Monday, December 3, 2007

Timeline for Publishing a Book

I just ran across some information that I thought others might like to know. In the comments section of Jessica Faust's daily blog post, several of her clients answered a question about what happens after a book is sold to a publisher.

J.B. Stanley wrote:
It takes me about six months to write and revise each of my mysteries. I then email it to whichever editor is awaiting the manuscript and within a month, they usually provide feedback on the book. Sometimes I do some quick revisions following that editorial letter, but mostly, the book gets circulated among the copy editing team. A few months later, the first round of editing begins. This process lasts for two-three months and the book is edited by many eyes three times. About 10-12 months after I originally turned the book in is when it hits the shelves.

Afterwards: The life of one's published book is amazingly varied. My first mystery, A Killer Collection, debuted Jan. 6,2006. It is already out of print. In other words, the print run sold out and it didn't do well enough to merit another printing. So far, my supper club series, which debuted with Carbs & Cadavers, is still alive, but only the sales numbers can determine how long each book will stay in print.

Kate Douglas wrote:
The author's job doesn't end when the manuscript is accepted by an editor--in fact, a lot of the work is just starting. There can be requests for revision and there will definitely be copy edits to review and page proofs to read--I've discovered those surprise packages generally arrive on a Friday afternoon with instructions to return them "ASAP."

Sally MacKenzie wrote:
The thing to remember is often the process, while somewhat standard--at least at NY publishers--does vary from book to book and from house to house. I usually get only get copy edits and page proofs--and yes, they do come while you are working on the next book, and usually when you are just getting up steam and into that new project! I can't proof and write at the same time, so I have to put aside the new book to work on the book in production--and then get back into it once I send the production book back to my editor.

I actually came up with my book titles--well, I came up with The Naked Duke and everything has followed--Nakedly--from there. But I would say most times the house comes up with the title, though usually there is some back and forthing. I had no say on my covers--I think only the very big names do--but I was very happy, so no problems. I guess if there was something I really didn't like, I'd see what Jessica could do. But it is usually better to keep in mind that the house's sales/marketing team just might have a better idea of what will get people to pick up a book than the author--there are unfortunate mistakes, of course, but that is their area of expertise. They want the book to sell, too.

I pick my deadlines when I sign a new contract, but--and I'm in that position now--when the date approaches, if I'm running late, I contact my editor. If the book is on a tight production schedule, the author had better turn it in on time. But if the deadline really has no direct bearing on the production/scheduling of the book, then there's more wiggle room.

The house will schedule books way in advance--I think 2008 is probably already pretty full at my house, but 2009 isn't on the boards yet, though they have already got books coming in for that year--I'm contracted for a novel and novella for 2009. The actual scheduling--slots and what not--is another whole topic.

As to how I propose new books, I've been lucky--I just say, well, I'll do something Naked. (Though I'm running out of Naked guys and will have to come up with a new idea soon.) The contract is usually for a book or two with an option on the next work. So, for the option book, most folks do a synopsis and three chapters--but again, that can vary.

I thought these answers were quite informative and wanted to put them in the spotlight (if a post on my blog can be considered a spotlight) so it won't be overlooked. Many thanks to these authors for taking the time to explain how things work.

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