How to Get Traditionally Published, Part 3
ALL RIGHT. This is the last post on this–I swear.
My usual disclaimer applies here–this is the journey to traditional publication as I know it. I’m basing this on my personal experience and the experience of other published authors I know. 🙂
Also, FYI, the usual time between getting a book deal and your book hitting shelves (at least in traditional YA publishing) is 18 months to 2 years. There’s a LOT that has to happen, and your publisher needs every second.
Now, let’s finally wrap up this multi-year journey. We left off last week with getting our contract from the publisher…
Step 17: Wait a while for your first revision letter. This is anxiety-inducing, but it’s normal. It might take a month, it might take a year (no joke; this happens). Your Shiny New Editor has a ton of things on his/her plate, and he/she will get to your manuscript when he/she has the time.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at one editor’s approach to edits.
Work on something else while you wait. The wait times during your first book will pretty much be the ONLY time in your new career that you will ever have nothing to do. Use this very, very valuable free time to write more books. That said, if you’ve written a series, I urge you to wait on writing book 2 because big plot/character/setting things might change, and then you’ll have written a second book that doesn’t work. Instead, write something completely new. 🙂
Note: You’ll probably get your first revision letter before you ever see you contract. So, step 17 might happen before 16…
Step 18: Revise. When you get your editor’s first revision letter, read it. Absorb it. Scan through the in-manuscript notes (if there are any). If you’re like me, you’ll make a Plan of Attack according to the various changes your editor wants. If there’s ANYTHING you don’t understand or disagree with, say something now to your editor. Do it NOW, not later. 🙂
Your deadline will likely be ~2-4 weeks. Maybe more…possibly less. Here’s author Erin Bowman’s perspective on revising under contract.
After you revise, send it in, and…
Step 19: Wait a while for a possible* second revision letter. As with Step 17, this will be the only time you have nothing else to do. USE IT TO WRITE OTHER STUFF. You will be so, so glad you did. I promise. ♥
*You might not need a second revision letter. It depends on your editor, on how “close” your ms is to where your editor wants it to be, and how much of a time constraint you’re working under.
Step 20: If you do have a second revision letter, revise again. You’ll probably have a shorter turnaround time for this round of edits because these will still be character/plot/setting-level revisions, but it will be more like tidying up a few loose ends from the first round rather than starting all over.
Step 21: Wait a while for line-edits**. And work on something else while you wait. 😉
**If you don’t have a second revision letter, then these line-edits will be your next step, step 19.
Step 22: Edit according to the line-edits. These will be sentence-level tweaks, word changes, possible pacing-type stuff. It’s pretty easy and mindless, and you’ll probably be on a pretty quick deadline (I usually get ~1 week).
Step 23: Wait a while for copyedits. If you want, you could start self-promoting now…or you could use this super valuable time to work on something else. Of course, now that you’ve turned in copyedits, you can be confident your book won’t change too much–so if you have a series going, NOW is the time to start working on the sequel.
Do. Not. Put. Off. Sequels. Seriously–not to sound harsh about this–but you will be SO HAPPY if you dive into book 2 now. It will save you tons of panic and heartache later on down the road.
Step 24: Conduct your copyedits. These are just as mindless as line-edits–possibly even more so–and you might have a REALLY short turnaround time. But like I said, these are pretty easy. If you DON’T agree with a change from the copyeditor, you need to write Stet (which is Latin for “let it stand”) and then explain why you don’t want it changed. Copyedits are tedious, but very manageable.
Step 25: Wait a while for first pass pages (FPP)/Receive ARCs (a.k.a. galleys). If you’re on MY schedule, you’ll get your ARCs in the mail before you get first pass pages…but most people get their FPP before ARCs. Some people even get ARCs before copyedits. It really depends on your publishing schedule and by what date they want to have ARCs to send out to reviewers.
If you get ARCs, then you should have a meltdown right now. Dance your head off and resist the urge to give them away to everyone you know. 😉 The urge will be high–I promise–but you should save your precious ARCs for promotional purposes (giveaways, bookstore reach-out, etc.). Of course, be sure you save at least one copy for YOU. It’s a HUGE badge of honor, dude!
If you get FPP first, then you get to sit down and…read your book all at once. Basically, FPP are printed to look exactly like your final book (you can see an example here). If you haven’t yet seen ARCs, then you should do a little dance now–because this is what your book is going to look like on the inside! SO COOL!
Step 26: Receive ARCs/wait a while for FPP. Basically, whatever didn’t happen in step 25, is what’ll happen now. Woot woot!!!
Step 27: Get your second pass pages. You might not actually get these–it just depends on your publisher, editor, and time constraints. If you DO, they’re just like the FPP, just round 2.
Of course, this is your VERY LAST TIME to read through everything and make changes, so read carefully. Then send it in and…
Step 28: Self-promote like a FIEND. Guys, the reality is that most publishers do very little promotion for their titles. If you want your book to get hype or attention, you need to do it yourself. This is no reflection on the publisher or how much they like yourbook–it’s simply the normal way of life. They only have a small amount of money for promotion, and that money tends to go to the biggest books. C’est la vie, so get promoting, friend!
Here’s a guide I wrote on my own experiences self-promoting (which I should add really paid off in the end).
Step 29: Try not to lose your mind. You will probably go crazy. It’s hard to explain just what this anxiety is like, but it WILL keep you up at night and it WILL make you crazy. Just look at my posts from that time of the year (crazy 1, crazy 2, crazy 3). That will last until your book launches…and probably a few weeks after. 😉 Embrace the crazy, my friends.
And also try to get some sleep. And don’t forget to eat. 😉
Step 30: Your book launches! HOLY MOLY, you need to have a giant freakin’ party for yourself (that is, if you don’t have a launch party, which you can read about planning here). Seriously, indulge yourself today–avoid Amazon, avoid email, avoid the internet in general and PAMPER YOURSELF. (If you can, of course.)
You will probably receive a thousand tweets, a thousand emails, and a thousand messages from other mediums–I promise, it’ll be okay for you to deal with those later. Just enjoy your very special day because you worked SO HARD to get here. ♥
And that my friends, is the long, epic journey of traditional publication–from writing the manuscript to reaching shelves. I haven’t discussed ALL THE INSANITY that goes on behind the scenes (marketing, sales, publicity, design, etc.), but you can read all about those steps here.
It’s a long journey my friends. I started writing Something Strange and Deadly in November of 2009 (right before my husband and I got married, awwwww). I sold it in November of 2010. My book hit shelves in July 2012. That makes a 32-month journey from the day I started to write a book (again, not the first book I wrote, but the first I decided I would try to get published) to the day it released in book stores everywhere. Phew, what a ride!
The truth is, though, that being a published writer is so not glamorous. I have aged a lot in the past 32 months–no joke, the wrinkles have come in droves. Publication has been harder and more stressful than anything I’ve ever done in my life (and I lived on sea ice in the Arctic! so I know about hard).
Heck, even right now, I haven’t left my house or showered in days because of a deadline for book 3. I work starting at 7 AM and don’t stop until 11 PM (at the earliest).
But I love what I do, and all the insanity is worth it to me–even when I shriek at my Muse or binge-eat cheese because I can’t work my characters out of a knot. I’ve always had a thousand stories in my heart, and now I get to pour them onto the page and actually share them with people. It’s amazing and exhilarating and exhausting and heartbreaking…and absolutely perfect. I would not want to be doing anything else.
So there you have it, my friends. So concludes Part 3 in How to Get Traditionally Published. The great thing is that you get to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN when you want to sell a second book/series (minus the get-an-agent-part). Hooray! 😉
You tell me: Do you have any questions? Have you had a different experience?
February 1, 2013 @ 5:21 pm
Thanks so much for sharing. This was so informative.
February 2, 2013 @ 12:39 am
You’re so very welcome!
February 1, 2013 @ 9:23 pm
You are one of my favorite people in the whole entire world for writing amazing posts like this. Seriously, I think that this set of posts from you is very helpful, and I bet lots of people will too! It’s also inspiring, and it makes the whole traditional publishing process look less scary 🙂
February 2, 2013 @ 12:39 am
Aw, Alexa. <3 <3 <3 I am SO glad you appreciate these posts. And I so very much hope we get to meet up at BEA!
February 1, 2013 @ 11:33 pm
“Heck, even right now, I haven’t left my house or showered in days because of a deadline for book 3. I work starting at 7 AM and don’t stop until 11 PM (at the earliest).”
Those lines made me stop and stare at my computer screen. You put so much into perspective by saying that.
You write novels and go through the gauntlet of getting your books published – burning the candle at both ends, meeting crazy deadlines and all that hard work, and you STILL have time to blog about writing, TWEET about writing, host #BAMFWordBattles, answer e-mails from fans and crazy aspiring writers like me, and do it all with a HUGELY positive, inspirational vibe?
You. Are. Awesome.
I hope the next few days/weeks are extraordinary for you and that you kick this deadline’s ass, because you so deserve it!
Thank you, Sooz. Bravo.
February 2, 2013 @ 12:38 am
Ah, you have no idea how much your comment means to me. I am actually going to have to take a break for 2 weeks because I am SO overworked and can’t possibly meet my deadline if I keep blogging, maintaining Pub(lishing) Crawl, answering emails, etc. It’s nice when someone actually *notices* all that I do because sometimes I really wonder if it’s really worth it or not…but then comments like this remind me that is. 🙂 I love helping other writers; I love connecting with readers; I love blogging. It’s worth a few sleepless nights to be able to do all that AND write books.
February 2, 2013 @ 1:41 am
“I’ve always had a thousand stories in my heart, and now I get to pour them onto the page and actually share them with people. It’s amazing and exhilarating and exhausting and heartbreaking…and absolutely perfect. I would not want to be doing anything else.”
I’m going to write this in stone and place it on my desk. Thank you so much for this. It may be a crazy schedule right now but for us (your fans and aspiring colleagues) there is no doubt you’ll make it and book 3 will be brilliant.
August 7, 2014 @ 4:53 pm
Thanks for sharing! I was interested how publishing looks >w<
Only one thing that still looks scary for me is editors work, how much they can want to change in our story?
Also do you think that there is any impediment if someone from another country want to publish book in another place?
And all your For Writters series is so so so helpful! <3 Really thanks for sharing!
Grace M Briggs
October 11, 2014 @ 4:51 pm
This is really helpful. And daunting considering I’m only 5000 words into my novel and having to think about this.
March 23, 2016 @ 4:29 am
I like everything you wrote. Yet seeing the deadlines, wait times and more, I’m also equally terrified. I started writing my book in July 2015 and I’m only at about 78,000 words. I don’t know how you and others do so with such speed.