Insecure Writer Support Group

Or, 7 days away from finishing my fourth round of edits. More on that in a minute.


Big thank you and congrats go out to Mr. Alex J. Cavanuagh and his team for taking IWSG to the next level. If you haven’t read about the big announcement, click here.

Thanks to this month’s co-host  Chemist Ken, SL Hennessy, Michelle Wallace, and Joylene Nowell Butler.

Ok, back to the topic at hand.

Write the first draft – check
Let it sit for three weeks – check
Read through and find the big mistakes (edit #1) – check
Read through and find the big mistakes you missed on the first read through (edit #2) – check
Read through and find the small mistakes (edit #3) – check
Read out loud and find the not so obvious mistakes (edit #4) – Finish in 7 days. 

But, then what?

I love this story. It has consumed all of my free time over the last four months.  I’ve put in the work to turn it into a story that even after reading through it 10,000 times, the parts that are supposed to make me laugh, still make me laugh and the parts that are supposed to make me cry, still make me cry and I can’t wait to see what happens even though I know the ending.

But, is that enough to put it out there for the world to see?

I know about beta readers and critique partners and editors, I’ll do all that, too. What I really want to know is even after all that, will there be a clear sign that let’s me know, ok, publish it?

How do you know when your story is good enough for public consumption? 

The Treason Blog Tour – S.M. Boyce

I really enjoy the idea of using Blog Tour’s as a marketing tool for books.  As you can tell by my blog this week, when I like something, I jump head first into.  So, here is the third of three blog tours that made stops at Sydney Aaliyah this week.  

I am really excited to be a host on The Treason Blog Tour. When Boyce put out the call for tour stops, I replied, but explained to her I am not much into reviews or conducting author interviews, leave that to the experts. What I wanted her to share with you is her timeline from idea to the published product. Welcome Boyce.    

Hey everyone! Thanks for having me. I’m S. M. Boyce (call me Boyce), a paranormal and fantasy novelist and author of the Grimoire Trilogy: a paranormal fantasy series with a bit of romance and a lot of action.

Sydney asked me over today to talk about my publishing process from idea to publication…which is a huge, massive process I couldn’t possibly outline in full detail in the course of a single blog post.

In lieu of writing a thesis (or another book), I will give you the summary of each stage with what I think are the key steps. I also suggest you check out Boyce’s Guide to Writing, a free blog rife with how-to posts, guest features, awards lists, and more to help you learn from the mistakes that I (and other successful authors) have already made.

What You’ll Need

1) An amazing idea.
2) A Critique Circle. In an ideal world, your critique circle is made up of about 3 people you trust and respect to give you suggestions on areas that need to be rewritten.
3) Copyeditors.  They catch the plot holes, motivation errors, and other conceptual mistakes.
4) A Proofreader.  The proofreader finds all the typos, missing commas, and misused words you left in the manuscript on accident. Everyone must have someone proofread their work. More on that later.
5) Vendors. Cover art, formatting, book tours, and a host of other expenses can add up if you’re not careful. You can check out this list of vendors I’ve found helpful to get an idea of where to start.
6) Patience. This ain’t easy, but it is rewarding.


This goes back to the first thing you need to publish a book: an amazing idea.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the best writer in the world…if you have a bland idea, your book won’t sell. Get in online critique groups like Scribophile to learn how to workshop others’ work. Reach out to other authors and make connections. Network. Read technique books like On Writingto learn more about the craft of writing. Daydream and take an idea journal with you everywhere you go to jot down ideas, quotes, and inspiration as it comes to you.


Not everyone needs an outline, but I do. It gives me direction and lets me add in easter eggs, foreshadowing, and greater detail than I would be able to add if I were to pants it.
Here’s a question for the comments: do you use an outline? Why or why not?

Outline Critique

Before I even write the first draft, I sit down with the two people I write for: my husband, and my dad. “The people you write for” is a popular concept perpetuated by Stephen King’s On Writing. The idea is to keep someone in mind when you write your book and think of their reactions to your story as you go through. This can help keep you on task.
I let the men I write for read my outline before I sit down to write. Giving them my outline helps me make sure the idea is worth writing in the first place. Though this means they know what will happen, that’s not always true. I often deviate from my outline as I write, so sometimes they are just as surprised as anyone else when a new plot point develops.

First Draft

It’s going to suck. Don’t worry about it. You’ll fix the weak writing and plot holes in the rewrite phase, but the goal now is to sit down and get it out. If you want more on this step, make sure to check out the technique section of Boyce’s Guide to Writing.

First Draft Rewrites

I never show anyone my real first draft (the one from the previous section). I always re-read and make adjustments to the concept when I find plot holes. There’s still weak writing here and there, and I clean that up before I send it to the copyeditor. But for the first draft, the point is to get the concept and early dialogue/narrative down.

Critiquing Workshop

I send the rewritten first draft to my critiquers when I feel good about the book’s direction. In an ideal world, your critique circle is made up of about 3 people you trust and respect to give you suggestions on areas that need to be rewritten. I have one writer, one book addict who loves my genre, and one of the people for whom I write (hubby dearest).
Give them about two months. If they need longer, look into finding someone else. Whatever you do, make sure you respect them and don’t hound them for the MS back. Get all time estimates before you send the book to them.
While your critiquers are going over your first draft, start creating your marketing plan and contacting vendors. Get a cover artist, proofreader, and all the other vendors you’ll need now. Booking early means you’ll get to do it on your schedule, rather than filling in the gaps in the vendors’ schedules.
Once you have the cover, do a cover reveal and create a page on each of the major review sites for it. Encourage people to add it to their TBR list.


When the critiquers give you their input, sit down and rewrite. It’ll be exciting to see your book developing, but you’ll also get frustrated. Just remember why you’re doing this—it’s fun. Don’t rush or put too much stress on yourself. If this is your career choice, you’ll go through this process plenty more times. You can’t burn out.
Remember that not all feedback is necessarily good for you or your book, so it’s important to learn the distinction between helpful and harmful feedback. Having a workshopping background (remember, you can use Scribophile if you don’t have a local workshop) will help you develop this natural instinct for judging feedback.


You must have at least one professional copyeditor look at your book before you publish. They catch the plot holes, motivation errors, and other conceptual mistakes. I have about 5 in case one misses anything. One is a bookworms and avid reader, one is my dad (the other person for whom I write), two are fellow authors, and one is a professional copyeditor with whom I trade this copyediting service. That is, she copyedits my book and, in exchange, I copyedit hers. It’s a great balance.

Rewrites (Again)

Ugh. It starts to get rough here because you’ve read your book so many times at this point. Hang in there. Don’t rush, and don’t give up.


Once you are 100% happy with your changes, send your manuscript to your proofreader. You can find many proofreaders for about $250-$300, which is reasonable for a 100k word manuscript.
You should also send out the ARC as soon as you’re comfortable with your MS. Including a disclaimer/reminder that ARCs have typos in them might help.

Soft Release

This is optional. I publish the book on all major distribution sites about 2-3 weeks before the official release date—so, when I send it to the proofreader. I don’t tag the book or even link it to my author account yet because it hasn’t been proofread yet. I also order the print proof now so that I can just upload changes once I get the manuscript back from the proofreader.
The whole point of the soft release is to allow reviewers to add their reviews before your “formal” release. That way, you don’t start off opening weekend with zero reviews.
The longer you give reviewers, the more reviews you’ll see before your official release date. It’s a hard balance between just wanting to get it out there and having enough reviews when you formally publish.


Once you get the manuscript back from your proofreader and make the final changes, spread the changes to your eBook and print editions.
Keep in mind that, at the moment, I do all of my own book formatting. Bits of this timeline won’t work if you hire a book formatter…in that scenario, you’d really need to have your final edition before the formatting can happen. Your timeline will differ based on your methods.

Marketing & PR

I recommend you always create a marketing plan before you publish the book…long before. Check out the marketing section of my writing website to get tips and suggestions on what to do.

Thanks for having me today! If you have any questions, feel free to add them below or head over to my writing website to search for the answer. I’m always up for a chat, so feel free to ping me on Twitter, too! My contact info is below. Stay awesome.

About S. M. Boyce

Boyce writes fantasy and paranormal fiction. She’s a sarcastic twit, but she still has friends because some people seem to like that. Her Creative Writing degree qualifies her to serve you french fries, but it helps her write books, too.  She’s currently working on the YA epic fantasy series the Grimoire Trilogy.

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