I know I'm not on here much with just general writing stuff, but I had written this up for someone in my local writing group and was encouraged to post it on my blog, too.
I don't think it's a secret for most of you here that I self-publish. With the release of LANCE, that was my eleventh self-published release. And I've discovered that there's a certain method/timeline that I have to work with after I've finished that first draft (which honestly is about the only fun step of this process...LOL...that, and getting that first print copy in my hands.)
So here is MY timeline for all the steps needed after I finish my first draft.
NOTE...this is my process, but tons of other people do it differently. This is just what I've found works for me so that I get the best, most polished novel I can into readers' hands.
Timeline for Publishing...
Disclaimer...this is entirely from my experience self-publishing. I’m about to publish my 12th book, my 11th one self-published. This is DEFiNITELY NOT the only way to go through the process. It’s just the way I go through it.
Steps in publishing:
1. Alpha reader...ideally this happens while you are writing the first draft of the book. An alpha reader reads as you write and gives feedback about what’s working and what’s not. This is a huge benefit, because you know if the story is working well or not. Ideally this person should be a writer too, so they understand the nuances of writing and weaving story lines. The other added benefit is that if your story is really good this person will push you daily to write faster so they can read more of the story.
2. 1st Draft done... you need to walk away...at least for 2 weeks or more so that you can get some separation from your story and not be so emotionally attached.
3. Rewrite time... One week to a month or more...First thing you need to do is read your book as a reader....and take copious notes about what needs to be fixed. Then you need to set about fixes. Honestly, through this process you will need to read your book at least 10 times. It’s a painful, painstaking process of fixing your book.
4. Betas... When it’s as polished as you can get it, now you need to send your book to betas. You need to plan them to have it for a minimum of two weeks. Ask for specific and general feedback. The more feedback you get, the better your book will be. But I’ll be honest here...this isn’t going to be as harsh as you need it to be. No one likes to be mean.
5. Rewrite time #2...plan on a week or two to go in and fix the things that the betas pointed out.
6. Reread the entire book again as a reader...and polish even more.
7. Developmental Editing...this is the first editing pass. You should plan on the editor taking a minimum of 2 weeks to a month to get your book back to you. It’s going to be painful...I mean like curl up in a ball and swear you will never call yourself a writer again kind of painful. For me, I have to let these edits simmer 2-3 days before I can mentally handle taking them on after I read them.
8. Apply 1st round edits...And then it will take me a week or two to apply them all (for an 85k book).
9. Reread and do final prep for second editing pass. At this point you may want to hit up more beta readers to see if the story is working if you had big developmental editing changes.
10. Final edits...plan two weeks for the editor to have it and then another few days to a week to apply those changes.
11. Reread one final time. You’re down to the wire now and this is when everything should be looking super-polished. If it’s not, then you have more work.
12. Proofreading...this needs to be done by someone who’s anal and has NEVER read the story before. If they’ve read it, they will skim. It can’t be helped. Plan for this person to have your book 3 days or longer depending on their real life and reading speed.
13. Final fixes. This should take an hour or less. See #11
14. Formatting for print and ebook. I do this myself so I only have myself to determine how long it takes, but if you send it off, again, plan on a week or more for someone else to fit you into their schedule.
All told, I plan a minimum of two months for this process from the time I finish my first draft...and that’s if I feel like the book is fairly polished and ready. It’s much longer and much more difficult if it’s not. Also the longer the book, the longer all these steps take.
I also like to have EVERY part of it complete at least three weeks before my release date so I have time to get it into reviewers’ hands and upload it for pre-order (which has to be done at least 10 days out.)