Heads-up: this is a long one.
I thought I’d detail the whats and whens of my debut novel/s getting published for your education/entertainment. The list below is not exhaustive; I’ve left out a lot of the more minor details. And there’s a summary at the end if you find the dates starting to blur together.
Bear in mind that:
- Voiceless was by no means the first novel-length manuscript I’d written. In fact it was the fifth.
- I had engaged a professional freelance editor and friend (the inimitable C.) for help with previous books. Her feedback over the years helped me with the craft of writing immensely.
- I really wouldn’t recommend submitting a first draft to a publisher. I pride myself on writing a good quality draft. But still, I got lucky.
- Going the traditional-ish route, I can’t stress enough how rare it is to land a publisher in such a short space of time — and without an agent, at that. I would also say that the situation was slightly unusual in that I started working on things for them before we had a contract signed.Enjoy.
Voiceless Duology Timeline
November/December Write draft of Voiceless.
December 29 Submit to Publisher 1 on their last day of open submissions. Anticipate severe injury if C. ever finds out I submitted a first draft to a publisher twenty-four hours after finishing writing the thing.
January/February Write draft of sequel, Expression.
February 17 Email Publisher 1 for follow-up per stated guidelines on their websites. Receive reply promising a response by Feb 28.
February 28 No response from Publisher 1.
April 14 Send second follow-up email to Publisher 1. Receive reply containing apologies for delay, a polite rejection, and detailed pages of feedback. Publisher invites me to revise and resubmit. I tell them I can have the revised manuscript on their desk in six weeks.
April 18 Receive reply saying that due to other commitments, they wouldn’t be able to look at the book again until the end of the year. Put Publisher 1 on the back burner.
April 26 Ask C. for advice. C. recommends Publisher 2. Submit Voiceless to Publisher 2.
April 27 Receive reply from Publisher 2 containing questions about the book and asking for a one-chapter sample. Answer questions; send sample.
April 29 Emails fly both ways containing questions and answers on the ms and the publishing model. Publisher says they liked the sample and would I be interested in moving forward? Skype call scheduled.
May 2 Skype call happens. Good feelings all round.
May 5 Fill out international tax treaty paperwork.
May 30 Receive interim editing suggestions from publisher. Editing ensues.
June 11 Receive draft contract for the Duology.
June 26 Send questions re contract.
June 27 Receive detailed reply re contract.
June 30 Pending agreed revisions, contract given the green light.
July 4 Finish interim edits on Book 1, Voiceless.
July 10 Contract signed by both parties. It is now official. Announcements go out.
July/August Crowdfunding details hashed out.
August 15 Kickstarter campaign goes live.
September 12 Receive interim edits from publisher for Book 2, Expression.
September 15 Finish interim edits for Expression.
September 15 Kickstarter campaign ends. Voiceless funded.
September 26 Six month anniversary of Voiceless initial submission.
September 30 Receive cover design brief questions. Complete and return.
October 4 Email discussion re cover design for Voiceless.
October 6 Receive email laying out clear financials re Kickstarter advance.
October 10 Advance paid.
October 12 Receive Voiceless cover concepts, round one. Discuss.
October 13 Receive developmental edits, round one, for both books (while in bed with flu). Also receive orders from Publisher to sleep and stay hydrated.
October 22 Receive Voiceless cover concepts, round two. Discuss.
October 30 Finish developmental edits, round one, for both books. Send away.
November 30 Receive developmental edits, round two, for both books.
December 21 Finish developmental edits, round two, for both books. Send away.
January 20-22 Discussion re funding, cover reveal, book release timeline, etc.
February 1 Receive line edits for Voiceless.
February 4 Finish line edits.
February 17 Receive copy edits for Voiceless.
February 18 Finish copy edits.
March 1 Receive cover concepts for Expression. Discuss.
March 8 Receive Voiceless page layout sample. Discuss.
March 14 Early copies of Voiceless go out to proofreaders.
March 24 Official cover release for both books.
March 24 – April 3 Proofreader edits for Voiceless arrive.
April 8 Finish proofread edits.
April 14 Final check of Voiceless ARCs (Advance Reader Copies).
April 26 One year anniversary of Voiceless initial submission.
May 2 Discussion of taglines, back cover copy, etc.
May 3 Receive line edits for Expression.
May 10 Finish line edits.
May 15 Voiceless goes up on NetGalley for advance reviews.
May 23 Expression copy edits received, completed, and sent.
June 11 Countdown to Voiceless release date: one month to go.
June 13-14 Bookplates arrive. Sign and ship off.
June 26 Voiceless paperbacks arrive. Sign and ship Kickstarter backer copies.
July 10 One year anniversary of signing the contract.
July 11 Voiceless Launch Party!
July 12 Receive Expression proofreader edits.
July 13 Finish proofreader edits.
August 21-23 Discuss Expression cover blurbs, taglines, etc.
August 27 Limited edition 2-in-1 hardcovers arrive. Sign and ship.
September 10 Launch countdown: one month to go.
October 9 Paperbacks of Voiceless and Expression arrive in New Zealand, just in time for the launch.
October 10 Expression Book Launch!
(* disclaimer: it’s been a two-year process. I’ve done my best to track it as I went along and to check email dates etc, but mistakes happen. There’s probably something I’ve forgotten or gotten wrong. If so, accept my apologies? Ta.)
To sum up:
Nearly two years between November 1 2015, when I started writing the first draft of the first book, and October 10 2017, the launch of the second book. That 23 months includes writing both books, submitting them to publishers, signing a contract, working through multiple rounds of editing, etc. And that’s fast in the publishing world. (For example: step one, submit manuscript to a publisher and get rejected ad nauseam until you finally land a contract? That can take years.)
I had a day job throughout all of this. Still do. Two day jobs, both part-time, and these days I count the writing as a third job — not because of the money, but because of the time it takes up. Even if I could afford to write full time (which won’t be for many years yet, if it ever happens) I don’t know that I would quit the day jobs completely. I like the routine. And the small security of being able to pay rent from a regular income.
So now you’ve seen one author’s brief rundown of how a book gets from first draft to published novel. It is only my perspective. Don’t take it as a “one size fits all”; it’s not. Every (and I mean every) publishing experience will vary. No two publishers are the same. No two books are the same, for that matter, even from the same author.
A huge thanks to my publisher for all their hard work. And to C. for her craft advice, career advice, and encouragement. And to my readers. And to my online writer’s group — you know who you are.
Thoughts? Questions? Fire away.