Welcome back to the Crafting a Book series. This post focuses on what happens after a proposal is accepted by a publisher. You can find the first post, about writing the proposal itself, here. Also make sure to check out the Stash Books blog to hear more about the process from Roxane Cerda and Michele Fry in the coming weeks!
As I waited to hear back about the fate of my proposal, I couldn’t help thinking about what the next steps would look like if it were accepted. I’m excited to continue learning about the publishing process as I work through it, but for now, let’s focus on the immediate first steps.
The first thing I received from Stash after the acceptance email from Roxane was what she referred to as an “infamous” packet of author guidelines. After dealing with my school’s strict dissertation formatting rules–there was literally someone whose job it was to measure page margins with a ruler–I have to say this packet wasn’t any more onerous. It was actually very helpful and kind of fascinating, walking you through the publishing process and the manuscript requirements. (This is coming from a person who read through the Chicago Manual of Style’s chapters on front matter for fun, though, so take my opinions for what you will…)
Before I got too far into the author guidelines, however, Roxane and I talked on the phone about what deadlines I thought would be reasonable. This was not the time to skimp–these deadlines would be included in my contract, so I didn’t want to undercut myself by promising things sooner than I could deliver them. Roxane is careful about not letting authors do that, though, so I was in good hands. I was kind of surprised at how little of the time needed to publish a book actually goes into the manuscript writing phase. (I shouldn’t have been, considering all of the post-production that goes on after the manuscript is turned in, but I was nonetheless.) In order for my book to come out in fall of 2014, I’ll need to have all of the projects and text, as well as supporting items such as illustrations, completed by November of this year. So I have been working like a madwoman on quilts this summer, but by November things will largely be in others’ hands, production-wise. Since I am a
procrastinator deadline-driven person, this timetable works well for me, despite its intensity. Once the deadlines were established, I received a document that outlined what was due when, which became an appendix to my contract. Only after I approved this did I get to see my contract and officially sign on to this project.
Several weeks later, I received the actual contract to review and sign. At fourteen pages, this was no light reading, but everything was laid out in a clear and logical manner. The contract covers things like how and how much I will be paid once the book is published, what I’m responsible for providing to the publisher, and our mutual obligations to one another. The appendix with the deadlines Roxane and I discussed was included, as was one detailing my obligations for publicizing the book. I had a few questions, which Roxane quickly answered to my satisfaction. In fact, the most difficult part of the contract process was trying to use my mouse to sign the electronic forms (sure I can draw with a mouse, but can I achieve reasonable handwriting?…um, apparently not).
While I was waiting to receive my contract, Stash was busy putting together my editorial team. I was so excited to receive an email from my development editor, Michele Fry, and to subsequently speak with her. Michele will be my go-to person during the manuscript writing phase of this project. Shortly after we spoke, I sent her detailed outline of the book. I also sent a couple of sample drafts that she will review; I’ll use her feedback on these to guide my writing for the rest of the manuscript, which I’ll send to her in September as a first draft. I have to say that I’m thrilled with the idea of working with an editor who will assist me in making my text the best that it can be–it makes this project seem less like a test of my writing and more like a team effort. I’m looking forward to working with Michele and I hope you’ll have the opportunity to read about things from her perspective on the Stash Books blog.
The deadlines I set ensured that I was already well into creating the projects and writing the chapters by the time my contract came along. I’ll talk more about that over the next couple months, when I discuss various aspects of writing a craft book manuscript. And you can always follow me on Twitter to hear my day-to-day thoughts and experiences with the book-writing process. And remember to read about the editors’ perspectives on the Stash Books blog!
Thanks again for reading!