Those who’ve followed me for a while know that the quadrilogy I’m talking about is my Urban Fantasy series Infernal Hunt.
Ok so technically, I haven’t published book 4 yet, that’ll be published in November. However! Given it’s currently being edited and the cover art has been commissioned, I feel pretty good about writing this post.
First up the timeline!
November 2015 – Wrote book one Infernal Ties.
November – December – Wrote book two, Infernal Bonds.
February 2016 – Wrote book three, Witch Infernal
March – June 2016 – Edited the first three books.
June 2016 – Wrote book four, Infernal Alliances.
July 1st – Published Infernal Ties
July 8th – Published Infernal Bonds
August 9th – Published Witch Infernal
Late August – mid-October – Editing Infernal Alliances.
Early November – Publish Infernal Alliances.
As you can see I write pretty quickly. Witch Infernal drove me mad because it took six weeks to write. Infernal Alliances was the same for the same reason. It does however take a bit to do all of the professional edits because of my aphasia, I have to have no fewer than three rounds of copy edits. So I suppose it’s all swings and roundabouts.
So how did I do it?
First, let’s look at my writing process shall we?
The writing process for these books.
I’m what I believe the modern term is a Gardener. That is to say that I have some seeds, some core plot points that must happen that I jot down in my planning book. I do not however plan every single scene, or every chapter. I allow things to flow between those points as feels right for the story.
I have tried outlining. I’ve done chapter by chapter breakdowns, I had a very detailed outline that included colour-coding for different scene-types and subplots, for Witch Infernal and I hated it. I had to throw the damn thing away because I got tense and anxious every time I looked at it.
The key here, is that I have experimented quite a bit, these are far from my first books, and I’ve figured out what works for me.
This works wonderfully for me, but it could be absolutely awful for you. With that in mind, I’ll continue.
I only write when I’m inspired, and I refuse to use wordcount goals outside of knowing I want the complete first draft to be at least 55k (I add a good 10k in editing). This means that I don’t allow any stress to build up around my writing. I only approach it when I’m calm, happy, and ready to write. There’s no tension, there’s no anxiety, there’s no pressure. I can breathe and slip into that glorious writing state and write.
That does mean that I can go periods without writing anything, and that’s completely fine. During those periods I’m either editing, or planning, or doing important self-care things such as reading and wandering the city.
But what about the series aspect? Writing a complete series is hard!
I went into this knowing the rough plot arc of the entire series. I knew that it would open with Evie fretting because Quin had vanished. I knew that that would act as the first domino that led to the finale in Infernal Alliances. When I was writing the first three books, I was writing them with the potential for Infernal Alliances to be the final book. I wasn’t one-hundred percent certain though, so I wove in a couple of threads that could have carried over into Infernal Blood, and Infernal Hound. They would have been books five and six, had I have decided to continue the series arc on from Infernal Alliances.
So I went into this knowing my broad series arc. That meant that I could look at the four books and go ‘ok, so we’re at this point of the arc, so this needs to happen here.’ That gave me my one or two line summary for each book.
This is where it got a little bit tricky. I’ve tried to write this series so that readers can finish the series at any point. Both Infernal Ties and Infernal Bonds work as standalones. I didn’t want to deal in big cliffhangers and risk irritating my readers. I wanted to be very sure that every book was a complete arc, and should people so choose, each book could wrap up the series to that point.
I did that because I know that a lot of people are like me, they’ll read one, two, or three books in a series and then meander off to do the same with another series. I don’t want to get burnt out on one series, that’s even more true if I really love it. I hope that by writing the books the way I have people will feel satisfied no matter where they choose to pause, they’ll feel good and have happy feelings about me as an author.
So this is getting a bit rambly…
I wrote each book knowing how it would add to the complete series plot arc. That allowed me to build on each book and hopefully lead to a satisfying conclusion.
What about the editing?
That was just bloody madness. We edited the first three books in the series over three months. The timing was insanely tight, my poor editor worked himself to the bone. I had to do one of my developmental passes in just forty-eight hours. Word fucked up and lost a 6,000 word bridge (I have an old and low quality laptop), so I had to rewrite that amidst the chaos and mayhem.
When I didn’t have any edits that I needed to go over I was doing my marketing plans and my own freelance editing.
We pushed really hard with the editing, we were pulling fourteen – eighteen hour days, six days a week, to try and pull everything together. We will not be doing that again. lol.
I couldn’t have pulled it off with a different editor. Fortunately I know mine very well, we’ve worked together on a good number of books. He knows my aphasia, he knows my quirks, my writing style, and that makes life a million times easier. Hiring a good editor is an absolute must. They’re not cheap, but a good one is worth their weight in gold.
And the publishing bit?
I set the dates that I wanted these published in January. That was really important. Having those hard dates to work to kept us going and pushed us on during the cold, dark times of exhaustion. I wanted the first three books out before my 30th birthday. We got the first two out, and book three on pre-order.
I got the cover art for the first three books nice and early, I think that was in November. That meant I could show them to people and look at the pretty wonderfulness when I started to wonder wtf I was doing. I commissioned the cover for Infernal Alliances last month and I’ll get that in October. I like to have covers at least two weeks before publication.
The publishing itself wasn’t bad. I formatted the books in Scrivener which is quick and easy. Amazon KDP makes everything simple. I’d planned out my keywords and written my blurbs months in advance. I booked in what little promotion I did two weeks ahead, I only did a small site and they don’t tend to book very far out. So that bit was probably the easiest bit!
In summary – the final summary.
- I understood my own writing methods and what works best for me.
- I planned ahead with the entire series arc so everything fell into place and there was no wasted time scrabbling to make it work.
- I planned ahead with my marketing and cover art.
- I worked with a fantastic editor who knew me and my methods. Someone who really helped me and was willing to push hard to get this done.
- I worked insane hours and was willing to really push to hit my deadlines.
The final book in my Infernal Hunt series will be published in November. It’s been one hell of a ride and I’ll be a bit sad to leave these characters. If you’d like to grab a copy of these books you can do so on Amazon, they’re free to read in Kindle Unlimited.