In two hundred and nineteen days, my debut novel, THE QUEEN UNDERNEATH, will be released by Page Street. I've written that sentence and said those words countless times and yet... they don't quite feel real. There are moments that drive it home -- I got to see my cover a few days ago and it is so beautiful and so REAL -- and for a brief second, I could picture holding a book with my name on the spine in my hand. But it slips away, it drifts and turns to smoke. The reality isn't quite tangible enough for me to feel yet, but soon. Two hundred and nineteen days isn't that long. If I were pregnant with this book baby, I'd be nearing the end of the first trimester, and we know I can survive that long. Not patiently, but it can be done.
When I started this part of the journey (we'll talk about writing and querying agents and all that stuff another time), I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I'd do some revisions for my editor and then the book would disappear off my radar until one day I walked into a bookstore and saw it on the shelf. Or something like that...
But for anyone who is interested, I can tell you that this isn't remotely what goes on. I signed the contract with Page Street in February, 2017, but we'd been talking with them since the previous August and I had already done one round of revisions for them before we had a formal offer. The deal was announced in March and I received my first rounds of notes from my editor at the beginning of April. While I was working on those notes, my acquiring editor, Alyssa, left Page Street. I was sad to see her go, and more than a little paranoid about what would happen with TQU, but my amazing agent, Rena, talked me off the ledge and said, "This happens all the time. It'll be okay."
I finished my revisions and submitted them to Lauren, my new editor. I'm a big enough person (now) to admit that I was terrified. Lauren didn't have a relationship with me or my story, yet, and I was worried that she wouldn't love it or care about it.
Sidebar: This was totally rookie paranoia. Lauren has been super awesome. She dove head first into my seedy underworld, embraced my story and my characters, and has done everything she can to make my book a success. And Alyssa, sweetheart that she is, writes to check on me and the book frequently, despite having moved on from the project. While I wholeheartedly acknowledge every author's right to choose their publishing path, I always knew that I couldn't succeed at self-publishing, and this is why. I need these amazing cheerleaders who have taken my story -- a conglomerate of mishmash and nonsense -- and helped me sculpt a novel.
Anyway, I have now revised TQU for Page Street four times, plus worked through copy edits with my copy editor, Ruth. In fact, today (Day 219 prior to publication) I sent in another version. I think this is *close* to being the end result, but editors are not messing around. They know their stuff, and Lauren's not about to let me slide at this late date.
So, I do what they ask. I fiddle and reword, clarify and simplify. And every time I do, I see the artistry and collaborative energies that have gone into every book that has ever been published before. I begin to understand the art of the business, and I am in awe. I hope that I can manage to help every person that has helped birth my book baby, but if I don't, it's due to my own ignorance.
I had no idea what it took to produce the stories that I have loved, my whole life, and now that I'm starting to understand it, I realize that my heroes weren't just the authors the put words to paper, but the editors, publishers, agents, and designers that fought to get it on the page.
Thanks for being on this journey with me.