Notes From a Hired Pen

1 big deadline vs. rolling deadlines

So how do you write a book? In fits and starts for me so far. But how do you submit a book? Depends.

For my first two books, which were travel guides, I turned in everything at once. For the first one, the editor did a spot check and read some of the entries to make sure I was on track, but that was it. For the second one, I got a contract and a deadline and just wrote until the deadline came.

A memoir is a different animal, so I’m working on a different schedule. I just turned in chapters 1 and 2 today. With my editor, we came up with rolling deadlines through March 30. Then we’ll take the month of April to do any revisions and edits, fill in any gaps, and then revise the entire thing as a whole document vs. the chapter by chapter edits we’ll do along the way. Then we’ll be done on May 1.

With the travel guides, I needed less input because I was writing what I’d been writing for years – short entries about where to go and what to see. The difference was there were just a lot of them. Memoir is different and new and a little scary, and I feel better revising along the way instead of getting a dump of notes about what needs to be changed through the whole book at once.

These deadlines breaks the work up into chunks. I would have set deadlines anyway for myself, but it’s different when another person expects you to meet those deadlines. This is a very short timeline for a book, and I refuse to miss any goals, so I think this is going to work out well.

(Though come see me on Feb. 15, the day before the next set of chapters is due and I may have a different feeling about the process).

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