In this series, 'The Path', I'll discuss my journey, as it's happening, in going from manuscript to commercial publication for the first time.
In the last post, I talked about the developmental edit process I went through in collaboration with my editors at Sourcebooks. This time, I’ll talk about what’s happened since I turned over the ‘final’ version of the book to go into production.
As always, keep in mind that experiences will vary; this is just what my path looked like.
As I noted in the last “The Path” entry, I turned in the final version of the DARK THINGS I ADORE manuscript to my publisher mid-October 2020, after four rounds of developmental edits.
You might be thinking: Okay, so you turned in the final manuscript in October 2020, but the book doesn’t come out until September 2021. That’s almost a year later. What in Sam Hill goes on between those two dates?
Fair question. And as it turns out, a lot.
To make things a little snappier, I’ll put the highlights of what has happened so far into a timeline format. If you have questions about stuff I don’t cover here, just email me at: katie[at]katielattari[dot]com!
THE PRE-PUBLICATION TIMELINE (so far)
October 2020 - I turned in the final draft manuscript of what was then called BENEFACTION to Sourcebooks.
October 2020 - Sourcebooks pitched me a different title for the book that they felt would be more marketable, eye-catching etc., based on research and lots of internal discussion. The title they came back with was DARK THINGS I ADORE (which is such an improvement and totally captures what the book is about!). I enthusiastically approved the change.
November 2020 - I drafted and provided to my editor personalized query letters asking six major authors in my genre to read and, if they ended up liking it, blurb my book. The editorial team and my agent also put out a wider swath of asks to other highly respected authors in the genre simultaneously to make sure we landed at least a few -- a lot of authors have very busy schedules or are already booked solid with blurb requests, so you have to ask pretty widely to get a handful (especially for an unknown like myself, was the sense I got).
November 2020 - Received the “back cover copy” for the book. In other words, the snappy summary paragraph that will go on the back of the eventual physical book. The editorial team, myself, and my agent went back and forth with this to make it as good as it could be. Again, lots of collaboration.
November 2020 - Received the manuscript back with my first round of copy-edits. In the copy-edit phase, you review and then approve or reject changes the copy editor at the publisher sends along; everything from typos to spelling errors to suggestions for ways to clarify sentences, etc. I was given about a month to do my side of it.
December 2020 - Received the first draft cover of my book! This was a very exciting moment. I was lucky in that I was totally on board with the overall concept they presented; we just haggled over smaller things like font choice and size. (Titan Books, the UK publisher of DTIA, provided their cover for approval at a slightly later date; UK cover below).
December 2020 - Provided Sourcebooks a content warning for the book since it contains themes related to mental health struggles and suicide.
January 2021 - Received the formatted version of the book for review. This is when the publisher “poured” the text of my book from the word doc I’d been working in for years into the official template for the book. It’s also when I was asked to review this new formatted text for all the persnickety formatting my story ended up needing -- special indents, brackets, etc. This document was referred to as the “ARC pages” (Advanced Reader Copy pages).
February 2021 - We started to hear back from authors who were willing to read and blurb the book! In the end, we ended up landing Eliza Jane Brazier (If I Disappear), Zoje Stage (Getaway), Sarah Langan (Good Neighbors), and Katie Lowe (Possession), all of whom are AMAZING! I got really lucky.
February 2021 - I met (via Zoom) with the marketing lead from Sourcebooks and my agent to go over the marketing plan for DARK THINGS I ADORE. The marketing lead came with a 2-3 page document laying out the plan of action over the coming 6-7 months. This included everything from Goodreads giveaways to Bookstgrammer outreach to custom social media graphics to pitching all the major industry publications (Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, New York Times Book Review) for features or reviews, as well as pitching all the major book clubs (Reese’s/Hello Sunshine, Good Morning America, Belletrist) for possible inclusion. It’s hard to differentiate yourself and get coverage with so many books out there, so anything we get will be great.
February 2021 - Sourcebooks sent me a box of ARCs (Advance Reader Copies), which are soft cover bound manuscripts that have not yet been through final copy-edits. They’re sent out to reviewers, influencers, etc. to start to build buzz around the book. It was also around this time that Sourcebooks made the e-book version available on the websites NetGalley and Edelweiss for more pre-publication reviewer access.
February 2021 - Sourcebooks did a 25-copy ARC giveaway through Goodreads.
March 2021 - The blurbs from those great authors I mentioned above began to roll in and get finalized.
April 2021 - Sourcebooks sent me the second round copy-edit pages for review.
April 2021 - Sourcebooks had me review and approve the full, final version of the hardcover dust jacket.
May 2021 - I learned that DARK THINGS I ADORE had been selected as a Publishers Lunch “Buzz Book” for Fall/Winter 2021, which was awesome news!
June 2021 - Second round marketing call with Sourcebooks to check in on the status of all the moving parts having to do with marketing and publicity efforts.
June 2021 - DTIA received a Library Journal STARRED review!
June 2021 - DTIA reviewed by Publishers Weekly!
July 2021 - An exclusive excerpt from DTIA was released on The Nerd Daily.
July 2021 - Sourcebooks is doing a 50-copy giveaway of the final hardback through Goodreads (you can enter to win one July 19 - August 6, 2021!).
So that pretty much brings us up to date. And there’s still almost two more months before the book releases on September 14, 2021!
So what’s next? A lot of it is wait and see -- this is a period heavy in wait-and-see.
What do I do know?
In late July I’ll have a third round marketing call with Sourcebooks to check in. The hope is that more buzz builds and the book is able to get some more coverage before (and after) release to help fuel sales, library requests, etc.
As you can see, this is a phase where the publisher is doing the lion’s share of the work and the writer is there to review, accept, reject, collaborate, and take note of what’s going on. It’s also a time to be thinking about what marketing I can do on my own.
Though Sourcebooks has been doing the heavy-lifting on DARK THINGS I ADORE for the past year or so, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing some heavy-lifting of my own!
I wrote a new book (which I’m very excited about!) that has been passed along to my agent for a first read (I got that over to her in June 2021). Here’s to hoping I’ll get the chance to start this whole whacky edit-pitch-edit-publish process all over again! And maybe this time, if I do get lucky enough to sell another book, I’ll move through the process with more wisdom, skill, and grace -- it would be nice to shave off some of those painful months of revision.
But I’ll take what I can get. :)
Hopefully, more soon!
Until next time…
Black lives matter.
And happy reading,