Congratulations!! You Got a Book Deal…What Now?

With the Golden Heart® announcements taking place last week, it got me thinking of my own “class” of finalists in 2014. The Golden Heart® can be a huge stepping stone to publication. A majority of my class has gone on to ink publishing deals or get agents or self-publish or are *so* close it’s not even funny… I’m amazed by them every day. I’m sure the 2016 class (including our own BadGirl Sydney Carroll—woo-woo!) will be no different.

Yay, you got a deal! Celebrate and high-five and announce it over social media…but your job is nowhere near done. What actually happens after you accept an offer? Some of it depends on the house/editor and what kind of deal, but this skeleton of what happens is similar from house to house.

**A word on contracts…Don’t be surprised at how slooooow things move. If you have an agent, then negotiating the contracts can take months. I was through most of my edits before I signed the contracts on my Falcon Football series with St. Martin’s Press. As a new author, this made me nervous, as I worried things could fall apart at any moment. The reality is that accepting the offer is a virtual handshake. The contracts are red tape that your agent has to deal with. As a new author, trust in your agent, put your head down, and concentrate on releasing the best debut book ever.

The first thing you’ll get from your editor is your First Pass Edit notes. This can range from an email with bullet points to a Word document of several pages. It can also be very stress inducing. An author who enjoys receiving those initial edits is like a unicorn—I’ve never met one. Just remember that your editor offered on your book because they loved it and convinced an acquisitions board of its merit. Take a deep breath and tackle the issues. You’ll come out the other side with a better book. Once you receive edits, you’ll have ~1-4 weeks to complete.

Once you turn in your first pass edits, don’t twiddle your thumbs. If you signed a multi-book deal, get writing on the second book. Not only will you be chasing your contract deadline, but most likely, your editor will ask you for the first chapter or two fairly soon (before it goes to copy-edits) in order to include as a teaser in the back of the first book. If you didn’t sign a multi-book deal, start on your next project! You always want something in the pipeline!!

**Insert fun stuff** Typically somewhere in the editing process, you’ll get a peek at your cover! Hopefully, you’ll fall in love and plaster it everywhere. (I made a phone case out of KISS ME THAT WAYJ) Enjoy the high…now get back to work!

Depending on your editor’s schedule, (remember you are not her only author) you’ll receive Second Pass Edits. These are usually much lighter than first pass, and usually consists of detailed line edits rather than the big-picture edits. I’ve also had manuscripts that have skipped this step altogether and gone straight to copy-edits. In my experience, it’s depended on how light or heavy first pass edits were. You’ll have ~1 week to complete.

Once your editor accepts the second pass edits, the manuscript will be sent to a copy-editor. Their job is to get nit-picky about commas, hyphens, and awkward wording. They’ll also check for consistency of your time-line, character descriptions, and naming conventions. I’ve always received digital copy-edits, while some houses still send a printed out manuscript with markings. This can take several weeks. Remember, the copy-editing department services all the authors for your house. While you’re waiting on copy-edits to arrive, guess what? Get back to work!!

I *always* recommend reading through your manuscript one last time from start to finish after completing copyedits. At this point, you’ll be sick of reading it. Do it anyway. I promise you’ll catch a handful of mistakes. I’ve generally been given ~3 weeks for copy-edits, but I can usually complete these in a few days.

After you turn in the copy-edits, a few things can happen. For one set of digital books, copy-edits was my last review. For another set of digital books, I did a last review of a “book” formatted PDF version. For my print books, I get galley copies. This is a print formatted paper copy. I make any changes with a pen and scan the pages with changes back to my editor. The final step in all the processes is for a publishing house proof-reader to give the book one last read, catching any (hopefully) very small mistakes. Galleys take me ~3 days for a very slow, through read.

At this point, it’s all in your publishing house’s hands and the next step is your release. It can happen anywhere from four to eight months after you last touched your manuscript. In this time, expect to field constant questions from family and friends…when the heck is your book coming out anyway?

Guess what you should be doing with your time? WRITING! If you have other books due, it’s absolutely necessary to keep writing. Be professional; don’t miss your deadlines. If you aren’t under contract, you want other books published, right? They must be written to be published.

Harkening back to one of my previous posts on Debut Anxiety, the continued writing will also keep you (relatively) sane approaching your release. I’ve made no bones about the fact, I do not enjoy the pocket of time right before/after my books release. So, I’m like Dorie…I try to forget about the release and just keep writing…just keep writing…and (hopefully) repeat all the above over and over and over.

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