10 Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book

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.

martina booneThe Ten Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book

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.”

EditorialLetter 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.

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)

CompulsionThree plantations. Two gifts. One ancient curse.

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.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Walmart | Target | Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

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.


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!


Please, do check this book out, and add it to your Goodreads listI can’t recommend it enough. You can find Martina all over the place, so reach out and say hello:

Martina’s Website | Blog | Tumblr | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter

Questions about the Publishing Journey? Fan of Compulsion like me? Tell us all about it in the comments!



Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Agents, Book Review, Guest Post, Publishing and Self Publishing, Reading. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to 10 Editorial Steps From the Agent “Call” to Published Book

  1. Pingback: No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links | No Wasted Ink

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  3. Thanks, Martina, for this inside look into your process. Late in reading this post–but it’s a good one! I can say I knew you when…. Carol

  4. Joanna says:

    I need to read COMPULSION! While I have never met Martina in real life, I have already experienced her generosity and encouragement on FB! Excellent blog post and a process I hope to be entering soon!

  5. Julie Musil says:

    Ooooh, I just adore Martina. And Compulsion was fabulous!

  6. Joanne says:

    Great article I was wondering when sending the first chapter/manuscript to agents should it be professionally edited or not?

    • If I may, I will answer that one, Joanne. Any work sent to an agent should be as strong as you can make it, and usually this is done through significant editing by the author, and from several rounds of critique feedback from other writers (first chapters are so very important is is normal to work on the opening extensively.) Some may choose to pay for an edit before submitting to an agent, but this is not the majority. A person’s craft should be elevated enough that they can do the bulk of revision work. Paying for an edit before striking a publishing deal can sometimes not be the best use of monetary resources because the agent may want changes before submitting, and once a deal is in place, an editor will likely need significant revisions before going to print.

  7. Pingback: From getting an agent to getting published | For my writing journey

  8. Great tips. Thanks for sharing them.

  9. Great book and great tips. I’m saving these for when that contract happens.

  10. Calisa Rhose says:

    Great post Martina. I’ve gone through all but the agent and it was one thing you didn’t mention, for me. Thrilling! I loved the ride so much I became an editor just to help other authors take that magic carpet ride. 🙂 Tanks for reminding me what that first time was like again. Your book sounds intriguing and one I’d read.

  11. Tara Ashlyn says:

    Fabulous insight! Thank you for sharing. I have a feeling if I ever make it to publishing I will be crying too from the pressure and self doubt of can I ever make this book good enough. It is nice to know that even though you felt down that you pulled through in the end and where able to achieve the reality of publishing Compulsion. Gives me hope!

  12. I love this post, Martina. The process is long and involved, and we all want to know what happens at the various points. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  13. This post was very informative. Thank you!

  14. Ellie says:

    This was SO helpful! I knew a bit of how the process was, but this summarizes it really well. Thanks!

  15. Tamara Meyers says:

    Win or lose, I have to read your book! Thank you for all of the information on the ten steps. It sounds rather daunting, but worth the effort.

  16. :Donna Marie says:

    Well, if I ever get an agent, this list will come in VERY handy! Thank you 😀

  17. carmelle Tidd says:

    I am learning and reading everything that has to do with writing,and specifically, writing a book. Your summation of having a publisher to having your book printed was an informative and interesting read. Would love to win a copy of your book Compulsion.

  18. Nina Falkestav says:

    Thanks for the useful information and the book sounds excellent, I’d love to have one if the offer still stands!
    Thanks again!

  19. Hi everyone! I am posting on Martina’s behalf…for some reason WordPress has locked her out and she is unable to leave comments. I guess she has tried to leave several, and all it has gotten her is blocked. Very frustrating for both of us, so my deepest apologies!

    Martina asked me to pass this on:

    “Please let Catharine know that I’m thrilled that the post is going to be used for an additional use I hadn’t even thought of. And tell Melinda that the e-book is the same copyediting and it’s all handled by my publisher. I’m sure they do several passes to check formatting, but I’m not involved in that at all.

    And for Autumn, Manju, and everyone else — thank you so much for their kind comments and notes, and best of luck to everyone on sub and querying!”

    Hopefully we will get the comment thing straightened out asap, so thanks for your patience. Martina is enjoying reading the comments and your enthusiasm! You guys rock!

  20. Autumn says:

    Thanks so much for this article, I’ve bookmarked it! 🙂

    I also recommend reaching out to Martina. I had the pleasure of “meeting” her (online) when I first joined Twitter and she was always generous (with her time and knowledge), upbeat, caring and supportive. I’ve also been a fan of her blog for a long time now so be sure to check her out there too. (too much info there to even begin to cover)

    Congrats, Martina, your success is well-deserved. 🙂

  21. Thanks for sharing about the whole process. People sometimes forget that there is still a lot of work even after an author signs a publishing contract. No wonder it takes so long to get to release day. Congrats, Martina!

  22. Donna says:

    Being on submission right now, I can’t tell you how helpful this article is. With fingers crossed, I wish a boatload of success to everyone!

  23. Suzanne Baginskie says:

    Your article gave a great outline of the steps necessary to produce a book in the final stages. Mine is already written, but still in the rewriting process. Thanks for a heads up on how the agent, editor, and such still make changes. Congratulations. Your career can only go onward and upward.

  24. Kelly H-Y says:

    Bookmarking this fabulous, insightful post! Thank you! And, can’t wait to read Compulsion!

  25. Thank you for such a comprehensive and clear description!

    I’m a freelance editor/proofreader and I often get the email equivalent of blank looks when I ask people what type of edit they would like me to do. I’m bookmarking this to send next time I ask that question of a new author.

    Hope some of them are also tempted to investigate your book – I was certainly intrigued, so good work while ‘on sub’!

  26. Chrissie says:

    Martina – thanks so much for this insightful article. Your book sounds like a great read. Good luck!

  27. Elise says:

    Thanks for information on these steps! I’m about to start querying, so knowing what to expect after the query phase is helpful!

  28. Fabulous post! And the book sounds AMAZING!

  29. Dana says:

    This is such a great guide, and I hope to have a need for this info in my near future 🙂 Also, Compulsion sounds fantastic!

  30. Melinda says:

    Hi Martina,
    Did you see an ebook copy of your book before it was published? Was that included in the ARCs or did the publisher handle all of that without your input? Thanks for the great information!

  31. Melinda says:

    Hi Martina,
    Did you do any proofing/editing rounds for just the eBook version of your book to make sure it was formatted right? Was that included in the ARCs? Thanks for the great information!

  32. Rosalyn says:

    These are great! I’m currently on submission, so you can bet I’m curious about what (hopefully) comes next.

  33. Wow, it’s a long process. I have a friend who is at the stage where she’s about to do her copyedits. I guess the next step is the ARCs. And now I can see she still won’t be done!

  34. Ginger J. says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I appreciate the information, and I look forward to reading COMPULSION.

  35. Sarah Beth says:

    I’ve seen similar, but this is the clearest ever. Many thanks to the “helping writers” for presenting this fine summary.

  36. Tonja Drecker says:

    It is funny how the process of querying has an overflow of information, but ‘after getting agent’ status seems taboo. Thanks for listing all of this out! Definitely informative.

  37. Pat Esden says:

    Great post! I just met my first editorial deadline and it really does feel like I’m in an information void–and constantly embarrassed by not understanding technical terms.

  38. Martina, Thank you for filling in the holes of my understanding in the editorial process. I have a copy of Compulsion. And I agree that you are “an uber talented author.” Take care.

  39. jeffo says:

    Real nice summary of the process, thank you, Martina. I have only gotten to “On Sub” so far but hope to move past that this year. Your book sounds quite interesting–best of luck!

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