Friday, January 05, 2007

Another Already?

After “What are you calling it?” one of the most-asked questions I get about my writing is, “So, have you started anything new since your last book?”

Lately the answer has shocked a lot of people, because it’s not that I’ve started anything; I’ve finished something and turned it in.

The reaction: “But didn't your last book just come out?!”

Well, yes, it did. But trust me on this one; I’m not some Super Woman who whips out a book in three months flat (HA!!!! It’s hysterical to even think that, especially when you factor in the research involved in a historical novel.)

So to set the record straight, here’s the scoop on how this publishing time line thing works.

In a nutshell, it takes a whole lot longer to get anything through the pipeline than most people realize. The LDS market is much quicker than the national market, but even here it simply takes time.

Here’s what a typical manuscript goes through for me: First I draft the book. Then I revise it several times, giving it to my critique group and revising again. When I think it’s polished enough, I submit it to my editor.

Then it goes out to three different readers who fill out a huge evaluation form with something like a dozen pages or more. This process generally takes two or three months. For a new writer trying to break in, the process can take much longer, since current authors gets priority in getting their stuff out to the readers.

If the evaluations are favorable and the editor feels the manuscript is strong enough, it’ll be brought to the committee. That’s where the final publication decisions are made. Once it’s officially accepted, three or four months may have passed since submission for a regularly publishing author. In my rejection days, this part would take six to nine months or longer.

Then comes the fun of edits—a content edit and likely two line edits as the manuscript ping pongs between me and my editor. This can last weeks or months.

After that are the proofs. Again, several of them, some done by me, others by hired proofers. By the time the book is sent to be typeset into the final galleys (so it’s formatted and printed on the page just how it’ll look in the final book), I’m ready to burn the thing. I can practically recite the book in my head, I’m certain that it’s awful, and if I ever read another word of it again, it’ll be too soon. The proofing stage can be a couple of weeks or an entire month or more.

Once the book is finally ready, it’s sent off to the press. Getting the final copies printed and warehoused takes a good two months, and then shipping them to stores takes even longer.

The upshot is that if the entire process takes less than ten months, you’re lucky. So you submit one book and get to work on the next.

At the Journey’s End was submitted December of 2005 and was released this last September. In January of 2006 I began working on my next book, which I submitted right before Christmas. (Do the math here—the book took nearly a year to complete. I'm not close to Wonder Woman.)

So now I do the waiting game until I hear for sure that this next book (my Salt Lake temple one) is officially accepted. If and when it is, I’ll begin the editing process sometime around March or April.

The delay feels a little weird at times—here I am promoting and talking about a book that I wrote over a year ago, when I’ve been living and breathing (and very excited about) a different book during that entire time. But for readers, of course, it feels immediate. They don’t know when you wrote the thing, submitted it, or, most likely, how long the editorial/publication process took.

But now you do.

So what am I doing now that I turned in my latest manuscript? Naturally, I’m starting research for my next one, set in Manti. The weirdness factor sets in when I think that if all goes well, it’ll be released fall of 2008. By the time I turn in the Manti book, my Salt Lake one should be in print. By the time Manti is published, I’ll be nearly done writing a different book altogether.

And so it goes . . .

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