Sunday, January 27, 2013

From first draft to publication

A writer friend who is currently writing his first book asked me about the process of editing after the manuscript is turned in. It sounds absolutely nuts that it takes so long to get a book into stores, but once you see the timeline, it makes sense. Before writing my first book, I didn't realize how much actually goes into the process!

The manuscript for my next book is due this Thursday. After the book is turned in on Jan. 31, I probably won't hear anything for six weeks, as the book is passed around the publisher's office and then the editor gets to work on the line edits. Then we'll spend a couple months on editing, which often feels like a full-time job! At that point, the editor sends me the whole manuscript with "track changes" in it, and I go through and start clarifying, adding, etc. I email her when I have questions. If it's too complicated, we talk on the phone.

Once that is done, I email the whole thing back to her, and she starts going through it one chapter at a time for final edits and sending them back to me one chapter at a time for additional clarification on the clarifications. After that, we each give it a final read-through. Pretty much all of April and May are consumed with editing.

Then the page designer gets it and turns it into a beautiful book! About a month later, I get a pdf, and the publisher sends that to reviewers and potential endorsers with the disclaimer that it has not been proofread. Believe it or not, there are still typos at that point! I read it, and a proofreader reads it, and we submit a list of corrections, which is usually a couple dozen. It always blows me away how many little things have been missed. At this point, an indexer also gets the book and creates the index. The endorsers usually have about four weeks to read the book and get back with their quotes, which will be added to the first pages inside the cover. And then it finally goes to the press for printing!

I've heard some small presses are slower than this. Someone on the ASJA forum the other day was saying that it was a year from submission to print when she did a book for a small press. In my case, we want to get the book out for the Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania at the end of September, so we have a real deadline, which we religiously adhere to, because we really want to get the book in front of the 12,000-15,000 people who attend every year!

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