I’m often asked how long it took me to write Stellarnet Rebel, or when I’ll be “done” with the sequel, Stellarnet Prince. My friends and family are probably tired of hearing me say “I’m on a deadline.” But writing is a series of deadlines, and it never really ends.
I began writing Stellarnet Rebel in May 2009. Some writers will say they can write 3,000-5,000 words a day. Others will claim to have finished a book in a weekend. Hurray for them. I wrote in my spare time — maybe an hour or two a day, if I was lucky — and I did a lot of research. I wrote 95,000 words within eight months and finished the first draft of the book in January 2010.
But, at that point, Stellarnet Rebel wasn’t really “done.” I worked with Linda Cashdan to revise. I also worked with my friend and former newspaper colleague Eileen Brady to revise again. Throughout 2010, I continued to revise on my own while I sent queries to agents and publishers.
After sending a query to Carina Press, I added a prologue. When Angela James called in March 2011 with the offer to publish, I had to say, “Oh, by the way, there’s a new opening” … added a year after I finished the first draft.
I went through the revision process again, this time with my editor Alison Janssen (now Dasho). That took a few months of back and forth. She would make notes and changes, I would revise and return. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
A Carina Press copy editor did a pass through for style, grammar, punctuation, etc., and returned to me to read one last time. So, yet another deadline to work on any issues raised by the copy editor.
Stellarnet Rebel was released on January 2, 2012. From start to finish — from the first time I sat down to type about the characters to the moment you could buy it on Amazon — took about 2-1/2 years.
It will be about 2-1/2 years for Stellarnet Prince, too. I began jotting down ideas for a sequel in 2010, while still trying to find a publisher for Stellarnet Rebel. Carina Press sent me a contract for the sequel in late 2011 and I finished the first draft in April 2012 for publication in November — talk about working under pressure!
Writing a book doesn’t end with the final chapter of the first draft. There’s the deadline to finish the second draft. And the third. There’s the deadline to add a new chapter because my editor wants to see what actually happened when the Glin kidnapped a Tikati detainee from a human military base. The deadline to turn in the “Art Fact Sheet” which helps the cover artist and marketing department. The deadline to read and revise the “cover copy” — the summary of the book cover that is supposed to entice readers.
My latest deadline was for a “final read” of the copy editor’s changes to Stellarnet Prince, my last chance to notice any misspellings and to make any (minor and/or necessary) changes.
Stellarnet Prince is now in production — being turned into a pdf and epub file, prepared for Amazon and Nook, and entering the marketing phase. But I’ll still have work to do. I’ll have deadlines in the promotional process — writing blog posts, doing interviews, sending out advance copies to reviewers, and more.
Meanwhile, I’ve begun book three, and I have several other works in progress. Which means even more deadlines. Such is a writer’s life.
– J.L. Hilton
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