How a Book Comes to Life (from the perspective of a cat.)

Dear humans,

There have been questions about what is involved with writing a book, and I, your resident Beguiling Tyrant, am here to help you through this journey! Well, as an observer. Or something. Really, we’re just here to make fun of the female as she works and I do whatever I want, which is make fun of her. Or help.

Yes, yes. I’m helping.

In reality, the female wandered away from the glowy rectangle box to give her brain a rest from working, and she told me I could do whatever I wanted.

Foolish human.

She should know better by now.

I’m going to do what I do best and expose all of her dirty secrets. Bwhaahahahaa!

Books are complicated beasts. Everyone writes one differently. The female can’t even maintain consistency when working on a book, either. I wish I was kidding about that. I’m not. She’d probably make life easier on herself if she did things consistently. Apparently, that’s not how books work for her.

Each one is different.

What isn’t different is some core parts of the writing process. At the top of the list is time investment. Books take time to write. If she’s having a super easy, fantastic time, she can write a 55,000 word book in ten days. That’s working approximately eight hours a day.

This is basically if everything is perfect. So, ten days times eight hours a day is eighty hours.

That’s 687 words an hour.

Honestly, to write Claustrophobic (the 55,000 word book under discussion here,) she worked ten to twelve hours a day for ten days. So, that’s about 100 to 120 hours. We’ll call it 110 hours to be in the middle.

What? Did you think she just sat around eating gummy bears all day? I mean, she totally does, but she works her butt off as a general rule.

That’s 500 words an hour, approximately. That’s about right. She likes hitting 1,000 words an hour when she’s ‘in the zone.’ (AKA she can work without interruption, doesn’t have a headache, etc.) She can write up to 2,000 words in an hour, but that doesn’t happen often. 500 words in an hour is pretty average for her. Or 5 hours of 1,000 words an hour sandwiched between research and other tasks necessary to write the book. Whatever. I hope you get it because the female is muttering about how the words are never consistent.

She doesn’t write fast often, but when she does, she can really rack up the word counts. What realistically happens is that she’s writing slowly over a lot of hours.

Here’s the thing with the estimated word counts an hour. Sometimes, the female will work for 4 hours typing a storm, sometimes averaging 1,500 words an hour. She’ll then spend 6 hours trying to figure out how to make what’s going on tick, editing what’s already written, and researching. That time counts, because it is a critical part of her process.

But for the sake of determining how long it takes her to finish a draft of a book to get it to an editor, 500 words an hour is reasonable.

But only if she is typing straight to the computer.

Yeah. That puts a kink in things, because she also handwrites. In bad news, handwriting doesn’t make the 500 words an hour change much. It just adds another draft of a book–unless she got it perfectly right in the handwritten draft. (Doesn’t happen. Ever.)

It takes 1 hour per page to handwrite a book.

Burn, Baby, Burn is up to 44 hours of work on it and she hasn’t even started typing yet. She’s expecting to handwrite 80-120 pages of the story before she begins typing. In good news, she can write longer hours without being as strained following what she’s already handwritten–for the most part. But she still is doing extensive editing work while writing.

So, let’s cut Burn, Baby, Burn to 100 handwritten pages and 125,000 words. That’s a guess. Book could end up being 90,000. It could end up being 150,000. We’re assuming it’ll be longer because it’s really two stories being woven together into one as it features Quinn and Bailey as POV characters.

So, that’s 100 hours of handwriting and 250 hours of typing work, approximately, to bring Burn, Baby, Burn to the editor. Then it’ll take another 10-20 or so hours after she gets it back from the editor to be happy with it. It depends on how many times she re-reads the book on route to publication. It’s 5 hours per read, roughly, for a book of that length. The first read will probably take 7 hours as she reads slower trying to catch as much as possible on the first pass.

We’ll say 15 hours because like the number in the middle.

That’s ultimately 365 hours of work on a single book that she’ll sell to readers for $5.99. (We’re… actually expecting more hours than this, truth be told. Burn, Baby, Burn has been very complicated to write, and some pages have taken her 2 hours, but there have been some that took her 45 minutes, and she’s the kind to try to play down just how much work she puts into something.

Hypnos is in a similar position, but it’s required tens upon tens of hours of research before she could even begin writing it. Those hours hurt, but they were mandatory.

There’s a lot more than goes into a book than just sitting there and typing at the computer.

Then there’s the outlining process if she’s outlining. For Hypnos / Seeking the Zodiacs, the female spent an entire week between books hashing out what she wanted to accomplish in the series. That’s approximately 40 hours of just sitting down and writing ideas without really researching them to see if they were feasible ideas.

We’re not even sure how long Hypnos will be, but the female had already invested some 100+ hours into the book, and that was before she started handwriting anything.

When the female calculates how much a book costs, she doesn’t usually account for the number of hours she invests in writing it. (If she gave herself minimum wage, which is $15.00, she’d be $5,475 in the hole for Burn, Baby, Burn on its release day just from labor alone. She just covers the cost of cover art, editorial, copyright and ISBN registration, advertising, and so on for the cost of a book.)

Now that’s all out of the way, here’s the basics of how the female works. Please feel free to include squiggle lines to randomly connect these pieces, as everything up until “Sends to her editor” can happen at different times, simultaneously, etc.

Conceptualization: This is coming up with the idea.

Outlining: If done, this is refining the idea. Not always done. Maybe only done at the end of the book. Sometimes done only in the middle of the book if there’s a spot the female is stuck on. Uhm, yeah. Silly female.

  • Handwriting: If done.
  • Typing: Definitely done.
  • Research: Almost always definitely done. Usually in exhaustive quantity.
  • Editing while typing: Always done.
  • Sends to Editor: Definitely always done.
  • Sends to Proofreader(s): Doooone~
  • Proofreads herself: Doooonnne~
  • Formats: Definitely always done. It’s how she makes it pretty for sale.
  • Uploads for Sale: Yeeeeah.
  • Cover Art: Definitely always done. Whee, moneeey~ but art in exchange for money~~~~
  • Publication: Wooo!
  • Marketing: Fuck.

That’s the ‘simple’ version of it, humans.

I must now give the glowy rectangle box back to the human so she can get back to ‘work’ doing that whole writing thing.

Wish her luck. She’s going to need it today. I licked all her gummy bears without telling her about it.

Leave a Comment:

9 comments
Eleanor Thomas says February 5, 2019

Hi, this is why I read lots of books. I appreciate the work that goes into them. I respect authors for what they can do.

Reply
    The Sneaky Kitty Critic says February 5, 2019

    <3 On behalf of all the authors you support, thank you! (We really appreciate it.)

    Reply
Dawn says February 6, 2019

Wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have a question–where do you find your cover art? Is there an online forum or a place like ebay or ebay itself?

Reply
    The Sneaky Kitty Critic says February 6, 2019

    My cover artists are Rebecca Frank of Bewitching Book Covers and Daqri Bernardo of Covers by Combs. I met both of them on facebook through recommendations and seeing their art posted by other authors.

    Reply
Eileen Troemel says February 6, 2019

I love your list – the editing part is a wash and repeat sometimes multiple times. The comment on Marketing – PERFECT

Reply
    The Sneaky Kitty Critic says February 6, 2019

    Yep. My drafting process involves a great deal of editing and it’s rolled together, so I rarely have to do any rewrite work after I send to my editor. But it’s part of why it can take me so many hours to get a book ready to go to the editor. And then there are as many passes of the book as I can fit in before deadline/over to proofreaders to try to make it as clean as possible.

    And stuff still gets through regardless.

    Reply
Pence says February 6, 2019

Just got the new Playing with Fire audio. Yay. The reader has gotten the accent absolutely right for New York/New Jersey.
this universe (Bookniverse?) is one of my favorite comfort reads. And now I can add it to the comfort listening file too. Thank you.
I have one trivial question I have been itching over on Hoofin It; Did the wine bottle get broken or was it in a protected area inside the restaurant. Trivial I know but I so wanted it to be a family heirloom.
I find the overlaps and differences between this world and the one of the Royal States interesting – how do you keep them separate in your head.
Thank you again for the pleasure your books provide.

Reply
    The Sneaky Kitty Critic says February 6, 2019

    The bottle of wine was safe (it was taken back into the restaurant between pourings) but the wine that was already poured… not so safe. >.>) /mourns the wine

    As for the world building differences, it’s easy for me because the characters and circumstances of their upbringings are totally different. The society wouldn’t work in Royal States if it had Mag Rom Com magic. That really helps keep things in their own little playgrounds.

    Reply
Stephanie says February 8, 2019

I have just started to read blogs online. I read yours and Ilona’s. I was so sorry to hear your human was robbed. I hope the evil thief that posted her work gets permanent hives. May it itch forever.

Reply
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