In the Romance industry, an author that turns out 3-4 books a year is considered prolific. Readers crave more from their authors after every book and you know what? There’s another one coming out in two months! Crazy, right? Can you imagine yourself writing 3-4 books a year right now? I can’t. Not with a toddler at home, at least. But I’ve seen Cynthia Eden turn out 9-10 books in six months  with a young child still at home. So I know it’s possible, but it’s not for me right now.
So how long does it really take for me to write a novel I can be proud of? I’ve had a lot of readers ask this question, so on this last book, I kept track of how long it took to complete His Seductive Target [Afterlife, #2].
In order to do this, I use WordTracker (purchased from iTunes, but the basic app is free) and logged my progress every day. In this case study, I’m going to breakdown the month by month journey through drafting this project all the way to the almost endless round of revisions.
Note: This post has been updated to include recent activity on this project as of October 4, 201.
Timeline of His Seductive Target (Afterlife, #2):
December 1, 2013-December 21, 2013
16,000 words. Awesome start, but this always happens when I’m starting a new project. I get so gung-ho, I hardly focus on anything else. I think about, dream, and run through scenes in my head, construct imaginary conversations, and hit the laptop as much as possible so I don’t forget anything. This is the best part to drafting in my experience. The possibilities.
December 21, 2013
Pitched query, first three chapters, and synopsis to editor. This was the first time I’d ever tried to sell a book off of a proposal and nerves definitely got the best of me. However, I knew I’d be waiting a few months to hear anything back and I had the option to withdraw my submission if the twist in my gut didn’t go away.
No progress on book during this time. I mainly worked on finishing another project I’d started summer 2013 [now known as my full-length romantic suspense, Desolation] and submitted that to my editor in full.
My editor loved the first three chapters of His Seductive Target and asked to see the full manuscript as soon as possible.
14,000 words. Not a great start on handing the book in by my self-set deadline, but with the Little Monster sick most of this month, it was the best I could do. Progress is progress, right?
20,000 words. Much better. I took weekends off during this month since the weather started getting warmer and I started training for my half marathon coming up in June. I averaged about 1,000 words a day, which is my usual word count when I’m drafting at a lazy pace and haven’t plotted like I should have.
June 1, 2014 – June 11, 2014
10,000 words. These last 10,000 words about killed me. My original synopsis no longer worked and I had to re-plot and rewrite about three chapters. With this book, I wasn’t able to write linear due to poor plotting, so I actually ended up writing the first third of the book, then the last third, and finally the middle third. These middle chapters of the book are the hardest for me to flesh out and took a lot of patience.
June 11, 2014
Sent manuscript to my critique partner.
June 17, 2014
Received manuscript back from critique partner. No major plot changes, just repetitive phrases, awkward word usage, and small movements that didn’t make sense. Completed edits. Sent manuscript to editor in full.
Withdrew submission after revisions for Her Fallen Protector. Yep, you read that right. During edits for Her Fallen Protector, the first book in this series, my editor and I re-wrote the book four times front to back. It took an entire year and by October 2014, I didn’t have anything left to give into my projects. I learned what it really took to write paranormal romance–romance in general–and discovered His Seductive Target was nowhere near close enough to submission ready. If I wanted the book to be contracted, I had to withdraw and revise, applying the things I learned during revisions of the first book to this book.
October 2014-June 2015
I took a break from the project here. During this time, I also withdrew the full-length romantic suspense I’d submitted to my editor and focused on getting that book ready while I came up with a plan for His Seductive Target. This included pinpointing which chapters needed to go, researching showing vs. telling, and getting my characters GMC worked out.
June 2015-July 2015
Edit_1: Expanded every chapter into one point of view, converted from telling to showing, changed hero’s backstory completely, changed hero’s name, expanded on hero’s goals, motivations, and conflicts, deleted 20,000 words, added 25,000 words.
July 2015-August 2015
Edit_2: Cut overused words, adverbs, and “ing” words. Ensured the book was written in showing instead of telling. Added one chapter to strengthen the romance. Line edits. Copy edits.
Edit_3: Cut overused words, phrases, and actions. Submitted to back to my editor.
After several attempts to reach my editor for a decision on this manuscript (she was super swamped with submissions), I asked for the editorial director to take over. Within one week, she had an answer for me: Absolutely loved the book. Could I rewrite it into shifters instead of angels and demons?
I took a few weeks to consider this idea, but ultimately decided against it. I’d already rewritten so much of the book and I don’t write shifters. I write demons. The editor also wanted this book to start a new series. So I passed on this opportunity.
January 2016-June 2016
I took some much-needed time to submit this book to a few other publishers and see where I wanted my career to go, but in reality, demons weren’t selling. Thus the decision to self-publish this next installment in the Afterlife series, which releases October 4, 2016!
So there you have it, the timeline of the fastest book I’d written (up until 2016). And I’m not kidding. It usually takes me about a year to complete anything of this size (Her Fallen Protector took me three years of drafting and one year of revisions), but I had a deadline. Now that I’m writing full-time, I am capable of amping that production level higher.
Keep an eye out for more case studies coming your way!