- Get an idea. Brainstorm, research, outline, and put 80,000 words on paper. (Check)
- Revise and send out chapters to critique partners. (Check)
- Revise again, incorporating the feedback received with an empasis on theme or symbolism. (Check)
- Read out loud. Polish. Check for any misplaced commas, etc. (Check)
- Develop the sales tools needed to get the attention of an editor or agent — synopsis, pitch, one-sheet, and proposal. (Check)
- Since the bigger publishing houses only accept proposals submitted through agents or after meeting authors in person at writing conferences … research potential agents and their submission guidelines. (Check)
- Send queries to several agents. Wait to see if they are interested and want to see more of the manuscript. (Check)
- Register for a writers conference. Request appointments with particular editors. Prepare verbal pitches. Hope and pray they request a proposal and/or three chapters after you meet them. (Check)
- Get an agent to agree to represent your work.
- The agent shops the manuscript to specific, targeted publishing houses to attract the interest of an acquisitions editor.
- The acquisitions editor – whether he/she learned of the manuscript from the author or an agent – presents the project (and others) to the publication board. Marketing and sales input is gathered, and they decide whether to offer a contract and set the terms.
- The contract is negotiated and signed.
- The editing process begins. The publishing house sends a letter full of content and plot changes. The author makes the changes and sends the new manuscript back. Copy-editing is done and changes approved. Final galley proofs are sent and signed off.
- Meanwhile, the marketing department develops the back-cover blurb. The cover is designed and approved. The sales team gets the season catalog and makes the rounds to get bookstores to place their orders for books. The author works with the marketing department to get advanced copies out to book reviewers, schedules blog tours, and send out press releases.
- The book is sent to the printer, pre-orders are filled, and the author plans a launch party.
- Marketing continues. Hopefully, lots of people buy the book and tell their friends.
- Repeat. (Except, if you have an agent, skip steps 6 through 9. If you have a multiple-book contract, also skip steps 10 through 12.)
In the last three weeks, I’ve checked off steps seven and eight! One book editor wants to see the first three chapters. One agent wants to see the full manuscript.
Does that mean I have an agent? Not yet. Does that mean this editor will fall in love with my book and be able to convince the publishing board at her company to offer a contract? I hope so, but no guarantees. And I’m still a long way from step 15. However, I am one step closer … and that is worth a celebration.
What about you? If you are a writer, where are you on this path? If not, what path are you on and how do you measure progress toward the goal?