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
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
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
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!