The ARC of History is Long: A Book Timeline

From the time I first started calling myself a writer, I wished I could see into the future, to see a version of myself who had finished a manuscript. Even as I worked on my first novel, I felt little certainty about if or when I’d finish. Then, when it was done and I sought an agent, I wondered how long it would take to find one. With my agent’s help, a publisher picked it up, and I wondered about the steps of the process that would make it a book.

Writers talk about all this, sure, but not with any specificity. And I didn’t have anyone to ask.

I still don’t really understand how these things work in general — everyone’s experience, of course, is different. But I know what I’ve done and what’s happened to my book. Here is the timeline of FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED, from start to …well, not finish. Till now.


June 2015: I begin writing FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED

March 2016: I complete a full draft

That summer: I revise the whole book

Querying Agents:

September 2016: I start sending the manuscript to agents

January 2017: as New Year’s resolution, I follow up with those agents who haven’t yet rejected the book outright, including (spoiler) Stacia Decker of DCL, who is my agent now

1/5/17: Stacia requests the full

1/16/17: she emails to ask if we can talk on the phone. (I was in Trader Joe’s in the checkout line when I read this email on my phone. I still feel good every time I’m there.)

1/17/17: we have The Call; Stacia offers representation

1/24/17: we sign contract

Querying Editors:

2/3/17: pre-submission revision and review of pitch letter complete. Book is officially on sub

Mid-February 2017: phone conversations with prospective TV/film subrights agents. I decide to work with Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates

March and April 2017: Rejections! Stacia sends me email updates with batches of editors’ emails pasted in verbatim. These emails are invariably nice but not helpful. There seem to be near misses

5/4/17: Stacia emails to say she’s heard from Tony Perez at Tin House Books and that he is “devouring” the book. Sounds promising!

5/12/17: Tony is interested and wants a phone call

5/15/17: I talk to Tony on the phone. He tells me what he likes about the book and what he thinks needs work. He sells me on Tin House as a publisher

5/18/17: Tin House makes official offer

Contract Negotiation:

5/22/17: all parties come to an agreement about the contract’s terms

6/15/17: final contract is finally drawn up and I sign it

One excruciating week later: TH countersigns

End of June 2017: I get the first half of the advance

July 2017: sale announced on Publisher’s Marketplace

Edits, Copyedits and Proofreading:

Summer 2017: Tony reads through the book a few times

9/7/17: Tony sends Edit Letter suggesting restructure

September-December 2017: back and forth with revisions

1/15/18: my contractual delivery date. I send final revised MS

March 2018: the book goes to the copyeditor, Anne Horowitz

5/29/18: I receive copyedits from Anne

6/18/18: I turn in changes based on copyedits

10/3/18: Tony tells me proofreading corrections are on their way!

That’s all so far!

Buy the book now


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