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What Happens After a Manuscript is Accepted?

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens after an author submits a story and a publisher accepts it? Well, I’m not an expert, and I can only speak for my own experiences with e-publishing. Other authors may have very different experiences. But here is mine.
1. The author has read, polished, re-read and re-polished the story and submits it to a publisher.
Let’s pretend that the publisher decides they want to offer a contract for the book with no pre-contract revisions requested. (Sometimes a publisher may think the story has promise, but they want  to see some changes before they accept  the book.)
2. In a few days or a week, the publisher sends a contract to the author to sign. Contracts differ from publisher to publisher.  The author reads over the contract, makes sure s/he has no questions or concerns (The house I’m with, Liquid Silver Books, has a very straight forward, easy to read contract) and if s/he is satisfied, the author signs the contract and returns it to the publisher.
3. The publisher sends a Cover Art form to the author. The author describes his/her characters, perhaps some key scenes from the story etc, and returns it to the publisher.
4. After a month or three the editor contacts the author and the editing process begins. This might take a couple months, depending on how many times the editor and author go through the story. My editor did a first pass to have me correct some grammer and basics, and then a second pass to add some more description and round out some scenes, and a third polishing pass.
5. The artist turns in his/her initial mock up cover art and the publisher sends it to the author. The author may make some suggestions or want some changes made. These suggestions may or may not be accepted. The author has limited control over his/her cover.
6. The author writes a blurb about the story, about 100 words. It should tell a reader what to expect and “hook” them so they’ll want to read it.
7. Final cover art is submitted and approved. The publisher sends it to the author. The author (that is to say, ME) will show it off to everyone, even complete strangers, and post it on their website or blog.
8. Final Line Edits are sent to the author. The copy editor is probably a different person than the previous editor. This is the final edit to catch any spelling and grammar errors, and perhaps some details that may detract from the story.
9.  The author is given a Release Date. S/he may do some special blogging or other types of promotion for the new book.
10. The book comes out!
11. Royalties come pouring in. (Hopefully. 🙂  But for someone like me who has never been paid for writing, even a small check is exciting.)
For most epublishers the time from signing the contract to release is around 6 months. My first book was 4 months two weeks from signing the contract to the release date. Right now I’m at step 3 for Wolf’s Glory, and have Tracking Tami about 1/3 of the way written in rough draft. 
I’ve always loved to write. Now it’s a job, so I have to take it more seriously and be sure I can meet deadlines. Sometimes it seems a little less fun and more like work, but I still love it.

8 Responses to What Happens After a Manuscript is Accepted?

  • Your time line seems to be right on target for the epubs I have been with as well.

  • Its a little bit more complicated for a print book-or it can be. 🙂
    I also sell on proposal these days which means I write a blurb, a high pitch concept a synopsis and a few chapters, which I then send to my agent. She passes them onto the editors and they decide if they want to make an offer on the book or usually the books as I tend t o offer two or three at a time.
    This process can take quite a while or can be quite quick. Most of mine have been pretty quick.
    Then it takes months and months to see a contract which goes through my agent. I sign it and send it back and then we start the editing process which is usually two or three major passes through the manuscript.
    Cover art appears quite early in the process and it depends on the publisher,as to how much input I get.
    When the ms is approved by the editor I get copy edits either in paper form with sticky notes all over them or online. I prefer the online version.
    After that I’ll get galleys which are always in paper form and look like the unbound pages of the finished book. This is the last opportunity to correct those small errors before the book is published, usually 9 months to a year and a half after the original contract was signed.

    Sorry that got a bit long-winded LOL

    • No worries about being long winded, Kate. Thanks for letting us know how print pubs differ. This is fascinating!

  • Hi Maddy, great blog and pretty much the process that I have experienced. Kate, it’s very interesting to hear about the print book process too.

  • I think you nailed it Maddy, but for me the after acceptance stage went something like this:

    1) Excitement!!! Dancing around kitchen and then hanging up from editor and screaming like a banshee in heat. (this was on the first book I ever sold – now I usually get acceptances through email and show a bit more decorum.)

    2) Pure unadulterated panic. (I need to hurry and write something else to send in)

    3) Edits. (All right this isn’t so bad. I can do this.)

    4) Cover art form (How am I supposed to reduce my 500 word blurb to only 50) – More panic.

    5) Galleys (OMG!!! Why are all my italics gone?) – Extreme panic.

    6) Release date – (I can’t wait – I’ll get to hold/see one of my books out there for the reading masses) – Happy sigh.

    7) Promotion – (Panic and frustration have a bastard child and name it Marketing – I so suck at this stage.)

    8) Cashing the checks – (I really like that shiny new computer I saw on bestbuy.com – It’s affordable too.)

    9) Sending in the next book -(Panic. Hit refresh. I hope they like it as much as I did. Hit refresh again.)

    10) Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    – Kat

    • Kat, lol! I remember staring at the computer for long minutes after I read my acceptance email from the publisher. No expression on my face except shock, and a sick feeling in my stomach. Then I re-read the email over and over before grabbing on of my cats and hugging her so hard she squeaked.

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