I am ever so excited to hand the reins over to the fabulous Martina Boone, author of Compulsion, book 1 in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. There’s a few reasons for this. First, if you don’t know Martina, well, she’s brilliant. Not only is she an uber talented author with a head full of writerly advice which she dispenses at her blog, she is also a very compassionate and supportive friend who is always thinking about how to help other succeed. I love that.
Second, having her here gives me a chance to gush about her YA debut, Compulsion. You might remember how Becca recently blogged about her favorite reads of 2014. Well, GUESS what book tops my own 2014 list? You bet your bananas it’s Martina’s Compulsion. There is SO MUCH I want to say about this book, but I really should zip it for now so Martina can give us a rare window into what happens between signing with an agent and holding the beloved book in your hands.
Like most writers, I’ve dreamed of “being a writer” most of my life, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I decided to throw everything I had at learning to write and getting an agent and getting published. At that point, I read all the books and blog posts that might help me get “there,” and I found so much material that a friend and I started AdventuresInYAPublishing.com to collate all that information and share it with other writers.
Once I signed with an agent, though, I felt like I’d suddenly plunged into an information void. Even with COMPULSION out in the world and PERSUASION well on its way, I still constantly feel like an idiot pestering busy people with questions, or keeping the questions to myself because I’m too embarrassed to ask them.
When we’re starting out as writers, we rarely look beyond the process of getting an agent. That hurdle on its own seems so huge, but truly, it’s just the beginning of the editorial journey our books will take. No, wait. Don’t groan. That’s a GOOD thing, because once your book is out in the world, readers and reviewers are going to pick apart every choice you made. They’ll love them or they’ll hate them, but in your mind, you’ll need to be able to defend those choices knowing exactly why you made them.
After the agent call, here are ten more editorial steps your book will take:
Revising with Your Agent: Even after you’ve polished your manuscript enough to snag an agent, that agent will probably do a round or two of revision with you before sending your book out to editors on submission.
On Sub: While you’re revising, your agent is making lists of editors and putting together a submission packet that will contain the pitch as well as any supporting information that will help “sell” your book to an editor and acquisition panel. The pitch has its genesis in your query letter, and you may find that big chunks of your query eventually end up on your book jacket. You and your agent will probably work on the pitch together before submitting to the editors most likely to love your book.
The Offer: Before you get an offer, your editor may speak to you and share any editorial vision he or she has for your book or query you about follow-on ideas. Both the dollar amount and the supporting information the editor provides will tell you whether they see the book as a mid-list or lead title and how important it will be for their “list.”
The Editorial Letter: Usually even before your agent and the publisher’s legal department have finalized the contract and the check for the first third of your advance is in the mail, your editor is busy reading your book and preparing the overview what’s needed to bring it to full potential. An editorial letter can range from a couple pages to many pages addressing the manuscript’s strengths and areas for improvement. You may go through one or several rounds of developmental edits.
The Line Edit: Once the structure is in place, your editor will go through the manuscript line by line, looking for ways to strengthen the writing, clarify meaning, make images more specific, eliminate cliches and writing ticks, eliminate wordiness, etc.
The Pass for Press: Your editor will review the line edits once you turn them in and she or he will “accept” the manuscript. That’s the trigger for releasing the second third of your advance payment. At this stage, if not before, the book goes to the production department, which schedules out the production process. The book designer starts developing how the interior pages will look, and the cover designer has probably already been working on the exterior jacket in the meantime.
The Copy Edit: The managing editor will turn the book over to a copyeditor. This may be someone in house, or an outside freelancer. It may occur in track changes in Word, or as physical marks on paper. The copyeditor will correct any grammar issues, check for continuity, clarity, and consistency, and pose any queries on facts, timeline, etc. for you in the margins. When you get the Copy Edited Manuscript (CEM) back to review, it’s usually due to your editor very quickly. As I’ve learned the hard way, you need to make sure that this isn’t the first time you see your manuscript printed out on paper, because it will read very differently than it does on your computer screen. CEMs are not the place to make a ton of changes, but they’re a better place to make changes than any point further in the process.
Galleys/ARCs: Once your manuscript is copyedited, it will be changed from an electronic Word file into a typeset file within the publisher’s design program, where it is printed out into page proofs for further editorial scrutiny and distribution to reviewers, booksellers, and power readers—people who can help spread the word about and build excitement for your book. Depending on the publisher and the timeline, you may get to review the proofs before Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) are printed and bound, or you may see the ARCs first and get a few copies for yourself at the same time that they are prepared to go out for review. Don’t fret either way, ARCs are expected to contain errors.
1st Pass Pages: When you get the proofs of the typeset pages, it’s your first chance to see what your book will really look like, how the fonts look, how the paragraphs flow on the page, and how the pages and chapters lay out. You’ll also review for remaining typos and any inadvertent errors introduced when the file and edits were keyed in. Making changes at this stage is expensive, especially if they change pagination. If you make too many changes, your publisher could charge you for the expense, so you’re looking only for things that *must* be changed or corrected.
2nd Pass Pages: Whatever changes were made in the first pass will be reflected in the second pass, but your publisher may not send 2nd PPs to you. At this stage, your job on the manuscript is essentially done, and it’s a surreal feeling to know that there’s nothing more that you can do.
At this point, all of you—your agent, editor, production team, art department, marketing, sales, and publicity team, everyone at your publisher—have done their best, and it’s time to to turn the book over to your readers.
Getting a book to print is truly a gargantuan effort, and it’s a leap of faith and love on everyone’s part. The process is not for the faint-hearted, and there are times when I wanted to crawl in a hole and weep with the pressure and the stress and the sense that I couldn’t possibly make the book good enough. The first letter I received from a reader reminded me of why we do this though—because it was a letter very much like one I would have liked to have written to my favorite author about a beloved book. And hearing that my characters, world, and words have meant that much to someone is an amazing and energizing feeling.
(We often think that hardest part is writing the book, but this post shows how much more still needs to be done after the yes. And then there’s marketing, promoting…as Martina says, not for the faint-hearted. But the product of ALL that hard work? Right here. Trust me, you NEED this book! ~ A)
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who somehow seems to know what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
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The truth? I devoured this book. You ever wish a fictional world was a real place, and its characters living, breathing people that you could sit with and talk to? That’s the effect this book had on me. I loved Barrie and Eight, the push and pull of their personalities, and most of all, the love and loyalty they have for family. Watson Island felt as real and authentic to me as my own backyard. Reading this book was an experience in the truest sense. I loved discovering how magic compulsions, curses and feuds played out between the three families, and the secrets and danger that ties them all together.
A GIVEAWAY? HECK YES!
I feel utterly COMPELLED to make sure others experience this book, so Becca and I will be giving an ebook copy away to one commenter!
Questions about the Publishing Journey? Fan of Compulsion like me? Tell us all about it in the comments!