Some of you might already know this, but I retired from being a pastor after 25 years last month. But at 53, I'm not ready to retire altogether (not sure I'll ever do that).
Since I finished my first novel, The Unfinished Gift, in 2007 (which came out last year), I've had a growing desire to devote more time to writing. I'd like to do it fulltime, if possible (as most writers do). Both my first novel and the sequel, The Homecoming, are doing well, and my publisher has contracted me to write 3 more books. But the income is not quite there to do write fulltime yet, so I'm working at a local Hobby Lobby part-time to help close the gap.
But I am able to write about 25 hours a week now, which I'm grateful for. This week, I'm starting to get a real sense of the "writing pipeline." I'm talking about the length of time between an author finishing a novel (or...thinking he has) to when it actually hits the shelves, and the kind of things that usually go on behind-the-scenes during this time.
Let me illustrate by talking about what this past week has been like.
Since my first novel recently won 2 Carol Awards (Book-of-the-Year) from ACFW, it's experiencing a surge of interest and sales (yay!), resulting in a lot of email activity. I've also firmed up a number of visits (by phone or in person) with several book clubs who've selected both of my books in November and December.
My publisher just sent me the galleys for my 3rd book, The Deepest Waters, to edit and get back to her in about 10 days. Galleys are a preliminary version of the book, printed like an old-fashioned manuscript, for the purpose of proofreading. My job is to read it over, check for any possible mistakes or small changes, as well as consider any comments from the copy editor.
I also received from my senior editor at Revell the rewrite edits for my 4th book, a Christmas novel set to come out next year. This is the editing stage just before the galley stage. Thankfully, my editor loved what I sent her and only had a handful of suggested changes. I have to get these done and back to her within 2 weeks.
And finally, I'm hard at work writing my 5th novel in between all the other tasks. It's really starting to hum now (at about the 60 page mark). This stage is the purely creative stage of writing and the most enjoyable. It's hard to pull away from this once I start. I can see why writers dream of breaking away to a nice lakeside cabin at this stage. But I'm also glad I have a pipeline now with so many other things going on at once.
Oh, I forgot one more stage on this pipeline...coming up with new ideas for Books 6 and 7. These books are just gleams in my eye right now, but several things are already stirring.