentence. The psychology of entering the room, sitting and doing was a repetitive habit and it worked for me. It still works six years on and after five published books. Nothing else happens in my writing room other than my book writing/planning/editing - oh, and sleeping by my dog, who is usually curled up on the wicker chair.
Anything pinned to the wall, standing on my desk or piled on the floor inspires me to write. I have bric-a-brac objects which I have found and collected so, I have to have a 'muck out' every now and then but the inside of my writing room kind of mimics the inside of my head. If I pause for a minute from writing, view the contents of my writing room something will catch my eye that pushes me to return to the keyboard. I have nonsense stuff around me: a china dog which sat on my nan's mantlepiece, a cotton reel produced by Sylko the colour is called 'Erin Green', a ceramic lion who I call Aslam, a rusty key, a photo of my great-grandparents and a bulbous sand glass all sit before my eyes at this precise moment.
I visit this room everyday. Sometimes I can spend all day in here tapping away on the keyboard other days I am in and out in two hours job done, free to go elsewhere. But my writing room helps me to write. And when I am done, I simply get up, leave and close the door until next time. The beauty being that I don't feel anything negative, sad or guilty about my writing room which is how I sometime felt about the dining room spot.
In recent months, I've stayed at various places and so have had to choose a new spot for a week or two. I have found that the kitchen table also works for me, the local cafe on other occasions. If it is 'your spot' you will sink into that creative zone and be way with the faries in no time. If it's not 'your spot' you can't enter Narnia because you can't tune out from the surrounding noise, bodies and life which is bumping past your chair.
I was about to photograph my writing room but it is requires a 'muck out' so, I can't frighten you with such a sight. I'll simply photograph the top section of my desk instead - chaos!