If there were one thing I wish someone had told me before I dove into this book publishing process it is have patience. Since patience has certainly never been my virtue, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it, but knowing that the glacially slow pace of the publishing world is normal would have saved me a whole lot of sleepless nights and stress eating.
Publishing a book just takes forever. It’s like building a house or insert-unwieldy-and-unpredictable-project-here. I’d say a rule of thumb is, take whatever amount of time you assume the process will take and then, like, triple it.
Here’s how the timeline looked for me:
- Living the story that would become the book (3+ years)
- Finding an agent and writing a book proposal (3 months)
- Re-writing the book proposal and sample chapters to submit to publishers (6 months)
- Talking with publishers and selling the book (1 month)
- Waiting for the book contract (7 excruciatingly slow months)
- Writing the freaking book (off and on for 3+ years)
- Multiple rounds of edits and copyedits (5 months)
- From first words on page to book in store (~4.5 years, which is actually a pretty quick turn around I think)
This doesn’t include the time I’ll invest in the publicity and marketing campaign (forthcoming), which I plan to dump everything I have into. I figure, I have devoted so much time and energy to creating this book that it would be crazy not to spend at least that much time and energy making sure that people know it exists.
And guess what? After all of that, my book has a birthdate: April 1, 2017. Seven months away. (See what I mean about patience?) In some ways it’s like being pregnant all over again. The waiting, the daydreaming, the fear, the hope, the bubbling, boiling, cauldron of emotion that churns in my gut as I wait for this thing to be born into the world.
But as long and as daunting as the book publishing process has been, I have loved everything about it. This is my dream- my dream come true– and even on the nights when I was up past midnight with a newborn in my lap and a cup of coffee on my desk, dead tired and pecking away at my keyboard, I’d think to myself, I get to do this. This. Is. Happening. For. Real.
There were a lot of days and nights like this.
I finished my final round of copyedits just last week. Do you want to know what I did when it was over? I didn’t cry or dance or drink a margarita (though all three sound appealing). I took a deep breath, opened a blank Word document, and I started my next book proposal.
An aside: I have recently started working one-on-one with non-fiction writers, helping them with the process of writing a book proposal and finding an agent. If this is something that appeals to you, please contact me. Unfortunately, I have a limited amount of time and can only take on a few new writers, but it has been thrilling to help new authors navigate this daunting path and I would love to work with you (Yes, YOU. Let’s bring your book into the world!)
I want to write books for the rest of my life. I just feel very strongly that this is what I am supposed to do. So when the panic of book reviews and the vulnerability of exposing myself to a larger audience gets to be too much (as another first-time author told me, “I worry that people will read the book and I worry that they won’t.” Amen!) I try to shut out all of that noise and come back to the singular, original truth: This is what I am supposed to do. This is why I took that terrifying step away from my cubicle. This is why I felt called to explore the world. This is what I love to do and (the miracle!) is that I get to do it. I’ve done my part. The way the book is received is, in many ways, out of my hands.
I am so lucky. But also? None of this would be happening if I hadn’t listened to my own inner truth and taken a massive leap of faith. I cannot stress this enough. Please, listen to the voice inside of you that longs to be heard. (That’s pretty much what my self-published book Life on Fire is all about).
I can’t freaking wait for you guys to read The Yellow Envelope.
This is the photo I took after finishing the full manuscript of my book. There were months of edits ahead of me, but, (I admit it!) I cried tears of joy that day.
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