After reading Jane’s post about joining Twitter, as well as a number of in-house discussions about how we should ALL be tweeting, I signed on as well (@johnwrudolph). And while I’m still hemming and hawing about my inaugural tweet (I know, I know—time to get off the pot), Twitter has already proven its worth. Thanks to Twitter, I found a subject for today’s post!
Actually, the real thanks here is to Veronica Roth, author of the YA bestseller Divergent, whose blog was tweeted by someone I follow. Yesterday, Roth posted a great piece on her website, “A Peek Behind the Publishing Curtain,” which outlines the various milestones in the publishing process from acquisition to publication. It’s one of the most clear, readable dissections I’ve seen on how a book gets made, and it does a great job of answering the question every exasperated writer asks at some point—why the *$%#? is this taking so long?!?!
(One caveat: Roth writes from the perspective of a highly successful author whose next book is already under contract. So, for the first-timer, I would replace Step 1 with the submission process, which likewise can anywhere from a few months to over a year. And then, once the book finds a home, an editor will basically treat the manuscript like a rough draft, so the rest of the schedule holds up.)
In particular, I love how Roth focuses on the physical aspects of bookmaking. I always think it’s important for authors to keep in mind that regardless of content, in Econ 101 terms a book is a manufactured product, and so it’s great how Roth shows that production issues like paper weight and shipping necessarily contribute to the time lag. I also like how she sums up the interplay between sales and manufacturing, and that there actually is some method for arriving at the number of copies that are printed.
So, if you ever find yourself at that point of screaming in frustration that your book still hasn’t seen the light of day, reread Roth’s piece and see where you are in the process. It will probably explain things more clearly that the fumbling apologies of your editor (or agent)!