Sunday, March 9, 2014


The wheels of publishing turn slowly.
Whoever coined the phrase "hurry up and wait" must have been thinking of the publishing industry. Not that I'm not thrilled with my adventures in publishing so far, but if instant gratification is your goal, better get yourself another gig.

The lead time between making your initial First Contact—assuming you're fortunate enough to snag the interest of an agent or editor after weeks (or months, or years) of seemingly fruitless queries—and the time that something actually begins to happen on the agenting or editing front can be eternal.

First comes the high of an Industry Professional liking your book, which is pretty much unparalleled in the annals of human delight. Soak it in while you can! Because over the next several months, you'll be coasting on fumes.

 In 2007, I started querying agents with an early draft of Alias Hook. (Well, I thought it was a final draft at the time.) Three agents were interested enough to read it, two of whom worked with me extensively on subsequent revisions, but by the end of 2011, I still had no agent, or prospects.

In January of 2012, while sending out a batch of new, freshly rewritten agent queries, I sent the AH ms in toto to Snowbooks in the UK, an indie publisher famed not only for genre niche-marketing (fantasy, horror, steampunk), but for not requiring authors to submit to them through an agent. And then I went back to my life, figuring that, like all the agents I'd been querying lately, I would simply never hear back from them again.

Which I didn't for seven month—until the end of July, when I received the email authors dream of: Snowbooks was "in love with" Alias Hook and wanted to publish it!

Because SB is a small press, things happened pretty quickly after that, by publishing standards. I was sending out blurb requests in September, and my book had a gorgeous cover (gold foil, yet!) by the end of the month. By November, I was formatting my final edit. Still, it was May before the finished book arrived on shelves in the UK.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's about nine months from acceptance of the ms to finished book—and that's under the speediest possible circumstances. As a point of reference, Art Boy can complete a painting in 2-3 weeks and move on to the next project. I feel like such a slacker!

Meanwhile, in January of 2013, I had a phone call from Pete Wolverton, Associate Editor at Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press in the States. We spoke for 20 minutes, at the end of which time, he told me he would be making an offer for the rights to publish a US edition of Alias Hook.

Callou! Callay! Based on his sound advice, I blithely wrote a spanking new one-page prologue to set up my story; I figured we'd be starting the revision any minute! I spent two days filling out an official Author's Questionnaire from TDB, and I was checking my email constantly for news of those revision notes Pete was going to send me, or the contract with SB. And checking, and checking...

The contract between the UK and US publishing houses was not officially signed, sealed, and delivered until September. Yup, another nine months later. Pete's notes finally began arriving in my inbox in October. Happily for me, 85-90% of his suggestions were right on, and the rest were negotiable. The entire editing process only took us about two weeks—once we finally got to it.

Adavance Reading Copies (ARCs) of Alias Hook are going out to meet the press as we speak. But, the US edition originally planned for a Spring 2014 release, has now been repositioned to July. (The better to bring it out with a bang, my new publicist at TDB tells me.) Still, it hasn't exactly been a sprint to the finish line. That heavy breathing you hear is me trying to coax a little more mileage out of those fumes!


  1. 9 months and 9 months again. Lawsy, Miss Scarlet - I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies!

  2. There's a good reason they compare publishing to childbirth—except publishing takes so much longer!