The craziest release cycle I’ve ever experienced was for The Conviction. And it was because the theme of the story changed almost overnight in such a way that I knew it had to come out much, much sooner than planned. It’s quite the story that I thought you deserved to hear.
I’ll start from the beginning. I was working on the sequel for The Enthronement and noticed a big problem as I prepared to send it to the first round of editing. It was really long! And not just long, it was big. Like the plot was big. I know my works tend to be on the longer side word count wise as I like to go into detail, and my readers don’t complain ever! (You’re all too amazing for that.) But I was worried that the book felt too bloated. I could even see a sort of story arch end a little before the halfway mark. But then I’d have two books that were too short. Instead, I asked my content editor to help find places where it could be trimmed. She did a great job.
Then comes round two. I apply the changes, do a few more drafts, and still, there’s a nagging feeling it’s too big. I can still see where a break could be made, right after Christmas --- same as before ---but I wasn’t sure how to make all of that into its own book. There was enough content, but was there a good enough theme, satisfying ending, and smooth transitions?
I send the next round to my content editor with the same request to help trim it down. Once more, an amazing job! But something still nagged at me that it’s too big. I decided to voice my worry to my content editor. But she thinks the details I have are needed. It’s not too long, but still, it didn’t feel right. Perhaps it wasn’t too long, but I kept thinking it was too bloated. I was working towards an early 2023 release, and at this point, it’s late September. I have time. Or so I thought.
But as I go through the latest edit round, I can’t shake the feeling it’s too big. The thought, I have two books and not one keeps hounding me. So I went to my content editor again and told her what I was thinking of cutting it into two books with Christmas being the ending of book two. But my problem was I wasn’t sure what theming would help tie it all together to give a satisfying full story. She agreed with being unsure what the theming would be, so for now, I’d just have to work with what I had.
I was worried about exactly how to make the book not feel bloated and was starting to think maybe it was just me. There wasn’t really a problem. Everyone else thought it was fine. It was just me.
It was Mid-October now; I had just finished the latest edit, and I was having a bad day already as I decided to settle into bed to read earlier than normal. I gave up on the frustrating edit for the night, when my phone plays the beautiful little ring that’s my text tone.
I pull out my phone and see it’s my editor with the comment. “You should do it!”
I read the whole message. She’s saying not only does she now think I really should split the book, but it’s almost a must. It’s late, and she’s clearly excited as message after message comes in (which is not normal for her, by the way). She’s excitedly explaining the themes that were already there we just couldn’t see before, and how to expand them, and how much better it will be.
I try to match her excitement. After all, isn’t this what I’d wanted? But it had been a long day and making those changes would be stressful, and I’m already in a mood. Thankfully, she catches on so writes me a one page document explaining her thinking and expressing the hope I will split the book, even though it’s a lot more work she knows I don’t want to do, that I could read in the morning.
But she was right! And I had known for a while that may need to happen, but I just didn’t know how. So I decide it has to be done. The book was already super close to ready to be released. I could make these tweaks. There was only one problem. These changes pretty much made the entire book about the Christmas plot line. How could I release it just after Christmas? I felt it was unfair to my readers.
But then how could I? If you follow me on the newsletter or social media, you know I just made a big move to a brand-new area. And the new day job allowed less time for my author work now I wasn’t working remotely. But I knew I couldn’t let my readers down. This new book had to be ready by Christmas, so they could enjoy its heavily Christmas-y themes for the holiday.
And thus began one of the most intense marathons I’ve ever done! On top of the new move, adjusting to the new day job, and new lifestyle, I had to cram in getting the book ready for all my wonderful readers by December.
I wrote down what I had to and the deadlines. (I think I did this a million times.) There was a lot to do. I had to go back and re-add cut scenes. I also had to add a few new ones. Most of these scenes my editing team had never seen, so I also had to have them ready in time for my whole review team to go over it. But that was only the first step.
Then I had to get the marketing together: title, brand new cover, blurb, ads, and it changed the layout of the entire series! And not to forget the audiobook! So many of my readers are actually listeners who have told me again and again how much they loved my narration and were excited for the next one. They deserved the Christmas treat too. It was so much, but I knew I had to have this Christmas themed squeal come out before Christmas.
(Funny note: There was one other reason I wasn’t too eager to drown in what would become The Conviction. It is Christmas themed. And I love Christmas, but it was only just after Halloween. I’m one of those who says Christmas has to wait until after Thanksgiving. I’d have to dive into Christmas earlier than I’d like. Let’s just hope I’m not sick of it by the holiday itself. 😊)
So in about a month and a half (Mid-October to mid-November) I cut the book in half, added back and wrote a few new scenes, had them edited while I worked on cover and the rest, then I got it all back. I had to format it and get it ready to announce.
And, as of writing this blog, that’s where it is. The book is ready for advanced readers which is the last step before publishing. The audiobook is still in progress. Knock on wood, it’s going well. I’m hopeful it will come out a few days to a week after the eBook and paperback are released. (Again, knock on wood!!)
But I’m really proud of the way the book turned out. I think it’s a better book, better story, and better series because of it. I’m thankful to my amazing editors who helped speed through it! Most of all how my lead editor was willing to listen to my concerns and really think about it. If she hadn’t spotted what I was missing, we’d not have this amazing change that has made the book and series so much stronger! And of course, I couldn’t be more thankful for all of you amazing readers who have kept up and are so eager to hear how Kascia and Gavril make it through the Enthronement.