7.2 GETTING A DEAL AND THE COUNTDOWN TO PUBLICATION
You did it! You are now one of the tiny percentage of human beings who said they were going to write a book, actually did so and really sold it! It’s the moment you dreamed of and you should celebrate the very heck out of it – enormous congratulations!
The journey to publication is less a road, more a roller coaster. It has more highs and lows than an opera score and it is as well to be prepared from the outset. I often compare books to babies – the wait for publication is essentially your pregnancy and like that hallowed experience, is a heady mixture of life-affirming excitement and bone-crunching fear.
Here are some of the truths I learned from my publication pregnancy – although just like babies, your own one will be unique to you.
Prepare for the slowest months/years of your life
- Everything in publishing moves at a glacial speed (except deadlines, which seem to come around every five minutes!) and time stands still when you are waiting for your book to come out. You’ll be busy with many parts of the process, but that date circled in your calendar can seem so far out of reach. Stay busy. It will come.
Writing is editing
- I had NO idea how long and demanding the editing process would be when I embarked on my debut novel – I thought most of the work was behind me. WRONG! Unless you are incredibly lucky or supremely gifted or have an editor who has the lightest of touches, you will face:
– Structural edits: The heavy-lifting edits, where the big stuff gets fixed – concept, plot, character, structure… there are usually several and all are hard. But you WILL get there.
– Line edits: This is where you take a closer look at the text itself – are you being too free or spare with your prose? Is it funny enough? Is that the best word etc
– Copy edits: These are usually done by a specific copy editor who will look for factual accuracy, legal and continuity points. Did you start a scene on a Thursday and then say it’s the weekend? This is where those errors will get picked up.
– Proof edits: Also usually given to a specialist, now we’re looking for errors – typos, homonyms, all that daft stuff we’ve all missed hitherto.
These are likely to fill many of the intervening months (six at least in my experience), so make sure you know how much work is ahead and schedule your time/life accordingly.
You have a say
- I can feel the collective screams of publishers as I type, but do remember that this is YOUR book and you need to be happy with what’s going on. Covers, publicity schedules, special sales… you might not be able to stamp your foot over all or any of these things, but you have a right for your voice to be heard. This is where your agent will be invaluable – any bones of contention can be relayed through them. Your power will be dictated by the terms of your contract to a large extent, but publishers want to keep their authors happy and it’s as well to raise anything that you’re worried about up front to save issues later.
Life does go on
- It is vital to remember that it could be a very long time before you see any money from this book. Unless you got a huge advance, or your book has sold to kerbillions of territories, the chances are that this book alone will not sustain you financially for some time – frankly, if ever. This isn’t said to harsh your vibe, but I was self-employed when I got my first book deal and put a lot of work aside to work on a novel that paid me little for years, getting myself into some major financial difficulties. Yes, this is super exciting. But be realistic about the financial realities of publishing before you let other work slide
- All of this having been said – YOU DID IT!!! That seed of an idea you had way back when is going to be AN ACTUAL BOOK! Remember that if the going gets tough. Just like labour – I promise, it is all worth it in the end!
Good luck, friend! Raising a glass of lukewarm prosecco to you as you head for launch!
Maz’s debut children’s novel Who Let the Gods Out was published by Chicken House in February 2017 and was selected as the Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month. It entered the bestseller charts on its first week on sale, has sold to 18 countries worldwide and has received over 20 award nominations, including the Carnegie Medal, Branford Boase, Books Are My Bag and Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Year.
The sequel, Simply the Quest was published in August 2017, Beyond the Odyssey in April 2018 and Against All Gods in February 2019. Maz also narrates the audiobooks for the series.
Her acclaimed creative writing events have featured at Hay, Imagine, Edinburgh, Bath, Cheltenham, Latitude, Wilderness and many other literary festivals and primary schools around the UK.
Maz began her career as a TV journalist, critiquing for The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sun, and TV Times magazine and she still regularly broadcasts her views on anything from politics to parenthood on BBC Radio 2, BBC News, BBC Radio 4, Five Live and the bus. Maz has participated in the Casualty and Holby City BBC shadow schemes and her children’s poetry has been published in Caterpillar magazine.
Maz is much in demand as a comedy book and lyrics writer for the stage. Her original musical H. R. HAITCH, with composer Luke Bateman, was produced by Iris Theatre at the Union Theatre, London in 2018. She has previously had shows produced at the Actors’ Church Covent Garden, Southend Palace Theatre and Bryanston Arts Centre. Her cabaret songs are regularly performed in the West End and beyond.
As a songwriter, Maz has won the Iris Theatre Work in Process songwriting award three years in succession (with composer Luke Bateman). As a scriptwriter, she won thescriptwriter.co.uk scriptwriting competition and a place in Philip Shelley’s Advanced Mentoring Lab at the London Screenwriters’ Festival. She was also shortlisted for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum and the Scriptangel contest. As an author, she has won the hearts of thousands of children and as a nuclear physicist, she has been completely rubbish.
Maz also runs our MG Mentoring course.