A week in the crazy life of an author, part 1

Writer's FrustrationWriting takes precedence over everything. My daily writing goal is 1,500 words per day, six days a week. I always strive to do more, and often I do.  On the seventh day, I write my blogs for the week.

However, this schedule goes out the window when a new book is published. The weeks before, during, and after a book release are nothing short of crazy-making. I kept a diary the week before the launch of The Goddess’s Curse, my new fantasy/sci-fi romance, to chronicle what my work life is like.

I am usually at the computer by 5 or 5:30 a.m. and work until about 4 or 5 p.m seven days a week – but with breaks in between. I have a tacit agreement with my husband that I will quit work by 4 or 5 p.m., so if I have a middle-of-the day appointment that cuts into my work time, I can’t play catch-up in the evening. However, if there is something urgent, I’ll make an exception.

The week I chronicled coincided with the change to Daylight Savings Time and  the start of physical therapy for a torn rotator cuff. I live an average of 45 minutes from anything in town, so any errands or appointment cost me an hour and half in drive time, plus the time required to complete the errand itself.

 Sunday, March 8

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00014]I’m starting to worry. The Goddess’s Curse is supposed to launch next Sunday, March 15, but I’m still waiting on round two of edits from my editor. The Goddess’s Curse then has to go through copy editing/proofing/formatting before it can release. It’s still possible to make the deadline, but it’s going to be tight. If I reschedule the release, I’ll have to reschedule my virtual book tour, involving more than a dozen authors and bloggers. I email my editor for an update, and email the first hosts of my blog tour to let them know I may need to reschedule.

An author I know had asked me for a non-promo guest blog so she could focus on her writing (ha ha ha ha), but she’s a friend, so I accommodate her, and pull a blog from 2011. I update it a little and send it off.

After yesterday’s writing session of 1,800 words on Rod and Cane 6, I’d hit a mini roadblock, and I wasn’t sure how to get from point A to point B. The solution comes to me while I’m in the shower, and I’m dying to write it, but I have to work on blogs for the week, and get started on The Goddess’s Curse promo. I feel like everything is backing up.

NaughtyWords600x900I write and schedule three blogs for the week, visit twenty Weekend Writing Warrior blogs and comment on fifteen of them. I complete that in the morning. I’m supposed to meet my mom (who lives 45 minutes away) in the afternoon for some mother/daughter time. She wants to shop for a new dining table. We get into a little tiff on the phone when I suggest we meet at the store rather than me pick her up to save time. “Why do you have to keep writing so many books,” she says. “I never should have moved here.” “You have time to go to California” (a nephew’s wedding at the end of the month that’s been on the calendar for a year). I cave and pick her up, we go shopping, and she buys her table. She’s happy. I come home, finish up my blogs, then make dinner.

After dinner, I check email. I got the edits from my editor, so I spend a hour or so doing the easy fixes, leaving the ones that tax my brain for the morning. My editor assures me I can meet the release date for the ebook—but the print version will have to be delayed.

Losing an hour with Daylight Savings Time didn’t help my schedule today.

Monday, March 9

I’m at my computer by 6 a.m. I check email, check my book stats, and finish the edits for The Goddess’s Curse. I realize I must have been really tired last night because what seemed challenging then, seems pretty straightforward now. Besides the edits, I add the front matter and back matter, and send it back to my editor. At 8:30 a.m. I have breakfast, spend a little time talking to my husband, and take a shower. I ask him if he’ll make dinner tonight. He agrees.

I head back to the computer by 10 a.m. From the latest edited version of The Goddess’s Curse, I extract the excerpts for my spotlight blog tour posts. I compile and email my posts to the first five blog stop hosts, leaving a note to myself that they still need buy links when I get them. At 11:30 a.m., I get the idea for this blog, and write it up to this point. I do that, then I fill out the form to get an IBSN for the print version of The Goddess’s Curse, and email the number to my editor. I break for a 20-minute lunch at 12:30, then hit the computer again to knock out 1K on Rod and Cane 6. At 2:30, I have to leave for my physical therapy appointment. I get home at 6 p.m, have dinner, watch a little TV, call my mom, then retire and read for a while.

Wednesday: Part 2 of A week in the crazy life of an author

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20 Responses to A week in the crazy life of an author, part 1

  1. The good news about living so far from things is you can listen to audio books on your drives! I used to do that when I lived in Denver and often, you’d see me in a parking lot or on my driveway listening intently to a scene from a book…it made the rides better.

    I was just telling my husband I haven’t written something new in what feels like 2 months. I agree when releasing a book, all schedules go out the window for a few weeks. I always think I’ll have it better organized the next time but pretty much I never do… Glad to hear it’s not just me!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’ve used audiobooks on long car trips, but not for short ones.

      I feel guilty when I can’t make at least my minimum word count goal, but it’s unrealistic to expect that one can write every single day. Besides promotion, there is also revision and editing when you’re not adding to word count (often subtracting from it!).

  2. Roz Harrison says:

    Goodness Cara, I’m tired just reading this lol. It was an interesting insight for me as a non – author into the time and work involved in publishing and promoting.


    • Cara Bristol says:

      The best is yet to come! Wait until part 2 & 3! It was a crazy, crazy week–but typical for a prelaunch time. When I’m in between book launches, it’s not this crazy. It’s much more routine.

  3. Livia Grant says:

    You’re scaring me. I am excited to have a lot of releases in the coming months. I’m so behind already. Question. Is the week before a release of a self-pub book significantly worse than a traditionally published book or it’s about the same? Enquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Marketing and promotion is the same whether you’re traditionally published or self-published.

      In traditional publishing, you won’t have to worry about uploading your book anywhere, and chances are, your publisher will have sent you the final edits long before the week prior, so you won’t be dealing with that. However, that “extra” time will still be taken up with other things. The more you can get done before a book is published, the better off you are. But a lot of stuff can’t be done until the last minute–such as sending out and updating all the buy links–which takes a surprising amount of time.

      What backed things up with Goddess was Naughty Words. When my editor would have been working on Goddess, I asked her if she could squeeze in Naughty Words (published Feb. 23), which she did.

      This week was a little more frenetic than usual, but the week before, during and after a launch are always super busy.

  4. I admire your discipline. I am easily distracted and allow other things to de-rail my good intentions, then I get resentful. Nice, huh?

    I can picture the whole interaction with your mother.

    Consistent word count is the key I think. I get these grand ideas that I can write 3 or 4 thousand words in a day, but that rarely happens and if it does, it doesn’t happen again for several weeks (or a major deadline).

    I have learned that errands or lunch dates in the middle of the day seems to zap the whole day for me so if I can, I get together w/friends for breakfast or dinner so there isn’t the big chunk taken out in the middle of the day.

    Looking forward to seeing how the rest of your week goes.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’ve learned that too–about middle of the day appointments. Alas, “lunch” tends to be in the middle of the day. When I can, I schedule appointments for 3 p.m. By then, my brain is getting tired and I’m ready for a break anyway.

  5. love this post! When are the other post installments coming?

    • Cara Bristol says:

      On Wednesday, March 25. The final one will be Friday, March 27. In the sidebar, just below the Naughty Words photo and above the Comments is a signup where you can receive email notification of my blog posts.

  6. I’m looking forward to the rest of this article.

  7. I have to comment again on this. So 1500 words works out to about 4-5 pages 6 days a week. You’re a full time author, correct, Cara? This has the wheels in my head spinning, wondering if I could write full time…? I guess there’s only one way to find out, and that’s by jumping. LOL! Anyway, thank you so much for posting this, Cara. This was so interesting and informative. Everyone sees the success of an author. They never see the amount of hard work put into becoming successful. It’s really an eye opener when I think about it.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      1,500 words is 6 pages (250 words per page) so that works out to 36 pages per week, if I write 6 days. There are many days when I write much more, even double,but it depends on what’s going on in the rest of my life and how the words flow.

      I’m a slow writer–I write about 500-750 words per hour. I participated in National Novel Writing Month in Nov. 2013, wrote 50K in one month, and produced Terran (Breeder 2). As it happens, 50K tends to be my sweet spot, length of most of my books. So if I really humped it and did nothing else, I could whip out a rough draft in a month. It usually takes me about 6 weeks to produce a rough draft.

      When you have an outside job, the lines of demarcation are clear. You work at work, and when you come home, you’re done. At the office, you only focus on work–you have to do all your personal business on weekends.

      When you work at home, you have much greater flexibility, but work and home tend to bleed together. Personal tasks cut into work life, but work also cuts into personal life. You do a quick email check in the evening–and an hour and half later you’re still on the computer.

  8. S.J. Maylee says:

    Such a great post, Cara. I felt the craziness of life that I’m so familiar with. I’m working hard on my writing and I’m working hard at my evil day job which is luckily at home. My precious time doesn’t get eaten up with commuting, but sometimes I think it would be much better if I did work in an office so I can have those clear lines of demarcation. I’m not sure how you do it all. I’m not sure how I do what I’m doing either. Wait. I do. We love to write. 🙂 Looking forward to the next post!

  9. I love this conversation! I admire you all with your balance and your work ethic!

  10. Laurel Lasky says:

    My goodness. I belong to the procrastinating club of America. I haven’t been to a meeting yet. Maybe tomorrow.
    I think I’ll finis your post later. Yawn, nap time, lol

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