I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. A ‘shoot for the stars’ type of person. Pointing this out does feel a little redundant nevertheless, I confess, I’m a tad ambitious. After making this confession, it may come as no surprise to you that I’m attempting to write multiple novels at the same time. I guess right now you’re wondering if it’s possible to write multiple books at once. This blog post was never intended to be a how to style article; but instead, a reflection of the failures and successes in my journey to writing multiple novels at once.

 

How do I define writing multiple books at once?

 

Firstly, it’s important to define what writing means for me. When I think about writing a book, I include the entire writing process from idea to launching a novel on an online retailer. For me, this is writing. The initial creation phase is as much writing as getting my butt in a chair and ‘writing the first draft.’ I want to be clear that I’m not a superhuman writing several first drafts at once.

 

Now, that you understand how I define writing multiple novels, it’s time to discuss my five writing projects and where they are at in the writing process.

 

Press Night

 

Press Night is a short story featuring Sophie Baker. It’s in the fleshing out the story idea into a synopsis phase of the writing process. I came up with the idea to create a series of short stories featuring the supporting cast of the thriller novels. The James Lalonde series has a strong cast of supporting characters and a rich world beyond James’ story line. I love writing these characters so much that I decided to create a mini series of short stories titled Byline.

 

Missing

Missing is a novella in the completed outline phase. It has a well-developed story idea and a smaller cast of characters. It’s a novella within the James Lalonde series. In terms of timeline, the events of this book trigger James’ resignation as editor of the Northampton Post and lead him along the path to New York. Before I start writing the first draft of this novella, I will revise the outline one more time. I want to make sure that I learn from my previous mistakes.

 

Silence

Silence is a shorter novel and the prequel to Immunity. The Novel is in the completed first draft phase, and I’ve just completed the first ever read through. I’ve added room for extra scenes and noticed this novel has a few plot issues. I won’t go into too much detail here. If you’re curious, then check out this blog post, where I discuss why you might not want to write a book in thirty days. I attempted to do this with this novel and learned some interesting lessons in the process.

 

Immunity

Immunity is a 100,000-word novel that is in the revision stage. I’ve almost finished writing the extra scenes for the book, and I’m about to perform another read-through. This process may sound a little exhausting but, I will probably go through several more read-throughs and drafts before passing the novel off to beta readers, and eventually an editor. As I’ve started multiple projects, it’s become clear that I want to create a quality product for my readers. I’m not interested in half-arsing or creating a minimum viable product. My name is going to be plastered across the front of this book, and I don’t want to give people another reason to think self-publishing means bad quality.

 

Abscess

The next novel I started to write is titled Abscess. The novel is in the outline phase. This novel doesn’t have well-developed characters other than the series regulars. I had to stop working on this book after I changed the ending to Immunity. This new ending may mean this book might end up being the third or fourth book in the series. It depends on the timeline and whether my alpha readers believe the plot is plausible.

 

So those are the five writing projects I have spinning on my plate. I know it’s a lot. So, let’s get started and discuss my successes and failures; after all, this is why you’re reading this blog post.

 

The Mistakes I made

I decided to list my mistakes first because this is where I learned and grew the most as a writer. Mistakes can be a beautiful thing, especially when you take the time to learn from them. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need to make them all yourself. You can learn from crazy people like me, who need to humiliate themselves on the internet for all to see. When I reflected over my successes and failures, I realised they could all be boiled down to three things. Yes, just three. So, here are my three biggest mistakes.

 

Mistake #1 – Not Setting a Time Frame
By far the biggest mistake I made was not setting a timeframe. I can’t believe I made this mistake. There’s a part of me that knows better than to do this, but it’s a mistake and a valuable lesson learned. Yes, I did set a few arbitrary dates and made a rough timeline but, failed to consider everything else in my life. But, more on that one later. I never enforced the deadlines or advertised them. Nothing was keeping me accountable. Essentially, the deadlines I set were more like asking a vague question. A super vague one, like this; ‘How long is a piece of string?’

 

The truth is, I’m a procrastinator. It’s my default. I might be a big dreamer but, I’m a little lazy. I allowed myself to become distracted and failed to manage my time well. And, I had many distractions, learning the craft, the business of writing, setting up an author platform. The list goes on and on and on. It’s almost embarrassing. However, I’m getting better and using apps to help me manage my time.

 

Mistake #2 – Not Doing the Most Important Things First
There’s no other way to say this but, I failed to do the most important things first. I allowed myself to focus too much time on the business of writing instead of writing. As I alluded to earlier, I don’t just mean writing but editing as well. The reason for this was two-fold.

 

Firstly, I became overwhelmed by all the information I was consuming. This feeling lead to becoming stuck and not moving forward. Eventually, I had to make some tough decisions about which voices I was going to listen to and who I was going to ignore.

 

The next source of my overwhelm was expecting perfection or getting things right the first time around. Ironically, I didn’t attempt to write the perfect first draft. But, I did try to figure out the perfect way to revise my novel. I spent hours listening to podcasts, reading blog posts and books on the topic. Naturally, each source said something different and often contradicted another. One author would say don’t revise too much only one pass-through is enough. Another author would say work on your novel until it’s the best it can be, then pass it onto an editor.

 

All of this information left me pulling my hair out screaming ‘but, how do I revise a novel.’ Eventually, I developed my Heavy Edit process, and I read the manuscript through multiple times paying attention to a particular story element. I decided that as an unpublished author I need to spend a good chunk of time in revision. Allowing a huge amount of time for revision means not giving in to the urge to prematurely press the publish button. Over time, the rewriting process will become shorter, and I’ll need fewer rounds of rewriting and professional edits. But, for now, this is how publishing looks like for me.

 

Mistake #3 – All Work and No Play
This third mistake is a continuation from the first. I made a work-life balance fail. When I planned out my publishing schedule, I didn’t consider the events that were going on in my personal life. Yes, I didn’t think about how much work needed to go into planning an international wedding. I got married in July in my home town of Brisbane. And, let’s just say that I felt like I needed a vacation from the wedding planning as well as a honeymoon.

 

The truth is I am my most valuable asset, which means I need to balance health and my ambitions. It was super unrealistic of me to manage wedding planning, holidays, five writing projects, two blogs, author platform building, creating youtube videos, and launching a podcast. It was too much work.

 

What I got right

Now that we’ve discussed what went wrong; let’s take a look at what went right. It’s at this time that I would like to point out the obvious. These tips are what worked for me and might work for you. The reason I say might and not will is, no two writers will do things the same way. So feel free to tailor these tips to your circumstances.

 

Win #1 – Write One First Draft at a Time
One of the most obvious things I got right was only writing one first draft at a time. As I explained earlier, I rested the first draft of Immunity as I started to outline and write the first draft of Silence. Over time, I added Abscess, Missing, and Press Night. It would have been impossible to write two first drafts at once because the books are all interconnected. The books Silence and Abscess sit either side of Immunity. Writing multiple first drafts at once would’ve created story confusion and as a result, lead to a much longer rewriting phase. Yes, longer than it has taken me already.

 

Win #2 – Setting a Realistic Publishing Schedule
Upon completion of the first drafts of Immunity and Silence, it became obvious as to how long it would take me to bring my book to publication standard. We’ve all heard that famous quote by Bill Gates, nevertheless, I believe it’s worth repeating.

 

‘Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.’ – Bill Gates
Yes, the same was true for my ability to publish my books by the end of the year. It was going to take me ten months to publish one book. I’m simply not at that stage where I can publish three or four in a year. In light of this realisation, I decided to prepare shorter works for publication between the longer novels. The reason behind this decision was two-fold. I wanted to avoid the Amazon algorithm cliffs and my book slipping into the dark places in the Amazon Kindle store. I also wanted to satisfy those readers who wanted more books more frequently.

 

The truth is, I won’t always take ten months to publish a book. I will get better over time, that’s the bonus you get with persisting at the craft of writing. But, for now, this is something I decided to factor into my publishing schedule.

 

Win #3 – Thinking Long Term
One of the better side effects of the tendency to dream big is, thinking long term. I do set shorter term goals like hitting the publish button or breaking even with book sales. But, I think much further ahead in time. Yes, I confess to setting a goal to making a full time living from my writing. I know this can often be a bit taboo. But, I’m not interested in being a starving artist. My readers will not benefit from a starving artist mentality.

 

To make this bigger goal a reality, I need to start taking action now. As a result, I planned a few email sign-up incentives or freebies for readers who enjoy books within my genre. I think it’s important not only to build a platform but to reward those who support my career as an author and are willing to stick around long-term.

 

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m creating a short story collection to keep readers interested in my story world. I plan to give these away to the email list subscribers on my author website. And, I plan to make them available as Kindle shorts and as an anthology, after the launch of Immunity.

 

Win #4 – Becoming More Self-Aware
Some writers and authors confess to loving the rewriting stage. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I learned that I love the planning and writing stage better than revision and re-writing. This realisation came to me after I noticed my ability to put off rewriting Immunity and diving into creating other books. What can I say? I’m a great starter but a bad finisher of things. This self-awareness lead to me realising the benefit of setting a hard deadline for the revision and re-writing process. But, it took me far too long to set myself this hard deadline. So, I guess this tip was both a win and a loss for me.

 

My Biggest Takeaways

As I look back over my process for writing multiple novels at once, there are four main lessons learned that stand out above the rest.

 

  1. Set a deadline (as if you didn’t see this one coming.)
  2. Manage multiple projects at different stages.
  3. Consider how writing multiple novels at once will affect your writing career long-term. Can you sustain this level of productivity? Or, are you putting yourself at risk of burn out?
  4. Schedule in life events and regular breaks not just work. I know this seems obvious but, if you’re over ambitious like I am, it can be easy to lose sight of these things.

 

Conclusion

As always, I have an important question to ask you. Are you considering writing multiple novels at once? Which one of these tips did you find most helpful? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Thank you for listening, reading, commenting and sharing with such enthusiasm.

 

Your coach,

 

Amelia xx

 

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Amelia

Thriller Writer + Book Coach at Amelia Hay International
I'm Amelia. I'm the author of the soon to be published James Lalonde Thriller Novels. And, I'm a book coach. I help aspiring authors just like you to write and market their books so that they can, create their dream business, build their author platform, and be creatively independent. Right now, I'm editing my soon to be published thriller novels, Immunity and Silence.

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