So, the first question everyone asks when they hear I have a book coming out is, when? Now, although the time is getting shorter (5 and a half months!! Yay!!) back when I first sold I had conversations like this:
Random Person a year ago: Cool! When does it come out?
Me: Not this May, but next May.
RP: Like in two years?
Me: Well not quite two years. Like eighteen months.
RP: Hmm, okay, well, what's it called?
Me: We haven't decided yet.
RP: Ah, so you have a book coming out in two years, but haven't decided what it's called yet. Riiiiiiight . . . . *walks away laughing*
Okay, they don't usually laugh as they walk away, well, not loud enough for me to hear, anyway, but people do want to know, why does it take so long?
So, I hereby present you with . . . the timeline!!! Yay!!! *waits for applause . . . waits . . . waits . . . .* M'kay, moving on.
Nov. 16, 2007- THE Call. My book sold to Tara Weikum at Harper Teen. Yay! Much glee and dancing followed.
Jan. 30, 2008- My first editorial letter from Tara. Note the dates. Two and a half months. Why so long? Well, part of the reason is that Christmas and Thanksgiving were in the middle of those months. But part of it is simply that editors have a lot to do and it takes 20-40 hours to read through a book carefully and craft an editorial letter. (Also, mine was eleven pages long . . . single spaced.:D)
Feb. 24, 2008- I turn in my revisions. Can I just say, some of the hardest three weeks of my life. Editors are fabulous people who will make you write better and harder than you ever have before. This was a very difficult learning experience, but it was a GREAT experience too!)
March 15, 2008- I got my contract! I actually got my contract a little early as six months seems to be the average. Mine was only four! Getting your contract makes everything seem even more official!
March 28, 2008- German rights sell for all four books in an awesome pre-empt the last business day before the Bologna Book Fair. (In fact, completing the deal before the fair was one of the terms.:D)
April 3, 2008- Ed letter number two. Again, over a month to get the second ed letter because editors are very busy!
April 24, 2008- second round of revisions turned in. Not quite as brutal as the first round, but it still took me three weeks. A nine page ed letter this time accompanied by a marked up manuscript.
May 21, 2008- We did a round of line edits electronically. That was fun. It was also fun to have line edits not accompanied by an ed letter this time.:)
June 16, 2008- I went to new York to meet Jodi and Tara and a bunch of the team at Harper Childrens! It was SO much fun and while I was there (the 17th, technically) I did some video interviews that will be used on Amazon.com, Borders.com, and BarnesandNoble.com. This is not something Harper brought me in for, it's a trip I planned on my own. I highly recommend that new authors take a trip in to meet their team if at all possible. Plus, I had a great time! It was my first trip to NYC!
At the end of June we started talking about my cover. We exchanged some sketches, talked about photographers, etc.
July 9, 2008- First cover photo shoot.
July 16, 2008- I get my first blurb. *squee!* (you'll see it on the cover art.:))
July 20, 2008- I get copy edits!
Sept. 12, 2008- I turn in my second book. (Notice how I'm finishing my second book before the first is even close to on the shelf? This is very normal. Timing-wise, if your books are coming out a year apart, you should be getting to about the copy-edit stage when you first book is released.)
Sept. 17, 2008- I get my cover art! . . . and it's not the cover art from the first cover shoot. I find out that they have scrapped the whole first cover shoot and re-done it. So I am presented with completely new cover art.
Oct. 10, 2008- I get more new cover art! No, I'm not kidding. My editor calls me and says, "I have bad new followed by really good news . . . I hope." Now those are words to strike fear into your heart! Sales (i.e. gods of publishing!) nixed the previous cover and so the art department started from scratch. Whole new concept and everything. Luckily, I LOVE the new cover art the best of the three!
October 22, 2008- I get first pass pages. These are your book type-set and actually looking like a book you would find in the store! It's an exciting step! However, it's also a step where you need to be very meticulous as this is probably the last chance you will have to change things. . . but still exciting!!
Nov. 11, 2008- I get ARCs! (Yes, yes, I know! Pictures are coming the moment--the moment!--I get clearance!) There was much dancing and squealing!
Nov. 17, 2008- I receive one final round of copy-edits on the first pass pages. This really is the very last time I am going to work on them.
And that brings us to now. It's been quite a full year! Publishers put so much work into getting your book as right as it possibly can be, that's why it's hard to rush it. And even though the book will, for all practical purposes, be done by the end of the year, they will still spend another four months doing early promotion before the book comes out on shelf. I don't know yet exactly what that will entail, but I do know I will be going on a pre-publication tour to five cities in January, my ARC will be featured and handed out at several trade shows (including NCTE this weekend, yay!), and will hopefully be reviewed by several trade magazines a little closer to the release. So there will still be tone of stuff going on between January and May as far as promotion goes. And, of course, I will be doing edits for book two during that time as well.
So even though it seems like a long time, there really is a ton going on behind the scenes to justify all that time. Publishing is a well-oiled machine, but it does roll slowly, if steadily. But while most of the public just sees that minute hand moving oh-so-slowly, there are a zillion little gears inside, all busily working to make everything look as smooth as it does from the outside.
Thanks so much everyone who partied with me this weekend. I will be sending out party favors tomorrow!