/* new */

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From Sale to Shelf: Part 1

One of my readers said it surprised her to learn that selling a book wasn't the "end" of the writing process. I figured a number of other people might share Valt's mystification, so I thought I'd step through the entire process over the next few posts.

To start:
My publisher is Roc Books, an imprint of New American Library, which is a division of the publishing giant Penguin Putnam. My editor, Anne Sowards, works for Penguin, editing books for Roc and also for Ace, another fantasy/sf imprint of PP. Imprints are specialized divisions that produce books of related styles/genres. My agent, my business representative, is Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency. In brief: editors work with words, while agents work with contracts.

Transformation and Song of the Beast were written before my first sale. When my first editor read Transformation back in 1999, she, with the approval of her managers, made me an offer to publish the two books. My agent, who is my business representative, negotiated the deal. As a result of the negotiation, the deal actually included three books: Transformation, Song of the Beast, and the unwritten sequel to Transformation that was later called Revelation.

Literary contracts specify the specific book/s to be published. If the work isn't written as yet, the contract specifies the type of work it will be, the subject matter, genre, tentative title. Contracts also specify the delivery date of the manuscript (so the publisher can schedule a release date), the specific rights the publisher is buying (some subset of North American rights, translation rights, audio, electronic, book club, film, gaming, spinoffs, and others), and many other particulars. Agent Kristin Nelson has done a great series explaining all the common clauses of literary contracts on her blog Pub Rants.

For my newer deals I sell books before they are actually written - on proposal. Sometimes the proposal is a multi-page synopsis (The Sabrian Veil series). Sometimes it's only a paragraph (Flesh and Spirit). As always, my editor has to decide if she wants the book/s enough to sell the deal to her superiors. Sometimes the editor has to fight for a book, because there are many other fine proposals and they can't buy them all. Just because an author has published before doesn't ensure the proposal will be accepted. But assuming it is, hooray! - my agent negotiates the new contract. Once it's signed, I start writing. [See my first Unholy Alliance post for how I go about that.]

I've only missed a contracted date once (yes, obstreperous Valen was the reason). I negotiated a new date beforehand.

Now skip forward a year or so...

Whoa, not quite yet. There are a few other things that go on before the book is written, depending on the editor. Some editors require outlines or more detailed synopses. Thank goodness, my editor does not. If you've been following the way I write, you see that is not at all a part of my process!

If the book I'm writing is a sequel, I might need to provide an opening scene to stick in the back of the previous book as a teaser. And there are all those other things that go on all year, every year: marketing the last book, doing conferences and conventions, blogs and forums and newsletters, and updating the website, and networking...

But most of the time is writing, writing, and the due date approaches inevitably.

So I have agonized and plotted, written and rewritten, making the manuscript the best I can make it. I'm always up late the night before - just like college! - but at last I ship off a paper copy to New York. And then, I wait.

Tomorrow...the book is not nearly done yet. On to Revisions...


Anonymous said...

Such an interesting post. I can't wait to read the second part :-)

It's interesting to know what's the life of an author is really about. Sometime I think that we would-be-writers don't really have a clou of what the real thing is. We live of a lot of metropolitan legends ;-)

carolwriter said...

I certainly didn't know the ins and outs before I lived them!