For those of you who like data…

An author friend of mine was interested in what was involved in my first novel effort. I guess, to compare with what she was putting into hers. Here’s what I sent, along with some additional information.

I started DoaCK on March 7, 2015 (I date a lot of documents just for these reasons).

I submitted the first 50 or so pages to Tor/Forge on 7/23/2015; it took them 243 days to say no.

My aunt, who was in the publishing biz decades ago, convinced me the cost of an agent (e.g., 15%) would be paid back in higher negotiated advance, so I decided to query.

First queried on 10/29/2015; she got back to me in only 4 days. She was the only one who asked to see anything, but it was queries for future work.

I sent out my last query on March 17th of 2015 and that agent got back the same day with a ‘no.’ In total, I queried 26 agents. Of those that got back to me (11 out of 26, or 42%), the average response time was just shy of 7.5 days. Several got back to me the same day, but four took 38 days or longer (one of those took 48 days).

After many months of fruitless query-ing (e.g, no MS requests), I decided on getting independent input and, perhaps, some professional editing. Note that this is BACKWARDS and you should do your editing first.

My notes tell me I had 34 different people read various versions of the novel (over close to two years), paying 11 of them a total of $727.

Jun 24, 2016 contacted a developmental editor to get on his schedule ($750).

Aug 29, 2016 sent him the work.

Oct 22, 2016 got his initial feedback and started the exchange of notes.

Mar 16, 2017 sent him my updated MS for his critique (another $350).

Apr 12, 2017 got his comments back.

May 3, 2017 sent it to line editor, after incorporating everyone’s suggestions to that point ($425)

May 15, 2017 got it back from her.

September 19, 2017, after incorporating the line editor’s input, I sent my MS to a proofer, $105.

Oct 2nd 2017, she got it back to me.  I have yet to incorporate her changes.

Sept. 22nd, 2017 I contacted a cover artist, as at that time I was intent on self-publishing.  She gave me a steal at $100 for the design.

We went back and forth, refining the design, until 10/11/2017, when I soured on the whole idea of writing novels and told her to stop her work (we were in the midst of discussing how to tie the covers for the series together visually).

My notes say I’ve spent a total of $2,457 on book one (I’ve paid for a lot of betas), plus $314 on book 2, $285 on 3 and an additional $22 for someone to review my short stories for a grand total (that I’ve managed to record) of $3,078, with no visible signs of publication yet. I’m sure there are a couple of hundred bucks of other expenses (Tor wanted paper, for instance and I think I spent $50 or so on a contest that went nowhere).

I made a serious effort to track the hours I spent working on the novel.  I’m sure I missed a lot, but my records tell me I spent a total of 126 hours writing or editing (I never tracked time just daydreaming).  The total word count is just shy of 80K, for a calculated WPM, after all has been said and done, of 10.54 (I love spreadsheets!).

I started writing books 2 and 3, as well as a series of short stories, while I was waiting for feedback on this novel.  I believe I have more than 260K words written in this series.

The thing about this business that’s been hardest for me to adapt to is how bloody long it takes for anything to get done. I’d read somewhere that, for a conventionally published book, 24 months was considered lighting fast to go from concept to bookstore shelves. The reality is it usually takes at least a year longer for the writer to write and the editors to edit and the writer to make changes. This is when there’s already a contract with the publisher and checks already cashed. Had I continued to self-publish, I would have been ready in the November 2017 time frame, or around 33 months, assuming my math is correct.

Author: mitusents

Biochemist, MBA, then programmer. Now novelist, screenplay writer and hopefully director. What a strange trip it's been.