Believe it or not, that “Contact” tab sees a decent amount of use, which pleases me greatly – I love hearing from folks about my work. Some of it is out-and-out fan mail, which will never ever get old. Some of it is about writing and publishing and requests for advice.
Between e-mail and some in-person questions I’ve received at readings and conventions, it’s readily apparent that there are folks out there very interested in my experiences writing novels and getting them published.
Now, my advice is probably worth that portion of your monthly electric bill used solely to power your computer, but since people have asked, I’ll do what I can. As with so many things in life, your experience can, and likely will, be different.
I’ll be doing a topic every other day for the next week or so. Note that the questions are tongue-in-cheek but also reflect things I’ve actually had folks ask me. With that said, here we go:
How long did it take you to write The Daedalus Incident (or The Enceladus Crisis or anything else)? How many times did you revise it? How should I go about revising? Do you have beta readers? Critique groups? Help me write!
I can’t help you write, you guys. I can only tell you what works for me. With that caveat in mind, I can tell you that the first draft of The Daedalus Incident spilled forth from my brain-things in about 4-5 months, give or take. The same held true for The Enceladus Crisis and my latest, The Venusian Gambit.
That doesn’t count outlining, as I’ll crunch on an outline for weeks beforehand. For more on how I outline, using Excel, check out this post from the wayback machine.
Now, there were seven further revisions to Daedalus before it was done. Two were with me, three with my agent, one with my editor and one with the copyeditor. Basically, I was learning how to write a novel there. For Enceladus, that got cut down to four — two with me, one with the editor, one for copyedit. I’d like to think I learned a few things. Gambit is still in progress.
I did not have a beta reader (someone who reads it before I submit the work to agents/editors/whomever) for Daedalus, but I did send it along to a close friend after it was accepted by my agent. For Enceladus, I enlisted my friend once more, and added another gentleman who gave the first book a good review. This was not because I wanted to hear good things again, but rather that I felt the reviewer really grokked what I was trying to do in the first one, and I wanted to be sure it measured up. (And no, said reviewer recused himself from reviewing Book 2 publicly, as is right and proper.)
I participated briefly in an online critique group while drafting the first book, which was hit-and-miss. I got at least one nifty setting idea from the group, but overall I felt the critiques there were very scattershot in terms of quality. My advice on groups and beta readers is to find readers you really like and respect, who give you good feedback and tell it to you straight, and then stick to them like glue.
Next: Getting an agent.