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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Always have at least two books "in the oven"

"In the oven" has become a humorous euphemism for pregnancy: "Suzie has one kid in kindergarten and one in the oven."  The child has been conceived and is in production, but is not yet ready to make its appearance before the public.

Authors often think of--and refer to--their books as babies.

The "in the oven" image is appropriate for publication as well as procreation.

But unlike a human womb or a home oven that finishes everything at around the same time, the publishing process is more like the oven in a pizzeria. It may contain a dozen pies that will be ready to pop out within anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.

While it's great to concentrate on and finish a book, there are also advantages to having several books in the oven at the same time.
  • If you get bored or encounter a writer's block on one book, you can switch to another and be productive--especially if the other book is in a different genre.
  • Sometimes when you don't feel like writing, you can be productive by editing, fact-checking, finding artwork, doing interviews, planning publicity, or proofreading.
  • One book may suggest another book.
  • One book may influence another book.
  • Something you write for one book may be used in another book.
  • You can write multiple versions of the same book for different markets.
  • A book that's far from completion can become an inexpensive or free preview edition.
  • There is always downtime during book production, such as when you are waiting for blurbs or a cover design or a proof. Use that time to work on another book--a new one or an update of an existing book.
  • The things you learn about the writing and publishing process on one book can improve your other books.
  • It gets you in the mood to think as the operator of a publishing business--not just a writer.
What's in my oven:
  • One book that will be published about 9/1/10
  • One book that will be published about 11/1/10
  • One book update that will be published about 11/1/10
  • One book that will be published about 1/1/11
  • One book update that will be published about 3/1/11
  • One book that will be published about 5/1/11
  • Six books that exist as tentative titles and concepts with no tentative dates.
Keep a list of your titles and subjects and tentative pub dates (and past pub dates). Even writing this blog post reminded me of a book that needs updating. It's 3:12 a.m. Time to go to work--or back to bed.

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