One question I've been asked a lot recently is the most surprising part of getting a book deal. I have a few answers to this, but the most obvious one is how long everything takes. Before I went on this journey, I honestly had no clue what the timing of things would be (and here is where I thank the Apocalypsies for answering my panicked "Should this be taking this long?"s with a resounding yes).
So, in case it's of some interest, I started jotting down when major milestones happened in the genesis of The Mapmaker and the Ghost. Obviously, things vary from publishing house to publishing house. But, from what I can gather, my timing experience from offer to book was pretty standard.
Does any of it surprise you?
June 2009: I sign on with my agent. She starts sending out my manuscript to editors (a different manuscript than The Mapmaker and the Ghost).
July 2009-September 2009: Manuscript #1 gets rejected, though some editors have some very nice/constructive feedback.
September 2009: My agent and I decide to sends out Manuscript #2 (though really it was written before Manuscript #1) to two editors who seemed most interested in MS #1. One editor passes.
December 2009: Editor #2 likes the manuscript but says she wouldn't be able to buy it as is. She will send an edit letter to me in a couple of months to see if I can fix it up.
February 2010: Receive spec edit letter from Editor #2.
May 2010: Hand in revised manuscript to agent, who in turn submits it to Editor #2. My agent gives the editor an exclusive deadline until July.
July 2010: Receive word that though Editor #2 really liked my changes, she is still unable to get full approval from the acquisitions board. She cannot meet the exclusive deadline but will still try. My agent submits the manuscript to a few other houses.
August 2010: Get the call that editor #2 has made an offer!!
September 2010: Offer is accepted (verbally only), editor #2 officially becomes MY editor and I receive my first real edit letter!
November 2010: I hand in my first round of revisions.
December 2010: I receive my second edit letter.
January 2011: I hand in my second round of revisions. I also see the first sketches of my cover art.
February 2011: I receive the copyedited version of the manuscript with a one week turnaround to hand them back in. We settle on a finalized title. I also join the Apocalypsies, a group of 2012 debut children's authors.
March 2011: I receive my contract.
April 2011: I receive my advance check. My deal finally appears in Publisher's Marketplace. Also, I see the first layout of the interior of the book (including title page, chapter heading designs, etc.)
May 2011: I receive first pass pages (the entire book laid out) for proofreading.
June 2011: Cover reveal.
July 2011: My book appears on Amazon and is available for pre-order. I get an official release date and see my jacket copy. I receive my ARCs.
September 2011: I turn in my final proofread.
December 2012: I find out my cover is changing! Also I receive a copy of my first print review which will run in the March issue of Library Media Connection.
February 2012: I reveal my new cover.
March-April 2012: A haze of online marketing blitz. I only partially remember these months.
April 24, 2012: The Mapmaker and the Ghost is released and available for sale almost everywhere!
May 2012: I receive a review from School Library Journal.