Saturday, 20 February 2010

Why does it take so long to write a book?

You’re probably all wondering when Katherine’s next book will appear. As I said, I’m not a lazy unicorn so I haven’t been slacking… muses are never idle! But my work is just a small part of bringing out my author's next book. It goes a bit like this:

Year 1 – I find a new idea and bring it out of the enchanted mists. I love this part!
Year 2 – My author writes her new book with my help. This is usually fun, too.
Year 3 – My author works on the book with her editor. I don’t have much to do at this stage so can have a bit of a rest.
Year 4 – The publisher makes the manuscript into a real book. Nothing to do with me.
Year 5 – My author promotes the book with the publisher’s help. I stay well clear, because by then I’m back in the enchanted mists digging around for a new idea...

You don't get to see the book until stage 5, when it (hopefully) reaches the shelves of your local bookshop or library. The reason my author has forgotten the characters’ names by the time she visits your school to talk about it is because she hasn’t visited them for at least a year, and is by then working on stage 1 or 2 of her NEXT book! And that's when everything runs smoothly. If there's a blockage in the system new books can take even longer to appear, and there are quite a few blocks to avoid, such as:

Year 1 – New ideas can hide in the mists, so I only find old and boring ones my author doesn’t like, and then she doesn’t want to turn them into a book.
Year 2 – My author gets “writer’s block”, which is another name for losing confidence in me, her muse. Other blocks at this stage can include divorce, death of a friend, house moving, or lack of money (meaning she has to take time off from writing to earn, beg, borrow or steal some).
Year 3 – A block at this stage is a bit like someone building a dam across the river. You might think your favourite authors just write books and publish them, but sometimes the editor doesn’t like their book when it’s written and doesn’t want to publish it. So we have to go back to stage 1, which is a bit frustrating.
Year 4 – Blocks at the publisher, perhaps a delay in making the manuscript into a book due to illness or lack of staff.
Year 5 – Once the shiny new book exists in a warehouse, there might be a delay in bringing it to the shelves due to problems with booksellers, etc.

So the Muse apologises for the apparent lack of new books from Katherine’s pen, but assures you that new ones DO exist, and will be made available in some form or another just as soon as these blocks are overcome. If you're curious, we currently have three books stuck at stage 3... more details here soon!

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