Nope! LOL. Being a fiction writer certainly isn’t rocket surgery. It’s actually tougher than that. As my kids will tell you, rocket surgery is a level up from rocket science. “It’s super hard, Mom! I mean, like, how many rocket surgeons do you know?” Ha! So true. They got me there.

But as corny as it sounds, maybe they’re right. Rocket surgery is a tough profession! It requires the intellect of a rocket scientist, the unwavering confidence of a skilled surgeon, and the creative mind to envision a silly world where those two things actually exist together.

So why am I bringing this up?

Funny story.

The other day a blogger casually mentioned on social media what us “authors need to do” to write better books. She ranted about all the stuff she just hated about a book she’d just reviewed (tagging the author. OMG) and books in general and then proceeded to try and be gracious by highlighting a few crumbs of goodness in the novel. I laughed at her pickings, not because I’m mean or smug, but because I realized I’m no different with my armchair quarterbacking when it comes to critiquing (with the exception of books).

How many movies have I sat through and said, “Wow. That sucked big time. Can I get my two hours back? Why didn’t they just_____(fill in blank)?” But really, I have no clue how hard it is to actually MAKE a movie. Writing, casting, acting, editing, soundtrack, and special effects. That doesn’t mean all that hard work excuses a sad piece of cinema, but I’m quick to judge and throw around my opinion instead of trying to really understand something I spend so much of my time on.

I watch tons of shows and movies each month, yet I’ve never taken the time to really understand why the end product turned out good or bad. I don’t really understand the ingredients that went in. Yet I spend, on average, 14 hours a week (2 hours a day) watching something. That equals 730 hours a year I spend consuming shows and movies! And I don’t actually know anything about this product? Weird, right?

Going forward, I’m changing that by studying the fine art of screenplays. I won’t ever know what it’s like to make a show or movie (despite my incredible fans’ opinions that some of my series should go on the screen. Thanks guys, I really appreciate the support!), but at the very least, I’ll “get” the process.

And so, for those of you who consume massive amounts of fiction and would like to understand what really goes into this product you love, love to hate, or just hate, here’s a glimpse. Take it with a pail of salt, because every author is different. Our efforts vary just like our books. Also, just know I’d bore the hell out of you if I wrote down every detail so consider this the Cliff’s Note version!

READY to go bananas?


START HERE -> Get idea for story.

Make rough outline to flesh it out.

Is there enough story-meat for a full book? If not, stop or think about a novella. If yes, keep going.

Research if there’s a market. If not, stop. Find another story. If yes, keep going.

Do a rough synopsis.

Decide if you would publish indie or traditional. Me generally indie.

Determine price point based on competition.

Estimate your potential sales based on past sales in the genre or competition.

Subtract cover artist fees, formatting, PR, marketing, personal assistant salary, ad fees, copyright fees, creative editor fee, line editor fee, proofer fee, giveaway materials, postage, and monthly overhead (anti-piracy service, ARC service, website fees, CPA, cell phone, graphics/video subscriptions, Internet, and utilities).

Determine if you THINK you can make a profit and if you can pay your mortgage for 3 months with it. If yes, keeping going. If not, stop. Find new idea.

Come up with a “feel” and hook for the story. (Will it be funny? Dark? Dramatic? One book or a series?)

Do idea-board or more detailed outline. (Make sure there’s a clear beginning, middle, and end that has a compelling plot to carry the full weight of the story. No snoozers allowed!)

Pause. Do I really want to write this book? Do I feel the energy in my gut to commit and make it happen? Yes? Keep going!

Email cover artist to get on her schedule.

Email creative editor (4-6 months in advance) to get on her schedule.

Email line editor (4-6 months in advance) to get her schedule.

Email copyeditor (4-6 months in advance) to get her schedule.

Email assistant and apologize because she needs to get the PR and marketing set up but you don’t have a blurb, cover, or release date just yet. “But soon! I promise!”

[I’m SKIPPING the part where you are still actually writing another book AND you’re in the middle of releasing a book! So you can’t really start writing this NEW book until all that’s done. Plus, you’re on social media for 2 hours/day, dealing with admin work, working on ads, or doing mail outs.]

Work on cover. Must be special. Must tell a story. Must fit genre. Must stand out from the crowd. Must fit branding.

SEARCH FOR COVER MODELS. Critique abs. (SO hard, right!?)

“I wonder if Mimi will pick me for her cover. I think I can help her sell a lot of books!”

Work on cover.

Work on cover. Oh! I think we got a good one. (Don’t forget the print edition cover still has to be done once you have the page count from the finished, formatted book.)



Work on plot for this new book while preparing to publish the last book you wrote. Ugh. Why can’t I figure this new plot out?

Work on plot. Ugh. Does this storyline smell as bad as I think?

Work on plot. Yes! I got the first 1/3 figured out. I also know the ending. Good enough!

Light prayer candle to gods of storytelling, asking for the other pieces to fall into place.

Make lots of Post Its so you don’t forget KEY plot elements, threads, and clues.

Sit down and write NEW BOOK. Oops. No. My brain is thinking about my last book and that really lazy teen who hasn’t registered for classes yet. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Sit down and write. Oops. Dog is sick? Vet. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Sit down and write. Oops. I need to help a family member out. Tomorrow will be a better day. Why did I leave my high paying job in the corporate world again? Oh, because this is funner. Keep going.

Sit down and write. My brain is tired. Need day off. And groceries. Jesus, I’m out of clean underwear and there are 20 loads of laundry to wash. Oh, I work from home, so I’m supposed to wash it all? Okay. As long as you guys fold and put it all away.

Sit down and write. 2 chapters! Done. Yay me! Why is there still so much laundry to do? And did anyone give the dog her meds? Look! The A/C went out! Oh, I’m home during the day so I should handle it? Okay. I guess I don’t want to die in this heat. And since I’m not working because I’m with the repair guy, I might as well fold laundry. And cook dinner. But you guys will do the folding and wash the dishes, okay? What? You have swimming? And kickboxing? Your school project isn’t done? Ugh.

Assistant is wondering when I’ll have the materials she needs to book PR and finish the marketing goodies. Bloggers also need a release date and materials. Don’t forget the banners for all of the social media sites, the countdowns, the giveaways, and book trailers. It all has to be done at least a month before hand.

[IS ANYONE STILL READING THIS? LOL…. I’m exhausted just writing it.]

Okay, so home stretch. 2 weeks to give the book to my creative development editor and she doesn’t appreciate it when I’m late because she actually has a life and other clients.

Sit down and write. 16 hours. Dishes, go to hell.

Sit down and write. 16 hours. Pizza sounds awesome.

Sit down and write. 16 hours. Emails can suck it. They’ll have to wait.

Sit down and write. 16 hours. What is sunlight?

Sit down and write. 16 hours. Have I bathed lately?

Sit down and write. 16 hours. Is this the same outfit I had on yesterday?

Sit down and write. 16 hours. I really need sleep. Maybe tomorrow?


Sit down and write. 16 hours. I think I have draft I can send to my alpha reader. SEND. Apologize for the mess.

Sit down and write. 16 hours. I think have a draft I can send to my beta readers. SEND. Apologize for the mess.

Sit down and edit. 16 hours.

Sit down and edit. 16 hours. Review marketing materials.

Send my assistant ideas for taglines and changes to marketing materials.

FINE tune my blurb. (Yeah, I wrote that somewhere back there.)

Order giveaway materials so the bloggers/my assistant know what we’re giving away.

Get feedback from first readers.

EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Send to creative editor with one hour to spare! PHEW. I can rest now, right? Nope.

Make sure the marketing materials and PR package is all good. Review graphics again.

Start working on newsletter.

Sign up for Bookbub to create buzz.

“So…we’re not done yet?”

Finish newsletter.

Get manuscript back from editor and try NOT to cry.

Oh! Critique partner needs you to read her entire novel this week? Okie dokie! Squeeze that baby in!


EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. Hand book over to copyeditor.

Back to working on marketing and release campaign.

3 days later, get book back from copyeditor.


Send book to proof reader.

Finish newsletter. Answer 300 emails and 300 unanswered SM tags. Sleep? Nope.

3 days later…

Get book back from proof reader. Approve changes. Send to formatter. Upload files to ARC site. Email assistant so she knows is it all good to go. Approve the email to bloggers and ARC readers.

Get formatted file back next day. Send page count to cover artist and apologize for forgetting to tell her I needed print cover this week.

Review efiles. Hopefully no changes. Upload onto Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and iBooks, which needs a separate laptop (which I forgot to charge-Doh!). REVIEW all files once again on the retailers’ sites. Check for bugs.

What the??? Book is supposed to come out in 13 days? Jesus. Where did the time go? AND…I’m supposed to be already 25% done with the next book because my work schedule is tight due to holidays and kids’ stuff. Dear Lord, can I get some sleep?

FINISH paperback and order proofs. Please, God. Let them be okay this time?

And…time to hang with my peeps on social media. Sign 1,000 bookmarks.

RELEASE BOOK! Pray I didn’t make a mistake by spending so much time on this story about a fish man!

Copyright book.

Email Kindle because your page count is wrong.

Get nasty email from FB or Twitter because one of your ads has been flagged as porn. Ugh. Men’s nude chests are not porn. It’s sexy, though! #nipplegate.

Have fun for the first time in months with my readers on line.

Mail out prizes from giveaways. Mail out hundreds of envelopes and answer fan mail.

Try to remind myself how much I love my job as I’m writing a blog post when I really should be past chapter one on my next book.

Oh, and try not to punch anyone who gives me advice about being a full-time writer with two beautiful boys, 3 dogs, a husband, and hasn’t slept since 2001.


(Not really, because once the book comes out, you need to market it.)

“I don’t care if we’re done! I’m taking a nap!”


In short (hahaha), there is so much more to this, but you get the gist now. Just like any working person, authors do all this while overlapping several books and life. All the while, we try to keep the creative brain alive, keep our bodies functioning, and not lose sight of how good it feels when your readers send you emails, cards, and gifts to tell you how much you mean to them. (Thank you, guys. You’re my good juju juice! I love you.)

So, the next time you read a really shitty book, or a great one, just know that there is not one thing a writer does to make a book horrible or great. We make them happen one hour of crazy life at a time.

And now I need to get back to that book I’m behind on.

Hope you enjoy my new release, THE LIBRARIAN’S VAMPIRE ASSISTANT #3.

With Love,


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