Oh, does it take long? I hadn't noticed.
Har. Hee! Whee.
Back in early 2011, when I jumped up and down and told my friends and family I'd sold my book, they thought that meant it was going to be in bookstores within the month. "When can I get it?" they asked, sweetly, naively. "Next week?"
"Spring 2013," I said, and felt a perverse joy in watching their eyes glaze over.
"Whaaaaa? Why does it take so long?"
My experience happens to be with traditional publishing, so I can only speak to that, but I hope this proves informative to other writers and their anxious loved ones.
The short, simplified answer is: quality control. And thank goodness for it.
A manuscript isn't acquired by an editor at a publishing house because it's perfect; it's acquired because the editor likes the raw material and believes she can help shape and mold it into something even better.
Such was the case with my book. Before I signed a publishing contract, I spoke with my agent, Sara Megibow, and my potential editor, Maggie Lehrman, on a conference call so I could get a sense of how Amulet Books worked and what Maggie envisioned for the story. I LOVED her ideas and immediately wished I’d already implemented them.
The first stage of edits consists of general edit notes: the broad ideas about plot, theme, or possibly reworking character arcs, both big and small, throughout the book. That took a few months.
Next up were line edits, which dig in to more detailed, sentence-level edits for meaning and consistency.
After that were copy edits and proofing, which correct word usage, grammar (unless the character voice deliberately eschews it), typos, and redundancies.
Next up: First pass pages! This is exciting because it's the first time you get to see the book's layout: how the finished product will appear, complete with fonts. *YES, I got way too excited about my font.
First pass pages are followed by...you guessed it...second pass pages. And keep in mind I wasn't Maggie's only book, of course. While all this was going on, she was editing several other novels on her list, not to mention reading tons of brand-new submissions.
Other talented people were hard at work designing the book's cover and interior art (read my review with Abram's Associate Art Director, Maria Middleton), writing catalog and jacket copy, printing up the ARCs (advance reader copies) for reviewer and/or bloggers, creating marketing plans, and more.
Were there days I wished I could jump ahead to the release date? Sure! But now that it's fast approaching, I find myself grateful that nothing was rushed into publication before it was ready. (And from what I've heard, most writers still go through their published books thinking of things they'd change.)
If I didn't have all that help from the talented people at Amulet, my book wouldn't be half as good as it it's turned out to be. And on March 5, I hope you'll see for yourself how their amazing work paid off!