Good… whenever you’re reading this!
As I’m prepping for the release of the serial I’ve written as a freebie to my readers (each chapter will be uploaded on Fridays on my blog once it’s ready to go), I’m struck for the first time in a long time how long a process publishing is. You see, I’ve been away from the scene for a long while now. The pandemic really did a number on me. In less than two years, I lost my job (ah yes, the great furlough), had to move, found a new job, and had to move again. That’s a lot of change in a very short amount of time, and it took me quite a while to adjust and settle.
In that time, I wrote very little. This was not for lack of trying. I wanted to write, but there was nothing coming. I know I’m finally settling in because I was finally able to write again. In the last two years, I managed to finish two manuscripts (the most recent one being the afore-mentioned serial). Both of these manuscripts will have, I hope, a very different publishing journey.
The first, The Lioness of Shara Mountain, is currently under consideration with a publisher. I’m hoping the news is good and that it’ll be traditionally published. The serial, The New Haven Incident, will be published on my blog first, and then probably as an eBook… maybe a paperback. We’ll see. But I’ll be doing that one all on my ownsie. It’s a toss up as to which one will see the light of day first. Both have had, and will continue to have, quite the journey. I had forgotten how much waiting is involved.
Part of it, of course, is my excitement about getting the stories out. The serial especially. I had so much fun writing it. It’s such a silly premise (think zombie virus… but it creates faeries instead of zombies. Look, it’s silly), but I adore the characters and I really can’t wait to share it. Anyway, while I’m waiting, I thought I might take you through what the typical journey of a manuscript from rough draft to finished book is like, or has been like, for me.
Okay so, it’s been anywhere from a few months to several years, but the manuscript is finally done! Time to put it out into the world, right? WRONG! First, put the thing away for a week and go do something else. Make yourself a meal using real food. Go outside. Breathe real air. Remember what the sun is. Do this daily for about a week before pulling out the manuscript and editing the hell out of it.
Now it’s time to submit, no? NO!
This isn’t the universal experience, but I use beta readers; volunteers who will take my manuscripts and edit them. This can be quite scary, but I find it absolutely necessary. Even though I edit as I go and do two full edits before I send it off, I know I miss a great deal. These sessions with beta readers are absolutely necessary. I use three beta readers, and don’t send the manuscript to all of them at once. It’s one at a time, working through each edit in between.
That means, I must patiently wait for the first beta reader to edit the manuscript. Once I get it back, I got through the edits and comments. Depending on how sensitive I’m feeling, I may put the manuscript away after that for a little bit before getting to work. But, once I receive the edits, I go through them and make the suggested changes (or put them aside if I truly feel they don’t serve the story), then send it off to the next beta. This happens three times, so this phase of the publishing journey can take anywhere from six months to a year.
Once that final set of edits come back from beta reader three, and the changes are made, surely now it’s time to put it out into the world, right?
Well, maybe. It will be for The New Haven Incident. That’s about as far as I can take it on my own. If I get some disposable money (in this economy?), I will take the manuscript for a final, professional edit. But that’s only if there are funds available. So, The New Haven Incident is ready to publish. At least on the blog. It will have to be given a proper formatting before it’s ready to be turned into an eBook and again for a paperback. But that’s well into the future, once the serial has been fully uploaded to my blog.
In the case of The Lioness of Shara Mountain, however, it’s different. Only after that final edit will I consider submitting any manuscript to an agent or publisher. In this case, the manuscript is with a publisher. The submission process is a long and frustrating one. I’ve abandoned more than one manuscript due to repeated rejections.
So… it goes a little like this:
You send out a bunch of query letters. Most will remain unanswered, with a note from the agent or publisher your query mentioning that if you haven’t heard back in a particular time frame, assume the answer is no. That was, when I was still submitting to agents, somewhere around three months. It might be different now. Getting snapped up in the first round of queries is almost entirely unheard of, so several rounds of submitting and hoping can be expected. That’s maybe another year or even two.
Assuming you get an agent, the agent will submit the manuscript on your behalf, which means more waiting. Several months, sometimes. Because I skipped the agent part, and submitted directly to a press, I’ll have an answer either way sooner than others, but there’s still a lot of waiting while the publisher considers the manuscript.
Acceptance isn’t the end of it at all. The publisher will likely want several rounds of edits themselves. This may vary from small fixing of words and timelines, to pretty large structural edits. These can take another few months to get down. Then the publisher must find the cover artist, get the interior formatted, write up a press release, and prepare promotional materials (which is stuff you’re expected to do if you’re publishing yourself… so me, for The New Haven Incident). All this before your book hits the shelves.
As you can imagine, it all takes a while. Patience is a virtue when you enter the writing sphere. It can all get pretty frustrating, especially when you’re excited about a story and really eager to share it with folks.
So if you’re a reader desperately waiting for a particular author’s next piece, please know that most of the time, the writer is just as anxious about it (assuming they haven’t just given up on the story altogether). We’re both, reader and writer, chaffing at the inexorable passing of time. We really want to get our stories into your hands. Most of us, though, want to deliver the best quality we can. And that, alas, takes time.
Please be patient.
That last sentence was directed at me.
When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favorite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, occasionally teaching at the University of Ottawa, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, teaching about historical death, and cuddling a furry murderer. Her latest novels are Skylark, Daughters of Britain, and Human.