There are a lot of things nobody told me about writing a middle grade series. NOT that I would have passed on the opportunity if I’d known, but sometimes, it’s good to know what you’re getting into!
At first, things moved at the normal pace of publishing. (Think: glacier.) Shortly after the contract, the editor who acquired my book and two sequels retired. It took several months for the publisher to assign me a new editor, and I had plenty of time to write the second book and even revise it a couple times – all while working the day job.
When my new editor sent me her revise letter last spring, we had several intense weeks, but still managed to turn the book in for copy-editing on time at the end of June. Since I’d already written the second book, I had the opportunity to tweak details in the first book to set things up for #2. Summer vacation arrived; I was off school and spent my time leisurely revising Book 2 and pondering Book 3. I turned in the second book in August and started working on the third, naively believing I would get it done before I needed to look at #2 again.
That didn’t happen. I went back to work in September and was almost immediately hit with: a) the galleys of Book 1 for review and b) an edit letter for Book 2. I’d only made it halfway through Book 3 – and was struggling with it – when suddenly I had to find time to work on three books simultaneously, while still keeping up with my full time teaching job.
There may have been a small panic attack at this point. Unlike Jax, my main character, I did NOT have an extra, secret day of the week to get this done!
I had to parcel out my time selectively. Book 3, which isn’t due to my editor until next April, was the first thing I cut from my schedule. I wasn’t going to have the luxury of completing it before revising Book 2. I closed that document on my desk top.
That was a big thing for me.
Then I took on the proof-reading. Reading your own work printed up all pretty is a lot more fun than revising. I read the galleys, beginning to end, and laid them aside.
Next, I accepted that Book 2 needed a new first chapter based on my editor’s excellent notes. I wrote it and revised/polished/revised/polished until it looked halfway decent.
Then I returned to the galleys of Book 1, read completely through them a second time and MAILED THEM BACK. That’s it. My work on the first book is done.
Now I’m digging into the other revisions for Book 2, having cleared my slate of everything else but the day job. (Let’s not even talk about the mental gear switching that takes place when I go to work every day and have to think about teaching instead of these books!) I’m trying not to worry about next spring, when I’ll need to finish writing Book 3 while gearing up for promotions on Book 1.
If my publisher picks up their option for two more books, this super-fast treadmill of multiple, overlapping projects will continue into the foreseeable future. (To quote George Jetson: “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”)