Evolution of a Book

The idea for Wild Women, Wild Voices came out of the Wild Women writing workshops I’ve done for many years, dating back to the mid-90s, but it wasn’t until August, 2013 when one morning I suddenly found myself writing a mini-proposal to my editor at New World Library. A little less than a month later I had a signed contract with a pub date of Summer 2014. Fortunately for me, the pub date got bumped to February 2015, then, even more fortunately, to its current release date of NOW!

box o' booksIn between the signing of the contract and the arrival of the books in bookstores and at my doorstep — some 18 months later, a gestation period more akin to an elephant than a human being — are many, many steps. First the idea, which was already in place, but an idea isn’t the same thing as a book. So you build the skeleton (structuring all those bare bones into some kind of coherent form), and do the research. You scratch out the terrible and lengthy first, raw drafts, followed by more research, followed by the second, third, fourth, etc. etc. drafts, and finally, months later, the final draft goes to your editor.

WWWV page proofsThen begins the next cycle: her edits and your rewrites from her edits; the long email exchanges and occasional panicky (on my part; she never panics) phone calls; next the more final final draft and the book goes to the copy editor. Another cycle: the copy editor’s edits, the revises from her edits, the proofreader’s edits, then the revises from her edits, the page proofs (this is where you get to see how the book really looks and where you grin so big your cheeks hurt), then a few corrections and the printer check arrives (this is how the book really really looks), just these last few tiny details, and then, for the longest time: Silence. You hold your breath. The book has gone to the printer.

All along during the back and forths before the book goes to the printer, you’re getting permissions where they’re needed, you’re double-checking references, you’re asking writers you admire if they’d be so kind and generous to “blurb” your book. They are! You’re all giddy and a little shy at what they write. You file away printouts of the first, messy drafts and say a prayer of gratitude for your editor who you’ve come to believe has special, magical powers that mere writers can never hope to possess. (Enduring gratitude to Georgia Hughes)

Judy ReevesYou get a new author photo taken. Your son, a talented photographer, takes several. He’s a patient man. In the end, it’s the very first one he snapped that you choose. You ask if he can, um, touch up a few places. He just smiles.

Also during the back and forth, you get to see the first draft of cover images. It may take a few tries to finally get the cover image everyone agrees on, but it’s worth it. You’re crazy about the cover. (Thank you, Tracy Cunningham). This is also when you find out your book will have an Index. Your first Index!

The in-between is also the time you to see the interior design of the book. Beautiful! Tona Pearce Myers has done it again. And again, you thank whatever benevolent spirit or lucky stars or whom- or whatever is responsible for you getting to have this long and rewarding relationship with New World Library, a publishing company that has brought so many beautiful and important books to the world.

The in-between time is also when you begin dialogues with the marketing staff and once again, you realize how fortunate you are to work with such pros. This is also when you start to get a little anxious and you remember that writing the book is just the half of it. Now you’re required to become a marketing pro yourself. And much as you like to give talks and make presentations and how easily you can go on and on about other writers’ work, making a Big Noise about your own work is a bit intimidating. You remember what your mother said: “Don’t brag on yourself, it’s not attractive.” So there’s that dragon to beat down. Plus you know you don’t know an iota of what you should know about social media.

To be continued …

7 thoughts on “Evolution of a Book

  1. Thank you for this peek into some of the process. What fun and now we can look forward to what you carried around and worked through that long gestation before giving birth. I, too, love A Writer’s Book of Days. It’s a staple on my writing desk, from a friend who highly recommended it. And so it goes….around and around.

    • Your post really gave me a boost this Saturday morning, Barbara. I’m so happy that my book is a partner in your writing process. I hope you love the new one, too. Thank you so much for posting.

  2. Can’t wait to read it! Congrats!!! “A Writer’s Book of Days” has been an enduring favorite of mine that I’ve returned to again and again!

    • Thank you so much Kandace, for posting. I’m so glad “A Writer’s Book of Days” has served your writing. I hope “Wild Women, Wild Voices” will do the same.

  3. Mom is right. Don’t brag on yourself but make sure you get lots of someone else’s to do it. Make sure they notice and appreciate. Ahem. Who me? I don’t do that….

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