So what happens once you get a book deal?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist."
- Isaac Asimov

  1. Contract. If you have a literary agent, they will negotiate the contract with the publisher. This will take a long time. I've met people who are all, 'Oh, I'm going to get a six-figure advance for my first book and live off that while I write my second.' And the issue with this is that a) you're delusional (sure people get six-figure advances. Not arrogant people, though) and b) it will be months and months before you even see the final contract, let alone your advance. (I'm not entirely sure what happens if you don't have a literary agent. I assume that there wouldn't be much negotiation, which wouldn't be great for you). And this is the point at which you should realise that you shouldn't be writing for the money. You should be writing for the love of it. (This is obviously easy for me to say, considering I'm supported by my parents.)
  2. Editing. You will have an editor assigned to your book. I always hear people say, 'Oh my god, personalised rejections hurt. I hate it when my poor, poor book is criticised.' These people are not going to like the editing process. Obviously it's a vital element of the whole book-publishing gig. When you get your manuscript back from an editor, it will be covered (and when I say covered I mean that. The entire thing) in squiggles and Xes and all manner of other little symbols. Every single word in your entire book will be questioned. The lines you like best will be cut. You may have to change character and plot. There will be numerous rounds of editing. You will grow to hate your book. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel - eventually the editing will end, and you will realise your book is better for it.
  3. Publicity. If your publisher does a decent job, you're probably going to have to go places and talk to people and go to festivals and talk to people and give speeches and talk to people. And this is not great because writers aren't really renowned for being social butterflies. And at first this might be really difficult for you, but you'll get the hang of it.
  4. Angst. You're going to become very stressed out and anxious (unless you're totally zen, unlike me). You will worry about the book not selling. You will worry about the next book. You will worry about never being published again. This is all totally normal, okay? It has to be. Otherwise I'm weird.
  5. Waiting. Your book may come out 1-2 years after you get the book deal. There will be a lot of waiting. But you've got plenty to do in between - and people will ask every three minutes, how's the new book coming along?
  6. Exciting moments. Seeing your book cover. Holding the bound proof. Getting blurbs from famous authors. Knowing that other people are going to read this thing. Knowing that all the effort you've put into reaching this point is worthwhile.
Do you have any questions about the publishing process?
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