Behind the Curtain: A Novel’s Publication Schedule

March 2016. Mark your calendars. Okay, plan on marking your calendars. I haven’t gotten around to filling in important 2015 dates, much less thirteen months from now.

 

Well, there are a few I’ve inked in. A series of deadlines, a set of anticipated events, a dream that’s fast becoming a series of To-Dos, as REMEMBERING walks this path toward publication.

 

When I tell people that March 2016 is the publication date, most—unless they’ve gone through the process already—look at me with eyes wide and mouths agape. That long? they exclaim. Why the delay?

 

Oh, there’s no delay. In fact, REMEMBERING is a bit rushed. Most novels run on an eighteen-months-from-contract-signing-to-publication calendar. Mine’s about fifteen. And I’m grateful for each month, week, day between now and launch. Here’s a glimpse of what’s happening, what will happen, and what I need to make happen, in the time I have:

 

Approximate Manuscript Schedule:

First revision back to editor: January 26, 2015

Next edits to me: February 6, 2015

Final ms due: March 20, 2015

Cover for Author Review: probably Feb or March 2015

Copyedits for Author Review: April 13, 2015

Reading Group Guide & Author Q&A: April 27, 2015

ARCs** printed: Early June 2015

Synopsis for Sales: July 1, 2015

2nd pages for Author Review: Late September 2015

Blurbs due: Mid-October 2015

Final Closes to Printer: November 2015

**ARCs stands for Advance Reading Copies, which are sent to reviewers and other publicity/marketing contacts several months before the book is published. From these, cover and promotional blurbs are generated.

 

Last Thursday, five days ahead of deadline, I submitted my first round of edits. I stand back, a bit trembly and astonished at how many story changes I’ve made in these five weeks. Entire chapters eliminated; a character killed off; another just erased, as if he’d never existed; material I wrote a couple of years ago and then deleted—now revived, revised, restored. Names changed, plot points altered. And the revising is not over. A couple of weeks to breathe, to return to TUI, before I receive the next round from my editor. By sometime mid-April, when the copyedits are complete and I’ve submitted a Reading Group Guide and an Author Q&A (a little shiver of delight!), I’ll be released to think about other work.

 

Kinda sorta.

 

In late fall, I’ll begin working with my publisher’s publicist on planning the book’s “launch”—a publishing term I love: launch means the book’s release. I get this visual of a rocket lifting into the sky from a platform of flames, of confetti tossed from the window of a high rise, of a great bird spreading its wings and rising on a current of air. I love the idea of REMEMBERING launching into the world.

 

What I don’t love is the idea of a launch party. I’m an introvert. I hate parties. Do I have to have one? Who’s going to pay for it? What will I wear? What if no one comes? Would you bring your dog so I have someone to talk to? These are the things I worry about at 3 a.m.

 

But of course, that promotion work begins well before next fall. It’s work I must do, work my agent and I will map out together. It’s what I’m most dreading and most excited about. Self-promotion gives me the heebie-jeebies—it embarrasses me terribly—but it must be done. The learning curve will be steep, and my challenge is to find ways to make it thoughtful, compelling, inclusive, fun and sustainable. What excites me is the possibility of engaging with readers, but of course that won’t happen until I actually have some. Sigh. For the time being, I soak in and glean wisdom from writers in a couple of Facebook groups who are in the same stage of publication or a few steps ahead; arm myself with back issues of Poets and Writers, Midge Raymond’s excellent Everyday Book Marketing, and Dan Blank‘s weekly newsletter, and scribble out must-dos and wish-lists, budgets and bios.

 

I remind myself what a gift I’ve been given—this hand on my shoulder that says, “We believe enough in this book that we’re taking it out into the world.” This opportunity to realize a dream.

 

I don’t have to have a launch party. But if I do, you’re all invited!

You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you or bring something back to life.” ― Joanne Harris, Blackberry Wine

One month, four drafts, 1300 pages: First Round Edits
Five weeks, four drafts, 1300 pages: First Round Edits

31 thoughts on “Behind the Curtain: A Novel’s Publication Schedule

  1. Congratulations! I wanted to say thank you for sharing your publication for schedule for Remembering: it is enlightening and inspiring. Then I got snagged on your discussion with” deborahbrasket”! —so thank you for that breakdown, too. Your comments about being open to editorial revisions that allow the reader “to own the story” via your unique writing voice, style and standard of quality are worth considering again and and again. “change it up editing” wants to click the Like button more than once-lol!

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    1. It’s been a shock & learning experience for me to realize how many writers who are publishing a book at the same time as I am don’t know what to expect. I’m grateful to have the publisher I do!
      And this time to learn about and reflect on the writer I am now and the writer I want to be come is invaluable.

      Like

  2. This is so exciting! I love the bottle! Thanks for showing us how being a writer is so much more WORK than creatively putting pen to paper. Quite a business nowadays… Can you imagine writing and publishing as a serial as did Charles Dickens and George Elliot?

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    1. Merci, Sylvie! It’s an exciting process to be a part of . . . daunting, but doable!

      I think social media has opened up tremendous possibilities for authors to connect with readers and promote their work and enormous expectations that they must. The great thing for us introverts is that we can chatter away all day long on Twitter and FB, but we don’t actually have to SEE anyone 🙂

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      1. Ah, thank you, I missed that post. Doh. How amazingly exciting for you. Can I ask what happened to the other five agents you submitted to? Quite understand if you’d rather not say. Your story proves that it CAN happen!!! Huge congratulations and looking forward to reading the book.

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      2. Grinning from ear to ear! Thank you, Claudia. The other five agents–I pulled my mss from four before they responded. The one agent I really didn’t connect with, and almost didn’t follow through in sending an mss to, rejected my mss very quickly, so no surprise and great relief. It was such a gift to have met Shannon (my agent) — I felt an immediate connection and comfort with her. To have met all them, really–it was a great reminder that they are human beings, as eager to find great stories and launch them into the world as we are to write them!

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  3. Wow, didn’t even know you had landed an agent, let alone sold a novel. That’s awesome, Julie! Thanks for sharing the process. So many comments I hear these days are about an agent and publisher doing nothing for an author, and that self-publishing is the way to go, but it’s easy to see from your busy schedule that there’s plenty you are getting out of the deal. Not the least of which is a dedicated publicist. Looking forward to hearing all about your journey. Oh, and I totally relate to the fears about a launch party. Eek! (I’ sure you’ll survive. 🙂 )

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    1. Thank you, Cynthia- here’s how it all happened — a bit of a fairy tale https://chalkthesun.org/2014/12/01/true-story-2/

      There are so many paths to publication now, and so many variations on self-publishing. I’m not inclined to say which is the best- I’m way too new to make that kind of a judgment, but I think no matter which route an author takes, she needs to build her team. That’s a huge task for a self-published author- financially, intellectually, creatively, and I will say that I’m grateful much of that burden is not mine and I can concentrate more of my energy on writing.

      But the launch party. Yeah. That’s on me 🙂

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  4. Thank you for a glimpse behind the curtain. Especially as I’m revising what I hope to be the “final” draft of my novel before sending out queries. The intensity of the edits required makes me wonder if you agree with what the editor wants to see. Do you think it will make the book you wanted to write better, or just make it a different book, the one the editor would prefer?

    I sympathize with the introvert in you, as I am also, and the idea of “parties” or public appearances makes me queasy. I wonder too how much they really help to launch a book or sell copies. How much I wish I could shed the introvert in me sometimes. Yet if I had, I probably wouldn’t be writing novels.

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    1. Deborah,

      I’m so glad you commented. That’s such an important question. I’m sure my answer will evolve as I evolve in my writing, and if I’m fortunate enough to find a publisher for my 2nd and 3rd novels, as my experiences with editors deepen.

      I went into this editorial experience with a very open heart and mind. I know this is my first novel, it’s very commercial (upmarket fiction), and I’m far less tied to the plot points than I am to my voice, my style, and the quality of the writing. I want the reader to own this story, to take these characters to heart, to follow them, perhaps even into a next book. It’s also a very complex plot that takes place in two radically different eras (13th & 20th century France), so I have to make certain my reader is grounded and comfortable in the worlds I’ve created. I trust my editor to know the book’s market and sales potential better than I do and I’m willing to follow her lead.

      So, I was very ready to be challenged by my editor and to have her pick apart plot points and even create holes that I’d have to fill. Having said that, I don’t feel I’ve changed anything that didn’t genuinely need to be done or really, that she asked for actual “changes” to the plot- it was more fleshing things out, clarifying, adding background and exposition. The novel emerged after these five weeks more solid, cleaner, deeper. With each revision, I felt like I was chipping away, uncovering the gem of the story inside. And we’ll see what she says, what the next round brings!

      I know how much I’ve grown and changed as a writer since I first set pen to paper with this novel. I’ve written another since and the revision process will be much cleaner; even rereading my third this weekend, which is about halfway through a first draft, I see a far more competent, confident writer.

      A couple of years ago, at a writer’s conference, I attended a session on revision led by Ann Hood, who has ~20 published novels behind her. She brought with her the edit suggestions/requests her editor had sent after reading a draft of her most recent novel, The Obituary Writer. It was an e-mail, five pages long, single-spaced, from an editor with whom she’s worked for years. Ann said she cried, then got to work. So, even the veterans aren’t free from the endless process of revise revise revise.

      Peace to you and GOOD LUCK- please keep me posted!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How many times can I push the “Like” button? I want to pound it for a while after reading this post! Julie, this is such an exciting adventure you’re one, and I feel like a proud auntie watching from the wings. I absolutely loved the original story, yet I know the final version will be even better; I’ll be the first person to preorder my copy when it’s available. Thank you for sharing this journey with your fans, too, as it helps writers better understand what is in their future if they are traditionally published.

    And I, for one, really really really hope you do have a launch party so I can meet you in person and give you a giant hug. For now, virtual hugs coming your way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WARM FUZZIES! I love them so much. Candace, I was just telling one of those Facebook groups this past weekend how your editing basically changed my writing, which changed my life. I’m still pinching myself and I never want to lose this sense of wonder. I’m so grateful to be on this journey.

      Like

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