A post from my wife, Denise Kiernan, whose book, The Girls of Atomic City, is out today.
It’s here—that day all authors wait for which, when it finally dawns, is one of the most anticlimactic career events ever, no matter how many times you go through it. Pub day.
Books are a long haul. You get a kernel of an idea, do a little digging and try to decide whether this is a topic you want to live with for years. Then of course there’s the business end of the entire endeavor which, if you’re like me, can’t be ignored if you want to make a living: Can I sell this to a publisher and can that publisher sell it to readers?
So the kernel sprouts and you decide that you do want to live with the idea until you don’t and then until you can’t live without the idea again. Then there are the proposals and the meetings and all the while you’re trying to keep researching and come up with a clear vision for this project that you’ve already told major publishing corporations you really do have a vision for. Then you get the deal. Relief. Deadlines. A schedule. Sort of. An end date? In a sense, sure.
You write. You rewrite. You keep researching. You turn in the first draft, which is maybe the most anticlimactic of all the anticlimatices. (New word! It’s one of those vertices you think you’ve reached but feel underwhelmed when you actually do.) You’re still so far from done and you know it. You wait for your editor. You already want to make changes the minute you hit “send” and your manuscript went out into the ether on its way to your editor. That’s fine. Changes are coming.
Your changes. The editor’s changes. Changes from those trusted colleagues you allowed to see your ugly, ugly first draft. Revisions and more drafts follow. The end is so much closer and you know now that the time to really whip things into shape is shrinking fast.
A first look at your cover blows a little wind up your skirt and you get excited again. A cover! It’s real!Do you like it? they ask. You do! You really do! You’re not just saying that to avoid sounding like a moody, picky writer with no design experience. Everyone weighs in. Then polite “suggestions” from the real power-wielders at any publishing house: sales. They don’t like the cover. Am I OK with that? Absolutely. After all, there are bigger fish in this fry-daddy.
First pass pages! Am I done? No. The copy editor has seen it, maybe a proofer.Only make necessary changes…Necessary. Never do writers have more trouble defining such a two-cent word than when they are instructed to make only “necessary” changes.
Pencil marks. Post-its. Use this pencil, not that one. You finish…sort of. You mail it in. You’re done!
No, you’re not.
Promotional materials. Second pass pages and galleys. The book is in print…sort of.Ugh..I could invent a drinking game based on the number of times I used the word (insert favorite adjective here)…I can’t believe I….Can I still change…? Your editor is about to hop on a plane and pry the pages from your cold dead hands. Promotional materials again. Web sites. Meetings. Lists of people you hope will give this book a second look. Finally, there are no more changes to be made. The book is off to the printer.
But you’re still not done. Wrangling for press, emailing, tweeting. Yay! I got a piece in yadda-yadda magazine! Boo! Whozeewhatsit doesn’t want to have me on their show! Yay! Boo! Wine.
Then, finally, on a rainy Tuesday, the book is officially out in the world. Sort of. Actually there has already been press. People have already been tweeting pics of the book after purchasing it BEFORE the pub date from stores that ignore those sort of contractual restrictions. Emails from friends and people I haven’t heard from in a while are, by far, the best part of this day, and I will answer every single one.
However, I’m still not done. I have talks to give, traveling to do, presentations to prepare (clothes to buy…) I open my laptop and try to get back to work. The inter-web sink hole drags me down into the neuro-pacification that is KenKen and I wander over to…
Hang on. What’s that a picture of…? Who isthat? She looks fascinating. She didwhat? When? Huh. You know what would be a great story…
And another kernel sprouts in the dark. Happy pub day.
I’ve been watching Denise’s march through the trad pub world with interest, comparing it to my own experiences in self-publishing. I’ll do a post on this shortly. I just want to collect my thoughts on it all.