The Publishing Process Nears the Final Stage
My heart rate jumped last week when I received two boxes of advance readers’ copies, uncorrected page proofs of Show Me the Murder. Nine years after a news story sparked the idea for my protagonist and thirteen months after I submitted the manuscript to the publisher, the final product is only four more months away.
I will read (aloud) one last time for typos and begin sending out copies to local, regional, and special-interest reviewers. The publisher will send out review copies to national publications, correct any typos, and print books for release in late February.
A year and a half is a long time in this age of instant communication, but that’s standard in traditional publishing. Here’s the basic process.
The pitch: I described the book to an editor at Killer Nashville in August 2011. She invited me to submit it.
Submission: I submitted the manuscript in September 2011. A few weeks later the editor told me she liked it and had sent it up the line.
Acceptance: The publisher offered me a contract in December 2011. The legal department asked for details on what real places, people, and products appeared in the book. My interpretation: The lawyers wanted to be sure I hadn’t libeled anyone.
Contract signed: January 2012.
Developmental editing: This step typically focuses on big-picture issues, but in February 2012 the editor and I spent more time (roughly two weeks) working on style questions. (Most publishers have their own style manual, usually a variation of the Chicago Manual of Style.)
Copyediting: This step focuses on consistency of style, but in May 2012 the editor also caught a couple of content errors (e.g., a person in the wrong room).
Proofing: I read the entire manuscript aloud to catch typos, missing words, and similar errors in July 2012.
Cover: An editor emailed me the image in September 2012.
Final proof/review copies: My copies arrived in October 2012. I hope to find no typos. Why send out uncorrected review copies? Because magazines operate with a three- or four-month lead time.
Release: February 2013.