The Life Cycle of a Book Deal


So, here at H.Q., a box arrived today. Inside were 24 copies of my novel, Noise. They’re “contract copies”—that is, my contract with Ballantine Spectra says they have to send me a box of these before the book is released to the public. One of the perks of selling a book. More importantly, though, now that I have these in my hot little hands, it’s safe to say that I survived the Publishing Apocalypse of ’09 and can rest pretty easy knowing that it’s unlikely that my novel would be canceled now.

So, since a lot of my buddies are aspiring authors or are waiting through the book deal process themselves, I thought it might be fun to offer you a timeline of a book deal, from signing to release. I went into all this as a blind newb and had to ask a lot of dumb questions along the way. Luckily, my editors, Juliet Ulman and David Pomerico, don’t suck, so I made it through all right. But, to save any of you the same embarrassment, here you go:

• May 7, 2008 → Agent Kris calls to tell me that my novel, then titled Amaranth, sold to (then) Bantam/Spectra. Holy shit!

• June 14, 2008 → My contracts arrive from Random House H.Q. Being a rookie at this, I’m all “Why does it say publication in 2010?”

• November XX, 2008 → I deliver the final manuscript. Having no idea what to do with myself and the story between contracts and turn-in date, I sat around for about five months doing nothing. About a month before the deadline, I thought to ask, “Say, what am I supposed to be doing?” Turns out, I was supposed to be, you know, finalizing the manuscript. So I did that in a hurry.

• March XX, 2009 → The line-edited ms. arrives. I make some changes and send it back.

• September XX, 2009 → The copyedited ms. arrives. I make some more changes and send it back.

• September XX, 2009 → I begin designing Salvage Country, the promotional website to accompany the novel. Recording, editing, and coding all the multimedia will take me about six months. (That’s me and Jeff VanderMeer, doing some voice work for S. Country.)

• January 22, 2010 → Page proofs arrive!

• February 25, 2010 → Bound galleys arrive. (That one belongs to my friend Lauryn—she bought it off someone at ebay for a dollar.)

• June 21, 2010 → My publicist at Ballantine begins “working” Noise.

• August 17, 2010 → My contract copies arrive!

• August 31, 2010 → Release day.

So, there you have it. There are, of course, less interesting details, like when we began/ended the process of changing the title (I know—every author’s worst nightmare. It was actually fun.), but I’ll leave the small surprises for your own Book Deal Life Cycle.

8 thoughts on “The Life Cycle of a Book Deal

  1. Not at all. I wrote it in two parts: 1) “The Book” inside the novel (a manifesto for surviving a collapse) took me about a month 2) the story itself, which I wrote about a month or so after that, took about three months.

  2. Thanks for the response. Had you written any other novels before this? I know this is your first published novel, just wondering if you had a bunch of novels in your desk drawer of if this is your first.

    Sorry for all the questions– I’m a writer myself and I’m always curious how other people do it.

    Book sounds really interesting, I’ll definitely be checking it out.

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