With less than three weeks before the release date of my debut YA novel (A Work of Art, Merit Press), I thought I’d start blogging about what the journey from contract signing to release date has been like so far. This first installment will be a recap from the time I signed the contract up until three months before publication.
Zero to five months after signing the contract: I signed the contract in February 2014 with a release date of “Spring 2015.” I spent most of this time trying to guess what “spring” meant (is June considered spring?) and deflecting questions about what my journey has been like so far (because I didn’t have anything to tell). Not until I found out my exact release date (March 18) did I feel like a real author.
I tried to be productive during this time of waiting. I joined two marketing/support groups for authors: Uncommon YA (for writers of gritty YA) and Fearless Fifteeners (for 2015 debut authors of MG and YA).
Oh, and I worked on my next book.
Seven months before pub date: I got the editorial letter I’d been dreading and looking forward to at the same time. Dreading because I’d heard stories about writers getting back thirty single-spaced pages of editorial changes. Anticipating because I wanted to take my book to the next level. I pictured myself spending weeks furiously revising to meet my editor’s deadline with the end result being something undeniably great. As it turned out, I finished my editorial changes in less than two hours.
Which gave me lots of time to work on my next book.
Five months before pub date: I got cover art! Two choices. I picked my favorite (my contract specifies that I get a say) and asked the artist to do some tweaks. Here’s my lovely cover:
I also got ARCs!—those wonderful advanced reader copies that get sent out to reviewers. My publisher sent me 20, most of which I still have. It was neat seeing my book in print, but the ARC is a paperback and it’s unproofed (there’s a typo on the first page, so I was kind of bummed), but it’s tangible proof that my book is a book.
Now that I had ARCs, I could start asking other authors to read the book and possibly provide a cover blurb. I was lucky enough to get blurbs from four YA authors I admire: Yvonne Ventresca, Crissa-Jean Chappell, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, and Laurie Gray.
This was a busy month. With cover art and blurbs, I could get bookmarks made, which I did. I also put up a Website (designed by my husband), wrote blog posts, worked with my publicist to make a press kit, and spent way too much time worrying if I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing.
Oh, and I did find time to work on my next book.
Four months before pub date: My book is starting to go out to reviewers, so I spend much of this month nervously waiting. I had a book trailer done. I blogged. I tweeted, and I worked on my next book.
Three months before pub date: I got my first review! A starred review from Kirkus Reviews! Happy dance commences. I worked on interview questions for several websites that will be featuring me in the coming months. I added to my website and started having sketchy thoughts about a book launch party.
And, yeah, I worked on my next book.
Read more on my countdown to publication in Part 2.