A Week in the Life: 7 Days Behind the Scenes with Savannah (March 2024)

A Week in the Life: 7 Days Behind the Scenes with Savannah (March 2024)

In today’s episode, I’m taking you behind the scenes with me throughout my entire work week, and I’m going to share with you what I’m working on, what big projects I’m focused on right now, and basically, anything that happens during the week, including any fun or interesting insights that come up as I work with other writers. I did a few episodes like this last year, and I got so much feedback on these episodes—I heard from so many of you that these are some of your favorite episodes, so I decided I’ll do one about once a quarter this year. 

And personally, I love doing these kinds of episodes because I'm always curious to see how people set up their day, what they're working on, and how they choose what they're going to actually work on that week. So, I thought you might be curious to know what I do all day as an editor and book coach—what I focus on and how I navigate through many, many, many action items. So, that’s what this episode is all about. And without further ado, let’s dive right in for a Sunday update!


A Week in the Life: 7 Days Behind the Scenes with Savannah

Sunday Update

Okay, so this is my first entry for our behind-the-scenes podcast episode, and it’s Sunday evening, which is when I normally sit down with my planner and take a look at everything I have coming up this week. I won’t go too deep into this since I talked about it on the last behind-the-scenes episode, but basically, I like to know what’s coming up or what’s on the schedule just in case I need to make any last-minute changes or you know, troubleshoot something before the week gets too hectic. 

So, that’s what I just did, and this week is kind of a mixed bag, to be honest. I have a lot of different stuff happening, from recording a few podcast episodes to meeting with a few of my private coaching clients to attending some online classes because I love learning about stuff. This week in particular, I’m taking a 2-day online course from Laura Belgray, who’s sharing a behind-the-scenes look at her most recent book launch, which I’m really excited about. I’ll probably talk about that more on Wednesday or Thursday. The other one I’m going to is a one-hour training with Amy Porterfield, who I just love for all things marketing and online business, so I’m really excited about that one, too. 

The other fun thing I’m doing this week is giving a presentation for ProWritingAid’s Romance Writer’s Week—so, I am doing that tomorrow, on Monday, and I’m going to be speaking about writing interiority, which is one of my favorite topics, so that will be really fun. I have two live Q&A calls on Thursday—one with my Notes to Novel students, so shout out to all my season 4 students, I can’t wait to hang out with you on Thursday—and the other is for my membership. So, my membership, I think I’ve talked about this before… It’s for anyone who has gone through the Notes to Novel program and wants additional community, support, and accountability as they finish their drafts. And each month, we have a live training plus a few different office hours calls where I answer questions and coach writers in real-time, so I’m doing that on Thursday, and I really look forward to those calls too.  

Also, the third Crescent City book from Sarah J. Maas comes out this week, and I am so excited to read that. I’m almost done with my re-read of books 1 and 2, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve for book three. So excited to dig into that this week. And then, other than all of that, I have a ton of other smaller things to do in between those bigger things. So, I will get into more details as the week unfolds, but those are kind of the big-picture things I’m looking at this week. 

And I’m going to end my Sunday update there because I need to make dog food! If you’ve heard any of these behind-the-scenes episodes before, you know I home-make my dog’s food every Sunday evening. I follow a recipe from a company called Just Food For Dogs, and all three of my dogs are absolutely obsessed with it. This week I’m making the turkey macaroni recipe, so it’s pretty much what it sounds like—five pounds of turkey, some carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cranberries, and whole wheat macaroni—all cooked together in an Instapot with some fish oil, and this nutrient blend powder just to make sure they get all their vitamins and minerals and things like that. But yeah, my dogs love it, no matter which flavor I make, and it’s not that hard to cook. Takes me about 30 minutes to make their food for the whole week. 

And it’s so funny, every time I mention making food for my dogs, I get so many messages about it asking for more information (which I love, I love that so many of you want to make your pets food too), so if you want to check it out, I will put a link in the show notes or you can just go to savannahgilbo.com/foodfordogs (all one word, food for dogs) and take a look around. 

You can buy pre-made frozen food, or you can do what I do, which is get the DIY recipe, the fish oil, and the nutrient blend and then make your own food, so you’ll need to buy groceries and have a way to cook it, but it’s not as hard as it seems. Like I said, it takes me about 30 minutes now, but it used to take me a bit longer in the beginning when I was learning the recipe. So, one more time, if you’re interested, go to savannahgilbo.com/foodfordogs all one word or click the link in the show notes to browse around and learn more about feeding your pet delicious fresh food. They do also have food for cats, so cat lovers are welcome to check it out as well. 

And yeah, that’s what I’m doing this Sunday evening—cooking for my dogs, and then I’m going to finish my re-read of the second Crescent City book so that I’m all prepared when it comes out later this week. I’ll be back first thing tomorrow morning with a Monday update, so I’ll see you then! 

Monday Update

Good morning! It’s bright and early Monday morning, and I’m here to update you on what I have coming up today. For me, Mondays are days that I work on my business. Sometimes that looks like recording podcast episodes. Other times that looks like doing a bunch of admin-type work. It just depends on where I’m at in the month. 

So specifically today, I know that there are two big things I need to do. I need to craft some emails for the Women In Publishing Summit, which I'm speaking at in March. So I need to get those emails written and scheduled and things like that. Then, I also need to do some work to get ready to present at that summit. So that involves things like putting together a presentation and then some random admin stuff like they need a bio, they need a headshot, and things like that. So I'm going to take care of all of that today. 

The other big thing I'm working on in terms of my business is I’m really trying to grow my email list this year, and one of the ways I’m planning to that is to be a guest on as many other writing podcasts as possible. So, I am creating a list of 50+ podcasts that I would love to be a guest on, and then I need to pitch each one of those podcasts to set up some interviews, hopefully. Not all of them will say yes, and that’s okay, but I need to get some of those pitches out, and that takes a lot of time and focus. It’s really important to tailor a pitch like this to each individual show and host and to properly express how I think I can add value to their show and things like that. So it’s a time consuming process, but worth it in the end. 

And then I have some other random stuff to do that I will catch you up on at the end of the day. So, I hope you have a good day today, and I will check in later today with my Monday evening update!

Okay, I’m back, and it’s Monday evening now. I did finish some of my big “to do” items—I got the emails done for the Women In Publishing Summit, and I crafted a few podcast pitch emails that have officially been sent out, so that’s exciting.  

I also had to spend some time planning out future episodes of the podcast, which I actually love to do. So, I have this running list of topics that people have requested, and I kind of run through that list plus take into account anything I’ve been seeing around the internet—like if there any questions that stand out or topics that I want to talk about that are timeline—and then I also think about the writers in my Notes to Novel program or my private membership to think about what kind of episodes would best serve them. 

I think about all of that and then come up with 5-10 topics for the next handful of episodes, and then there are a bunch of action items that come with that. So, if I’m planning to interview someone, I have to reach out to them, set up a time that works, prepare for our interview, and things like that. If I’m recording a solo episode like the one I’m recording right now, I have different action steps. 

So, like I said, I laid out the next 5-10 episodes and then I looked at my calendar to figure out when I can work on those. And this is really important because I know I have a big project coming down the pipeline, so in order to have the time and space for that big project, I need to get the next 5-10 podcast episodes done relatively quickly, or sooner than I’d get them done if I didn’t have this big project coming up. 

So, I had to figure all of that out, and I did. I feel pretty good about where I landed with the plan, at least. Things always change when it’s time to execute plans, right? But for now, I feel pretty good, and I’m excited about some of the upcoming episodes.

And then, after that, I went through my inbox and replied to a bunch of emails because Mondays are always busy inbox days. So, that’s really it for today. I got done what needed to get done, and I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m at. Now it’s time for walking the dogs and dinner and stuff like that, so I will sign off for today and be back first thing tomorrow. I’ll talk to you then!

Tuesday Update

Good morning! I’m here for a Tuesday update, and this one is going to be quick because my Tuesdays are all about client work. So, I have some calls today and tomorrow, and then when I’m not actually talking to my clients, I will be working through the pages, giving them feedback, and things like that. 

So, that’s what I’m doing today, and I did want to mention that (at the time of this recording), I’m not currently taking on private coaching clients. After I do an episode like this, I always have people reaching out asking about my availability, so I just wanted to throw that out there. If you want to work with me on your story, the best way is through my Notes to Novel program, which I will link to in the show notes. Okay, so I’ll be back later this afternoon with another update on how everything went today!

Hey there! It’s Tuesday evening now, and I had a really great day of client calls. I really love all my private coaching clients, and I truly get so much joy from talking to them and helping them with their stories—it lights me up. But I wanted to share some things that came up today that I thought were interesting. 

So, first of all, a writer I worked with last year reached out to me because she was having trouble querying her story. So basically, she had been querying, and she’d had five full requests and four partial requests but no offers of representation. So, she wanted me to read through the draft to see if I could identify anything that might be turning agents off of her story. 

And the reason I’m telling you all this is because if you ever find yourself in this situation, you can kind of triage what’s happening to figure out what to do next. So,  what I’m going to do is look at her materials in the order an agent would read them to see if I can identify where the problem is. 

For example, I might read her query letter, and it might promise a different kind of story than what’s actually in the manuscript. Or it might make the story seem to have rich conflict and stakes, but maybe the manuscript doesn’t quite live up to that expectation. I don’t know yet. I haven’t gone back through her pages since initially reading her draft years ago. But I expect that I’ll find something that doesn’t quite match between the query and synopsis that’s pulling those agents in and getting to the result of five full requests and four partial requests and her actual story. It could just be a problem in the opening pages—maybe agents like the story from the perspective of the query or synopsis, but the beginning is too slow. Who knows. So, I’m going to dig in and see what I find, and you can do this same kind of exercise.

But also, about a week and a half after sending me her pages (before I even started reading them), she got an offer of representation from one of those agents. So, there could still be a mismatch between the query or synopsis and the manuscript—and this agent might be willing to do the work with this author to fix that mismatch—or there might not actually be a mismatch, and it just took this long for the right agent to read her story. It could go either way, and I still haven’t read her draft yet, so I can’t say for sure either way, but I do think it’s interesting how much can change overnight. She went from reaching out to an editor for a second opinion to having an offer of representation in about a week, week and a half. So, just goes to show how fast things can change.

But anyway, the other thing I wanted to share with you is that another writer I’m working with is working on two stories at once. And people ask me questions about this all the time, like… Should I only work on one thing? Is it okay to have two different projects going? Or what do you do when you have a new idea for a story while writing another one? And things like that. As with most things, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, but I did want to tell you what this writer is doing because I think it’s interesting. 

So, basically, she finished the first draft of a fantasy novel and put it aside to let it marinate. She knows some of the things she needs to do in editing but hasn’t read back through the draft and dove into the edits just yet. In the back of her mind, she’s had this other idea—a YA romance novel she wants to write—and so once she put her fantasy draft down, she gave herself permission to outline the YA romance. She really wanted to get all the ideas out of her head and into some kind of outline, so that’s what she did. When I talked to her today, she told me it’s actually really nice to have two different projects going because sometimes she doesn’t feel like outlining, and revising feels like the easier thing to do. Or vice versa. 

So, I thought this was interesting, and I think where a lot of writers go wrong is when they have two projects in the same phase as each other. What I mean by that is like trying to outline two books at the same time or trying to revise two drafts. That would be super hard for most people’s brains to handle. But because this author has two novels in different stages of the process, it actually allows her to use different parts of her brain on different days, which I think is really cool.

So, anyway, I just wanted to share those two things that came up today. And I feel like this has been a super long update, so I will cut myself off there and see you bright and early tomorrow morning for another update.

Wednesday Update

Hello and good morning! It’s Wednesday now, and I’m really excited about what I have on the calendar today. First, I have a call with five other book coaches to check in and talk about business and things like that. It’s always so fun meeting up with these women because we all became certified coaches together, and over the years, we’ve kept in touch, which is really cool. So, in these calls, we catch up and brainstorm things or troubleshoot stuff that’s coming up and things like that. I’ll update you on what we talked about once I come back for the evening update, but that’s what I have first thing this morning. After that, I’m going to attend a virtual class that Laura Belgray is hosting all about how she launched her book, Tough Titties, which I am so excited about. Her book launch was very successful and I can’t wait to see the behind the scenes breakdown of how she did everything. 

I also have a little bit of a selfish reason for wanting to see what she did because I have a book coming out later this year, and I’m hoping to learn from what Laura did so that I can have a great book launch myself. Now, I’m sure you’re like, what the heck is this book you’re talking about!? And I will tell you more about that on Friday because I am working through some edits on it this weekend. So stay tuned for that. After the virtual class with Laura, I’m recording an episode of the podcast with Abigail, so we’re breaking down the first chapter of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and then I have a client call at the end of the day. So, that’s what I’ve got going on, and I’ll be back later with a Wednesday evening update!

Okay, it’s Wednesday evening now, and I’ve got all three of my pups in the room, Luna, Forrest, and Hudson, and they’re going to help me give you an update on how the day went. So, first of all, the class I took with Laura Belgray was awesome, and I got so many ideas for what I can do in my own book launch—again, I will tell you more about that on Friday. But one of the really cool things Laura talked about during the training is what she actually did during her launch and then what she would do differently now that she’s on the other side of her launch. That was really interesting to hear about, and it got me thinking about how, as writers, we can do this exact same thing. So, we finish a book, and then we can kind of debrief with ourselves, right? What went well during the drafting process? What can you do more of next time? What didn’t work out so well? And what do you want to do less of next time? And things like that. 

But anyway, I also had a call with five other book coaches today and it was so nice to catch up with them and hear about all the exciting developments happening with their businesses and their families and their clients. It was really, really nice. So, for a little context, the six of us went through Author Accelerator’s book coaching certification program back in 2018 or 2019, and we were the first cohort to go through the program, so it’s been really fun to see the trajectory of each person’s career over the last 5 or 6 years because we’ve truly all gone in different directions, which is very cool.

The other thing I did today was have a call with one of my clients, and it was actually a pretty easy, straightforward call—not too much to report on that. She’s almost done with the edits on her draft and ready to move into line editing, so that’s always super exciting. And then Abigail and I recorded an episode of the podcast. So, that was pretty much all of the stuff I had to get done today… and then I also got ready for a few calls I have tomorrow. So, I have two Q&A calls tomorrow—one with the students in my Notes to Novel class and the other with the writers in my private membership. So, I’m all ready for those, and yeah… I think I will go ahead and wrap up my Wednesday update there, so I’ll see you for another update tomorrow morning. Talk to you then!

Thursday Update

Good morning, it’s now Thursday, and like I mentioned yesterday, I’m starting the day off with a Q&A call with my Notes to Novel students, so shout out to everyone in season 4, we are currently in the middle of the 8-week course and we’ve done all the foundational work already, so brainstorming our protagonist and antagonist, choosing our genres and point of view and setting, uncovering our themes, and a whole lot more. And we’re about to dig into outlining, which is one of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) parts of the course. I say nerve-wracking because it’s so easy to second-guess ourselves when it comes to mapping out or outlining our stories, right? There are so many decisions to be made, but that’s why I also love these Q&A calls because they let us troubleshoot things and ask questions in real-time. So, no getting stuck on my watch! 

This afternoon, I have another Q&A call with my private membership, and yeah, just getting caught up on a bunch of random things in between those two calls. So, I’ll be back with an update later this evening to tell you how everything went!

Hello, hello, I am back for our Thursday evening update. Earlier this morning, I mentioned I had two Q&A calls with my Notes to novel students and the writers in my membership—both of those went really well, and I wanted to touch on a few things we talked about during each call. And the first thing I want to tell you about is how, as part of the Notes to Novel course, students can submit their loglines for me to review during any of our Q&A calls.  

So, in today’s Q&A call, there were a lot of loglines submitted, and we spent a good chunk of time looking at those and I provided feedback and suggestions and things like that. But I wanted to bring this up in this episode because this is an exercise I highly recommend you do with your story as well. If you don't know what a logline is, it’s essentially a 1-2 sentence summary of your story—and you can craft it before you’ve even outlined or written a single word of your book. 

Writing it and zeroing in on what your story is really about is already a great exercise in itself, but I also like the idea of sharing it with other people and asking them… Does this sound interesting? What questions do you have after reading this logline? Does anything not make sense? And things like that. It can be a really great way to get an early read on your story, and it can help you identify which areas might need some strengthening or further development, too. So, that was really fun, and I just love seeing everyone’s ideas develop and get sharper and more specific as the course goes on. It’s really very cool.  This is why I always say that even though I’m not taking 1:1 coaching clients right now, you can absolutely get specific and personal help in the Notes to Novel course if you participate in the Q&A calls.

It’s also what I do in my membership, so we have what I call office hours twice a month. So, this is where I literally put pages up on the screen and help people troubleshoot things, or I edit something in real time or coach someone through an issue—basically, whatever someone needs to finish what they’re working on, I help with during these calls. But anyway, today, a writer submitted a short story along with another editor’s feedback and some notes he got from the judges of a contest he entered. And he was kind of like… “I think this works, but I got this feedback and didn’t know how to execute it, so can we talk and make a plan?” And that’s pretty much what we did.  

But what’s interesting is that looking at all of the different feedback he got, there were definitely some patterns. So, one of them was like… readers want to know more about this character’s motivation. That came up on all the different feedback reports. And why I’m telling you this is because the solution was actually really simple. We read through his story, and there were one or two locations where his character’s interiority was missing. So, this is the internal reaction or internal processing the character does in response to something. Basically, all he had to do was add in another 1-2 lines showing his character’s internal reaction or that internal processing, and it fixed the issue. 

So, readers didn’t understand this character’s motivation… The writer knew the character’s motivation… but it wasn’t on the page. And all it took was adding in 1-2 lines of interiority. So, I wanted to tell you this for two reasons—1) it’s sometimes easy to take feedback to mean your story’s broken when it’s not, which brings me to the second thing I want to say, and that is 2) it can be super helpful to have a coach or a trusted writing buddy in your pocket to help you look at the feedback and your actual pages and help you create an action plan. Sometimes, the solution is easier than you think, but it’s hard to see when you’re in the weeds. And it’s funny because as I’m saying this, I’m getting a strong feeling that someone out there needs to hear this, so if this is you, let me know! 

But anyway, my calls, like I said, they went really great. I get really energized after, um, spending time with my students. It's so fun to see stories develop from little nuggets of an idea or, you know, a messy draft that turns into something that is actually getting attention from agents and things like that. It lights me up. It's one of my favorite parts of my job. And it's why I love Thursdays. I love hanging out with my students and the writers in my membership. 

So that's my Thursday update. I'll be back tomorrow on Friday. I'm going to tell you more about this book that I'm publishing later this year and what I have to do for that this weekend. So, I'll be back tomorrow morning with an update on that.   

Friday Update

Hello, hello! Happy Friday. I’m recording my update with all three dogs in tow again, and one of them loves to dream and yip in his dreams when I’m recording things, so prepare your hearts for that. I don’t have any calls today because Fridays are kind of my catch-up days or days when I finish big projects and things like that.  

And speaking of big projects, I am writing a book that is going to come out this year. It’s an analysis of the first Harry Potter book—so it’s a craft book for writers that’s going to dig into the big picture and the small picture to find out why and how this story works so well. And very long story short, I am working through some edits today and all throughout this weekend. So that is my primary focus today, along with some miscellaneous admin work to get some things wrapped up for the week.

Okay, friends, I'm back for a Friday evening update, and like I mentioned this morning, I was working through the edits of my Harry Potter analysis all day today. I’m at the point where my eyes feel crossed, and I can’t look at the text anymore so I had to walk away and will pick back up in the morning. As writers, I know you can 100% relate to the feeling of staring at a document for too long and realizing it’s time to take a break, right? Well, I am definitely there. But I do have to say, the edits I’m working through are very fun. Abigail K. Perry who you’ve heard on this podcast before is actually my editor for this project, and she’s a super Harry Potter nerd like me so it’s been really fantastic to have someone care just as deeply as I do about doing this story justice through our analysis. So, I actually love reading her feedback and implementing her suggestions. 

I know you probably want more information on what this book is and all the details, but you’ll have to be a little patient with me and trust that when I know more, I will share more. This project is something I started 5+ years ago, and it got shelved for various reasons but is now coming back into the spotlight. So, I don’t have a ton of details yet, but if you want to be the first to know more information about this book, add your name to the waitlist here. I’ll also send you a playlist of all the first chapter episodes Abigail and I have done for the books in the Harry Potter series. The book will be very similar to the analyses that Abigail and I have done for the first chapters, so this can be a little sneak peek for you.

I am going to be working through these edits all weekend. And then I know I have multiple other rounds of edits ahead of me. So, this is why I was saying back in my Monday update that I had to make space for a “big project”. If I hadn’t taken the time to make time and space for it, I would feel super overwhelmed, and I’d be all over the place, probably dropping the ball on many different things to accommodate the workload. But because I knew it was coming, I was able to stop and re-evaluate what’s currently on my calendar and carve out the time to work through the edits. So, this is why it’s really important to a) have some kind of calendar or planning system to keep track of everything, and b) be realistic about your time. Otherwise, any unplanned opportunities or conflicts cause problems and really mess with your productivity. 

So, anyway, that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend, and that’s the end of this “week in the life episode.” I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride this week—I know I sure had fun. I got to share some things with you that I typically don’t get to talk about on this podcast because I’m usually talking about how to write, edit, or publish a book, and it was just fun taking you behind the scenes with me and sharing some of the things I don’t get to talk about much. So, I hope you enjoyed the journey with me, I will be back next week with another new episode, so I’ll talk to you then.

Savannah is a developmental editor and book coach who helps fiction authors write, edit, and publish stories that work. She also hosts the top-rated Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast full of actionable advice that you can put into practice right away. Click here to learn more →