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A slightly tongue-in-cheek guide for your road to publication:

Step 1: You write the damn book. Yeah, this part is a lot of work. That's what seperates the wussies from the real writers. But that part you knew, right?

Step 2: You revise the damn book. And this doesn't mean running spell check or having your bff Sally proof read it. It means finding critique partners who you may never meet in real life, and trusting them to rip apart your book with a red pen. You'll wallow, you'll cry, and you'll emerge with a better book in the end.

Step 3: You query agents. With a kick-butt query letter that has also been ripped to shreds and reassembled, maybe with the help of the fine folks at verlakay or absolute write. Because there's nothing like the internet to make shy, introverted people become gleefully brutal. It's for your own good. I promise.

Step 4: You land a kick butt agent. S/he gets out an even bigger red pen, and you revise your book. You may also realize you should have listened to that one girl on that one message board who said your protagonist was kind of annoying.

Step 5: Your agent sends your baby out into the world. You refresh your inbox 945 times. Per Hour. You type up 32 emails every day, saying, "Have you heard anything?" only to delete them becuase you know that would be annoying, and also, your agent isn't going to forget to tell you about that six figure pre-emptive offer. But one or two of those emails will manage to get sent, and then your agent will swear s/he still loves you, and to sit tight. Which you'll do, cool as a cucumber. Not really. You pretend to be cool as a cucumber, but really, you just sent all your writing buddies an email titled Submissions Update #455, in which y'all analyze that one line in that one email to try and figure out if maybe there's good news coming.

Step 6:  You  may get to 'second reads" a time or two or "go to comittee" and your hopes will soar,but sometimes they'll crash, and you'll consider quitting this whole writing thing in favor of becoming a potato farmer. You'll dream of a world with no internet or books. But then you'll realize you'd probably just write your next novel in the dirt with a stick, so you may as well keep at it.

Step 7: You get the call, and after those first few sentences everything else gets sort of hazy. You know, as if those first few sentences she spoke were shots of Bacardi 151. She'll probably email you all this crap later, so you don't really have to pay attention. Just focus on the jumping up and down part. You trust her anyway, right? That's why she's your agent.

Step 8: Several days usually pass in which your agent rounds up answers from everyone else, and you stare at the wall in a daze, and the only answer you really want is to the question: "When can I blog about this?"

Step 9: You accept a deal. You finally tell your mom you wrote a book, becuase chances are you didn't consider yourself a "real writer" until now. You wait for a parade, but then realize the parade probably comes on release day. Which, come to think of it, is like two years away.


Step 11: The euphoria of selling your novel wears off, and the real work starts. Your editor sends you a revision letter that is about 12 pages long, and you contemplate putitng every other page through the shredder so that you don't die right now, curled up in a ball under your desk. But then you eat that entire apple pie and get to work, and realize it's not so bad and hey, your editor might just be the smartest friggin person you've ever met. The panic will come back about 3 days before your book is due. It won't go away until she has read all your revisions and told you you're awesome.

Step 12: Line edits. These don't suck too bad. Well, except that one line on page 99 that you were sure was the best line you've ever written, and your editor just crossed it out.

Step 13: Copy Edits. These don't suck too bad either, but HOLY CRAP, do you use commas wrong. And WTF, you really thought it was "towards." There's no S on the end of that? You google it just to be sure, but turns out this person who does copy editing for a living actually knows what she's talking about.

Step 14: First Pass Pages, or FPP:  You're supposed to be proofreading this- your LAST proofread, but you can't stop petting those cool swirls they use for chapter headings.

Step 15: ARCs. For four and a half seconds, you're squealing like a little kid on christmas morning. Then you realize: If you're holding an ARC, other people are too. And reviews will arrive soon. Oh, snap, you really should have paid more attention to those FPPs, becuase right there on page 7 is a typo. Every reader in the whole world is going to stop reading on page 7, you're sure of it.

Step 6: Finished Books. You don't expect them unitl release date, but they almost always arrive a week or two early. One day you arrive home, and there's a whole box... just sitting on your porch, all innocent like.

You've made it.

Oh, except.... Book #2 is due in three weeks.



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
Sounds like fun! Sign me up :)
Jul. 6th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
You've done a great job summing these up. I continue to struggle right between #5 and #6. Hoping that changes soon so I can watch #7-#16 fall into place.

Jul. 6th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
Self-publishing sounds awesome right about now.

...But I'd miss the editor who knows what he/she's talking about and the agent who's got my back.
Jul. 6th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
Potato farming
Do I have to choose? How about a potato farmer who writes?
Seriously, though, this is a great primer. I'm retweeting it.
Jul. 6th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
You have no idea how amused/freaked out/ready to become a potato farmer I am right now! Wait, maybe you do. There were all sorts of things in here I didn't know about, so now there's one less email I'll have to write you... LMAO

I was just telling Lee about long revision letters and how we're lucky to have an agent who likes to edit. After some of the stories I've heard, 12 pages sounds delightful. Bring it on!!
Jul. 6th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks for making me laugh about it!
Jul. 6th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
OMG I am stuck firmly in #5 and apologize profusely! LOL And at least you know I delete 944 emails and only send that 1! An hour.

(Cannot even look at 6-16 yet)

ROFL Katie!!!
Jul. 6th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
Beautiful. I laughed so hard :D
Jul. 7th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)

*Going in the memories*

Joyce Sweeney just told me about "towards" the other week! I've been using it wrong for years! I have to do a search-and-find and clean up because I'm still not used to typing "toward" instead.
Jul. 7th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
Lol - I'm TOTALLY waiting for the deal to tell my mom I wrote a book (or several). She has NO idea!
Jul. 7th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Loved this and yeah...pretty much want this life, lol
Jul. 7th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Ahahaha! I'm on #5. Thank you for reassuring me that I'm not crazy.
Jul. 7th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for the warning.
Jul. 7th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
That sounds just about right. :)
Jul. 7th, 2010 12:08 pm (UTC)
EXACTLY how it went with my first book, Mandy. The only part that didn't quite fit was the comma/towards stuff. As an English teacher, I was the one arguing with the copywriter about how "blond" refers to a guy and "blonde" to a girl (but then I found out the publisher just makes it "blond" across the board). How my grammar nerd heart ached...
Jul. 7th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
whoa, your publisher wants it to be BLOND for a girl? That's just wrong.
Jul. 7th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha, I loved this!!

At around Step 9, I was smiling and then Step 11 came round the corner and I think I went pale.
But it sounds challenging and fun! x)
Jul. 7th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic and clever...just what I've heard and have come to expect from the future process. Now I want to do it. :)
Jul. 8th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
This post is one of the best I've ever seen!! LOL, I'm at the point where I contemplate a career in potato farming... Good to know what's coming.
Jul. 8th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
Hammer meets nail head.
Jul. 8th, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure you just described heaven...
Jul. 8th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
I love this post.
Jul. 8th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
The next time someone asks me when I'll be published I'm sending this link, and telling her I'm at step #3. Excellent post. Thanks!
Jul. 8th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Definitely loved this post! I can't wait to experience all of those step!!!!! Right now I am almost finished with #1! I have a VERY long way to go
Jul. 13th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing! At least we know what to expect now. P.S. You put Step 6: Finished Book instead of Step 16. And pointing this out makes me feel like a huge nerd.
Jul. 16th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
I've been through all the steps (rinse and repeat) on my nonfiction. My fiction is sitting stubbornly at #5. I don't email my agent 32 times a day, though. I'm not an amateur. I call her 32 times a day and then hang up when she picks up the phone. Y'know, just in case an editor was trying to call her.
My CP partner sent me this...think she was trying to tell me something?
Jul. 16th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
This post is perfection. Love.
Aug. 16th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
Step 5 - that's me. Still waiting. And trying not to write agent - have you heard? have you hear? have you heard? You still love me, right?
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
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