Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The manuscript is out there, seeking a publisher with all the force a 93-thousand word thriller can muster.

It's only been a short while, but every time the phone rings at home, the hairs on the back of my neck rise a little.  Could this be the call?  Damn!  It's just AT&T wanting me to upgrade my service or some other annoyance that I don't care to hear from.

I want to scream into the handset, 'Don't you know I'm waiting on the call!  Stay off the line!'

Truth is, there's no sense in driving myself crazy because this step, much like the one before it and the one before that, can take some time.  How's does a year sound to you?  Only the crowd that includes Stephen King, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling and John Grisham can get projects green-lighted in less time.

For us mere mortals, the process is tedious.  Once an editor likes the project, it then goes through the wash with co-workers and bosses before a final go-ahead is given.  If that happy day arrives, your agent is given an  offer.  That offer basically includes an advance (less these days unless the Almighty has written you a blurb), royalties, territory (the area it's going to be sold) and other terms spelling out everything that comes to mind.  The deal can be for one or multiple books, and if you're fortunate, another editor from a different publishing house might be interested which leads to the sweetest words a budding author can hear "AUCTION."

So now you've got a signed contract and several bottles of good champagne later, the editor lets you know that 93-thousand word thriller you've already whittled down a million times needs further content changes that of course you will make.  Remember, you aren't King, Patterson, Rowling or Grisham yet.

When the manuscript achieves editorial approval, it's on to copyediting because even spell check isn't perfect.
You still have to proof-read each version as it's completed.  The good news is while all this is going on, the publisher is working on the design of your book, including the cover.  In addition, your new best friend, the editor, is co-ordinating with the sales and marketing departments to make the book look and feel the best it can be.  Long before the book is published, your personal sales force will deal with bookstore buyers and any other takers to place orders for your soon-to-be blockbuster.  All the complicated data derived helps the publisher determine how many books will be printed.

From finished manuscript to the point where passersby are looking at you strangely for striking a pose in front of bookstore windows, the process takes about a year or more.

Surely while all that was going on, book two is nearly finished...