The Final Finality of Finalness
There are a lot of steps from first draft to published - maybe more than you think!
As a writer, the initial step is completing that first draft. For me, so far, this has never taken less than a year. THE BOOK OF KELL took several years. That's a dangerous path to travel and one I hope to avoid in the future. If you lose the thread of the story, particularly a story with mystery elements, you can screw up the whole flow - from major continuity errors to less egregious (but still pernicious) flaws like using the word "former" three times within two paragraphs. (d'oh!)
But that first draft is likely far from ready to be submitted to the publisher. I'll review and rewrite my first drafts many times before I deem the work DONE and suitable for publication. That was late summer of 2018 for THE BOOK OF KELL.
But is it really done at that point? Nope. The editor will do her review and then send those changes to me. I'll look over her suggestions - accepting some, declining others - and, in the course of revisiting the manuscript for the first time in many months, find other changes I want to make. (and this involves wrenching my mind away from novel #5 and plugging back into the world of novel #4 - always a jarring shift of realities for me) Then it's back to the publisher after I've carefully, painstakingly, double/triple/giga-uple-checked that Everything Is PERFECT Now.
Done? Surely you jest! Because two days after that email goes out, I wake up in a cold sweat realizing I TOTALLY MESSED UP ON PAGE 38 - IT WAS A WOMBAT, NOT A WALLABY! (just kidding about the marsupials, but I did realize there was a big bloomer that absolutely HAD to be fixed - something 90% of readers would never catch, but I would know as would the 10% with the specialized knowledge of this particular thingamabob)
Thank goodness that did get fixed. Done now? Nooooooooo. Now it's off to the proofreader who may have some suggestions for me to review. I make my decisions on those and it's back to the publisher yet again.
One more step to the finish line: my review of the PDF for any eleventh hour corrections. (and there were - dang that multi-year writing process) But that's it! Now it's truly done done DONE. Done. All that editing shrunk the story from 99,482 words to a taut and muscular 97,504 - and that's a good thing!
Whew. What a ride! I can't wait for Publication Day on 02/15/2020.