Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Void Between Books

I’m in between books, and normally, this makes me anxious. I feel lost, adrift without a goal. But this time I am enjoying the freedom. Maybe it’s because I’ve set other goals. I am revising my last backlist book so I can get it into e-book format. Now that I’m off my regular writing schedule, I can devote myself full-time to finishing the revision. It’s a long story, over 500 manuscript pages, so it’s been tedious. I have to compare the printed book to my Word file, which does not include the edited version. Besides making these editorial changes, I’m also tightening up the work. It’s amazing the difference a few years of experience makes. I’ll feel a sense of relief when I’m done, but then begins the confusing array of choices re book cover design, formatting, etc. One step at a time. 

Meanwhile, I’ve done a list of suspects for my next mystery. I have already turned in the first completed book in this series. I’m only dabbling at the synopsis for book two because the next couple of weeks will be a washout for creativity. Window installers are here this morning and they’ll be making noise and havoc for two days straight. Plus, we have other events going on that might prove to be too distracting. So it’s a good time for a break. Eventually I’ll just sit down and write the whole synopsis.

And then what? I’ll probably write the first three chapters of this next mystery and then move on to book three in my proposed paranormal romance trilogy. Or I could tackle Smashwords for the backlist book. Or…you see, there’s always something to do.

How do you feel about the void between books? Are you relieved to have reached the finish line and to be mentally free of your project, or does the freedom cause you anxiety until you plunge into the next story?

14 comments:

  1. You've got a full plate of choices, Nancy. For me, to overcome the void between books, I try to start the next project as soon as possible. Like you, I've got a number of ideas circling in a holding pattern. Whichever one has the most pull on my imagination will be the next up. The rest keep circling.

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  2. I turned my manuscript in to my editor and now I'm in limbo, waiting on her edit pages. As this is my first venture into getting a book published, I'm not sure whether I should keep my head in that world for the editing or start my next project. I don't have all the choices that the talented Ms. Nancy has.

    Anybody have advice?

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  3. The last time I had a void, I wrote a YA book on spec since no one was familiar with my YA writing style. It took me two months to write. My agent peddled that to another publisher in a two book deal.

    I tend to focus on my next proposals, now for adult & YA, but I am eager to find the right project to self-pub. I have a couple of finished books that never sold, but they aren't in my usual crime fiction genre and I'm hesitant to invest money in a genre I have no intention of pursuing.

    Bottom line is that I keep writing. I take time off for fun stuff with friends and family when I can, but these are in short spurts. Since I write full-time. I'm pretty flexible on when I can take days off, a benie of the job. I just wish I had more time to write all the book ideas floating in my head.

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  4. Congratulations on your sale, Wanda. That's great, but while you're waiting, I would get on to the next project if for no other reason than to keep your mind busy from the waiting around. Waiting is a major part of this business unfortunately. Plus the break from your book will give you fresh eyes when you see it again for copy edits and galleys.

    Best wishes on your book.

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  5. Finishing a book is a double-edged blade. You feel a sense of relief followed by the realization that you are back at the bottom of the hill, shouldering a large stone once again. It is always at this point when I wish I'd gone into sheet metal bending.

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  6. I'm not a professional author (yet) but I think it's useful to keep two things going at once. Some on this blog have suggested the same thing in other situations. I think it applies here too. Just don't make that second thing too much like the first - in your case that would be another mystery. The second project should be different enough that your mind can keep them separate until you're able to return to the first project. The mind is quite strange in how it integrates some things and compartmentalizes others, but these can be turned to our advantage.

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  7. Hi, I'm back! I had critique group this morning and then my crown fell out and I had to rush to the dentist. I'm just glad it happened before the holiday weekend.

    Joe, I hope you're taking notes on all those ideas in your head. You, too, have the same options.

    Wanda, my advice is to start your next project. If you sell your work, the editor might want to see the sequel synopsis right away. Don't wait around for inspiration.

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  8. Jordan, you wrote a book in 2 weeks? I'm impressed. But you have a point; the Void is a great time to dabble on a new project when you have the chance; to experiment in a new direction.

    John, I love your sense of humor. You are right. Finishing a book brings with it a sense of relief along with a groan that we have to start the writing process all over again.

    Daniel, I do have two things going. I write mysteries and paranormal romance. I've now written two complete books for the romance series with no hits yet, so I've turned to mysteries again for the sake of my fans. I now have two completed mysteries, different series, circulating. That's four completed books!

    So Wanda, you see, I don't sit around waiting for one of these novels to sell. I go on and write the next one...and the next. And even when one sells, I'll be hustling to do the synopsis for the sequel and the first few chapters.

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  9. Two MONTHS, Nancy. Normally books don't come out that fast for me, but I've been lucky to experience twice now where books seem to write themselves. Sometimes the characters resonate so strongly with me that the words just flow. I think it also helped that since I brainstormed that book with my niece and outlined the first 8 chapters, I felt better prepared to write that book before my next deadline.

    I think it's great that you write in more than one genre, Nancy. That's not easy given the two genres you write. Kudos to you.

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  10. Two months is still remarkable, Jordan. I can only sit at the computer a certain number of hours each day. Nor would my fingers hold up under the onslaught.

    As for your manuscripts gathering dust that aren't crime fiction, if you wanted to polish one and self-pub it, that would garner you new readers and feedback to see if it is worth pursuing further. The only money you'd invest would be to get a cover done if you could figure out how to upload to Smashwords etc. yourself.

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  11. Thank y'all for the advice. I'm delving into the ghosts of Sloss Furnace in Birmingham for research. This is a world away from the bicycle story I just finished!

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  12. That's a great idea, Nancy. And since you mentioned smashwords and doing your own formatting, I found a link to several free formatting programs. Media Bistro blog had posted 6 different software packages that sounded interesting.

    http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/six-ebook-formatting-tools_b10435

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  13. Wanda, good luck with your research. Jordan, thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

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  14. Jordan --
    Another good, free file conversion source is Calibre. here's the link:

    http://calibre-ebook.com/download

    As for Smashwords, Amazon & BN, if you have a clean word doc (Smashwords has a terrific tutorial on how to prepare your M/S) they do the file conversions for you. No worries there.
    Good luck,
    David DeLee

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