From Sale to Pub: Part 1

February 8, 2011

I was angsting with a friend yesterday who also has a book coming out in a couple of weeks and also debuted last year (okay, it was Rachel Hawkins. She’s actually a very grounded person, I’m just a negative influence on her. Oh, hey. You should buy her next book). We started confessing all the things we’d done lately to psyche ourselves out, like read our goodreads 1 star reviews, which is pretty much like stabbing your private parts with a spork while walking on coals. With your hands. Not possible? Read some 1 star reviews. You’re hands and, er… sporks will start to burn.
But it’s not like I sit around all day, sporking my soul with other reader’s misguided opinions. No! This is my SOPHOMORE novel, and as such I’ve matured and grown (even though, as my 10th grade English teacher, Mr Dunn, liked to point out, sophomore means sophisticated moron. Also? My husband pulled Mr. Dunn’s tooth last week. So, well, those things aren’t really correlated. OR ARE THEY?).
And as I often do when I am on deadline and should be focusing on the Plot LIne from Hell (Dear Editor–I am working on that. All the time. Except right now. But all the other time–I wrote a chapter today you’re going to love. No, I’m not reading reviews! What, and ruin my creative process? Phish), I started waxing all nostalgic about where I was a year ago, or two years ago, or THREE years ago when I was just shy of signing with my agent. I felt I was pretty prepared when I got my agent–I’d read enough blogs and talked to enough authors that I knew what I wanted in that relationship, and 3 years later I’m very lucky to still professionally be in love with The Great Sarah Davies. I even understood how books were sold–the revisions I needed to do with my agent, the different strategies to submit. But after Sarah called with news that–at the risk of sounding cheesy–changed my life, I didn’t know what was next. And then… and then… I’m published!!!! Unicorns and laughing babies and boxes and boxes of Target Choxie chocolate!!!!
Oh yes. There’s been chocolate.
There really isn’t a guidebook for the time period in between selling a book and the day, or even the months after, said book is published (okay, there might be a guidebook. And it’s probably very informative. But you’re already here, so just follow along, K?)
The After Deal time is like marriage. You plan every little detail of a wedding, and then you’re married and… and… you’re married!!! Happiness!
Book publishing is in better shape than our country’s divorce rate, but still. There is behind-the-scenes angst. I promise, every author experiences it to some degree, and if they are professional and smart, they largely keep it to themselves. But not Eve aka EVE-RY AUTHOR GOES THROUGH SOME OF THIS. Today we’re going to look at the first half–the build up to The Advanced Reader Copies. Then, later this week (when my contacts aren’t sticking to my eyeballs since I’ve been on the computer writing That Awesome Chapter), we’ll talk about the time where the book is done and waiting to hit shelves. Then the real Angst Balls roll out.
Feel free to add more in comments. And I promise this isn’t me. No, really. It’s not! Stop it, IT ISN’T.
But really. It isn’t.

FIRST LEG OF JOURNEY–creative part

Euphoria (first few weeks after sale)
–I sold a book! I SOLD A BOOK!!!! And it’s the best book ever written! I mean, sure, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but… forget that. Everyone is going to love this book. My agent loved this book. A publisher (maybe MULTIPLE publishers) hungered for this book. It’s not the biggest advance of the century, but that’s cool.Expectations are rational, and I’m going to blow those up anyway, baby. Only one in a million books sell. I’m one in a million. Look at all the hits on your social network/blog/website. Ha! Old boyfriend wrote congratulating. Yeah, crunch on that tostada, loser. Maybe i’ll stick you in the acknowledgements. After Oprah.

The After Deal Crash (month to a few months after sale) ((I’m serious. This happens to everyone. You are so high after a sale, there is only one direction to go next))
–I need good news! I need attention! I had 39523023 comments on my blog last month, and now I can’t even get a bite on my funny toenail story. Should I vlog about my toenail? Will that help? Would someone look at me, please? Hey–next big thing over here! LOVE ME!
–Uh, what now? No one’s calling. Shouldn’t my editor be calling me? Shouldn’t we be like, I don’t know, talking about the Bachelor last night? Or at least discussing my relationship woes? Or at the very least how awesome my book is? I haven’t heard from her since she called and said congrats. What’s she doing? When do I get my revisions? And why is my publication date TWO FREAKING YEARS away? I’m a fast writer. If they would just hurry up and get me my revisions, then I could get them back, and then this book could come out already. Because everyone keeps asking when does the book come out, and when I say two years, they look at me all funny, like, "What’s wrong with your book if it takes two years to fix it?" And I want to change my facebook status to WRITER, but then everyone will ask about the book. Or…
–Everyone keeps asking how much money I made.
–Everyone keeps asking when the movie comes out
–Everyone keep asking why I don’t just publish the book myself like the lady in the PTA. She gets to keep ALL her money, and doesn’t have to share with an agent. Y’all, lady in PTA wrote a picture book about dog table manners. There is two pages devoted to drool. WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME LEAGUE. You’ll see. 

Still waiting (weeks to months)
–Um, but seriously? Is this thing on? I sent my editor this super funny email that took me three weeks to write and she wrote back with a "Sure! You can change the "A" to "The" in the title. She didn’t even ask about my date last night. I bet she’s off lunching with Big Shot author. I hope she still likes me. She had another sale announced in Publisher’s Marketplace. Maybe she’s lunching with New Author. Crap, am I the middle sister-wife? Wait, what’s the role of middle sister wife? Ew, I’m so bored, I’m using polygamy metaphors. I’m going to google myself. 
–should I start another book? the sequel? Will they want the sequel? Or should I go write that serial killer kitten book I was thinking about, even if it’s not my brand. Wait. Do I need a brand? How do I decide my brand? Do I make a website featuring that still undecided brand? And who is my target audience? And who should I talk to in my blog–my mom, or future readers? Wait. I’m going to have readers. I need to delete those pictures on Facebook. Have libraries ever banned an author’s book based on Facebook pictures?

Revisions (first revision month a year after sell. Can me completed in a month or two, can be completed in 1-2 years. No. I’m not lying)
–MY EDITOR HATES ME. Oh my gosh, she hates me, hates this book, and wish she’d never bought it. She wants me to rewrite the ending. The ending is the whole point to the book. My book is now pointless. People will ask what my book is about and I’ll say "Uh…" and they’ll think I made the whole thing up, and Facebook Ex Boyfriend will be all smug, even though, hello, he’s an accountant at a sock factory. And a sock factory is much easier than the pages and pages of notes. There is not way I’ll ever do this. I bet they wish they’d never bought this sucktastic book.I need to call my agent. She probably hates me too. Judy Blume never went through this. I bet Judy Blume doesn’t even revise. I bet my editor is having drinks with Judy Blume right now, laughing at how sorry my manuscript is. Well, we can’t all write FOREVER, Judy! 

Revisions: Revisited (few weeks/months later)

–My Editor is a goddess. A brilliant, bookish, red-pen wielding goddess. When this book is done (gah! If this book is ever done!) I’m going to whittle her a throne out of Irish Spring soap. How did I not notice how weak that ending was? Or how arbitrary that secondary character was. What if Sock Ex had read that and laughed at my poor character development? Embarrassing. My editor saved me. I hope she loves me as much as I love her. I want to send her a present but no… that’s stalkerish. I’m professional. I’m so glad she doesn’t waste her time emailing me about stupid reality TV–she’s busy editing awesome. Wait, if I say she’s editing awesome, does that mean I think I’m awesome? Yeah? Well, I kind of do. But only because of my editor.
–So now that this book is pretty much done, should I bring up my next book? When do I start talking about flying my editor out to my release party? Uh oh–my book comes out in ten months and I still haven’t planned my release party.

Line edits/Copy Edits
–Oh. So this book isn’t done.
How many times does this dude gaze at my main character. Oh, just looked it up. Ninety two. So, uh… fix
–Okay, every time I think of the name Hannah, I think of that old SNL skit HANs and Frans with the body builders? Bad association. Need to switch her name.
–Urban dictionary says that means WHAT? Ew, no! She’s a farm girl, for pete’s sake. Head out of gutter, please.
–I have rewritten this sentence 38 times. I know I used SHOE three times in this paragraph, but what else can I call it? A pump? No one has worn pumps since 1989.
–How many people have read this and there are still this many mistakes?

To be continued… ARCs, the envies, the expectations, the surprises, the disappointments, and the But, Seriously, That’s my BOOK moment.