Spoiler alert: a lot.
How long has it been? Looks like my last post was in August (and even that, I remember, felt like it took days to put together between other tasks).
I credit several reasons for that, but most tie back to: selling your (first) book is work. It’s all uphill to this point, right? It should get easier once you’ve got your foot in the proverbial Publishing door, right?
Quoth the raven, “Nopenopenope.”
Here’s a glimpse at some of the blur that’s been going on off-screen this last year or so. Note towards the end of the year I started to lose track of what round of edits we were on and exactly which other tasks fell between them—everything ran together!
JANUARY 2016. Near the end of the month, my first book sells. Also my second (unrelated and unwritten, but same contract).
FEBRUARY-MAY. Peaceful quiet period in which my editor is working with her other, earlier pub date authors. I have time to read 1-2 books a week, work out every other day, sleep well, eat three meals a day, think and dream and outline what I hope will be my next project with said editor. Heaven is a quiet inbox.
END OF MAY. Receive my first edit letter. 13 pages. I know my work is cut out for me, and my editor graciously grants me a couple weeks to digest feedback and form a game plan.
I spend all of it taking apart my book and stitching it back together.
JUNE 14. Phone call with editor to discuss revision plan. Goes well; we’re really on the same page.
I start revising as soon as we hang up.
JUNE – AUGUST tasks:
- Revision. Must complete ~1.5 items each day to make deadline.
- Author Questionnaire (a packet the publisher sends you to fill out to help them promo the book)
- Cover discussion
- Contracts (with Penguin Random House and my first foreign sales) coming in to read and review
- Deal announcement
MID AUGUST. First revision due. After two months of massive cuts, rewrites, rearranging, and 100% new insertions (with 12 days left over to read the new product from start to finish and edit), I hit send and lie down forever.
SEPTEMBER? This is where things start getting hazy. I get another edit letter and only 20 days to do the entire revision – none of the plan-forming time I’d had for the first round and not even enough time to re-read through the changes before hitting send again.
Also going on:
- Cover discussion
- Book 2 discussion – including finding out that the idea I’d spent most of spring planning and researching would not make an ideal sophomore to Book 1, so back to the drawing board. Begin Stress of the Century.
- Book 2 brainstorming in the 10-ish days Book 1 is not in my court
OCTOBER. Subsequent revisions? Cover things? Maybe we’re starting to move more into line edits now? I don’t even know. I look outside and there are leaves on the ground. When did THAT happen? Where did summer go???!
New foreign sales, new contracts.
Around this time I join the Swanky Seventeens (2017 group for debut kid lit authors).
Super secret good news that might not mean anything but could mean everything and is pretty freaking cool regardless
The Book 2 stress is real. I’ve got nothing, nothing, nothing.
I should really find a CPA soon.
NOVEMBER-ISH. Starting to home in on a couple Book 2 possibilities. Between rounds of whatever’s going on with Book 1 (line edits? copy edits? First pass?), I back and forth with my agent to discuss them. Agent feels one idea is stronger, asks questions to help me flesh it out so we can send not just a premise, but a few pages (including details as involved as protagonists’ internal arcs) to editor.
I send those off at some point.
By now I’ve asked my publisher how to deal with permissions for lines and lyrics quoted in the book and written to the appropriate rights holders regarding them.
Miraculously, Publishing seems to shut down for Thanksgiving. The holiday is an actual holiday.
I should really find a CPA soon.
LATE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER (not necessarily in order):
- THE YEAR IS ENDING MUST FIND CPA
- first pass
- I want to say this is when I see the book first typeset?—that is, evolved from a Word document to a PDF with real chapter headings and handwriting fonts, etc.?
- Seeing the book in design is awesome, but there are TONS of formatting details that mistranslated or were lost in the move; I swipe through the whole PDF as fast as I can on a Kindle to find and mark them in time to be corrected for the ARCs, make a (24 page?) list, and hit send
- FINALLY connect with a CPA, who directs me to an attorney to help set up an LLC
- set up LLC
- cover conversations with UK team
- Find out JUNIPER will be an audiobook. Woohoo!
- holidays: family visiting
- learn that new Book 2 idea will also not work; back to the drawing board
- holiday homework: 25 queries from copy editor (and a par-tridge in a pear treeeee)
- holiday homework: write 1 page letter to accompany UK ARCs
- actual holidays! I permit myself exactly 2 work-free days in a row to make the most of festivities and family time.
- meet CPA in person
- finish setting up LLC
- UK cover talks resume
- Book 2 conversation resumes; editor graciously grants an open timeframe to ease the pressure of brainstorming (yay and thank stars)
- trying to get myself back into a reading groove of at least one book a week; my reading has really taken a dive since autumn, when a combination of Book 2 stress and edits led to longterm burnout
- a few follow-up queries from copyeditor
- chains of emails on final production details for Book 1: jacket copy, jacket design, handwriting fonts, formatting details, inline visual options
- follow-up on permissions requests
- ARCs arrive!!!
Which brings us to the present! I’ve started distributing my ARCs and am still making plans for others. I’ll be giving away at least one or two, so stay tuned for details!
Since I was given some flexibility for Book 2, I’ve also been making efforts to refill the creative well these last few weeks. That means reading, time to follow curiosity, making art or writing things that are allowed to be pointless, and getting out and going places weekends and wait—what’s that—a hint of SOCIAL life??
But to stay on header topic: it’s been a year since Book 1 sold and it’s still not finished yet. Things seem like they are starting to wind down, but there continues to be more to do every week. And now that we are entering the months prior to publication, I expect there to be increasingly more on the promo side even as the product becomes finished.
I’ll try to post more than once in a blue moon this year to share about the rest of the debut experience!