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Friday, November 30, 2012

Grooming a Book: Experiences toward Publication

When I first signed my publishing contract with Lyrical Press, Inc. for my debut novel, Red and the Wolf, coming out March 4, I promised I would share with you, my dear readers, the experience. This week, I turned in my galleys, which means this process is almost at an end.

These final days of editing have been bittersweet. Bitter because it has been a long and sometimes arduous process. Sweet because I am nearly at the point of having a book in print and available to the public, I dream I’ve had since age seven. Once Red and the Wolf hits electronic bookshelves, it won’t be the end. I’ll have more books to write, edit, and publish and promotion and all the other bells and whistles that come with being a modern author. Until then, let me share some highlights of the journey.

1) Getting a compliment from an editor does wonders for a writer’s tender ego. Piper Denna, my lovely editor, occasionally commented on something I had done well. I have yet to find anything else that made me feel as good about my work.

2) No matter how many times I went through Red and the Wolf before I submitted it for publication, there were still lots of things that needed correcting. No matter how many time I and Piper went through Red and the Wolf during edits, the copyeditor still caught stuff. No matter how many times I, Piper, and the copyeditor went through Red and the Wolf... You get the idea. It’s impossible to make a book perfect. All any author and editor can do is their best.

3) There were a number of times when Piper and I emailed with questions for clarification. If I hadn’t done this, Red and the Wolf might have gone to print in English with German syntax. No, I’m not kidding. Well, I’m mostly not kidding. I’m sure Piper and I would have ironed it out before the final version, but the point is that communication was extremely important for Piper and me to do our jobs as editor and author, and I cannot imagine creating a decent final product without it. Sure, I was nervous about asking questions sometimes, but I was always glad afterward, and it is a lesson I will take with me throughout my publishing career.

4) After signing my contract and beginning to get edits, my writing life took a spin I have not yet quite pulled out of. Until Lyrical Press agreed to give Red and the Wolf a chance, I worked on my schedule and on whatever project I felt like each day. It doesn’t work as much like that as a pro author. I knew this because I’d heard it from other authors, but experience is its own teacher. It isn’t that I have to get a new book based on specific requirements to Piper in the near future. My contract is for only one book. However, if I wish to build off of any momentum Red and the Wolf gains, I need to follow up with more books in a reasonable amount of time. Even if I didn’t need to worry over that, I was not prepared for the number of edits and editing deadlines necessary to publish a novel. I wasn’t anticipating how dropping any other work I had for Red and the Wolf edits would challenge me. Of course, the edits had to be done, but after each time I turned in a new round, I would have to reawaken my muse and convince her that I still wanted her around and needed her help with a new story. I think she’s getting used to the process. At least, next time, I’ll know better what to expect.

5) Teamwork on this book made a far better product than I ever could alone. Between Piper and my copyeditor and Renee Rocco, the owner of Lyrical Press, Inc. and the designer of my lovely cover, a lot was put into this book to hone it into a salable product. I have heard horror stories and love stories between authors and their publishers. I’m glad to say that my first experience with a publisher has been a good one. Even amidst all the changes I had to make, I felt listened to and like my input meant something. I know no better example of this than my cover which incorporates so well my vision of the characters and the wooded background I hoped for with the style Renee and Lyrical have found that sells best. Of course, time and my readers will be the true test of our success, but for now, I’m glad to say that my initiation into the world of publishing has been a positive one, and to Piper, Renee, and everyone else at Lyrical Press, thank you.

6) As I’ve gone through this process, I’ve reached out to and made good contacts of other Lyrical Press authors. Among them, Candice Gilmer and Mae Clair have become prized. Candice Gilmer drew me in when I discovered her Rescuing Rapunzel and decided to read it since we were both writing fairy tale romance. I never thought anyone could get me to enjoy the Rapunzel story, but Candice did a fabulous job. And Mae Clair shares my love fore werewolves. In her debut novel, Weathering Rock, about a Civil War werewolf hurled through time by fate and ball lightning, I not only enjoyed a fun read but found a kindred spirit in many of my authorial interests. And, of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention Jessi Gage, my critique partner, friend, and fellow author who I have had the honor to go through this process with. Lyrical picked up her debut novel, Wishing for a Highlander, coming out in January, around the same time they grabbed Red and the Wolf.

As I said, this process is far from over. The editing stage is only the beginning. As the time for the release of Red and the Wolf nears and I delve into new aspects of publishing and generally being a professional author, I’ll keep you updated on the experience. Until then, have a pleasant last day of November and don’t forget to join me this coming Monday for the final chapters of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire.


  1. Thank you for sharing, Laura. It's wonderful to read about your experiences and go, ah, so I'm not crazy to feel this way or that way!

    Hugs to you and congrats on your upcoming release of RED AND THE WOLF.

  2. You couldn't have said it better, Laura. As a first time author I felt and experienced all those same peaks and valleys as I went through the learning curve. It's great to have Lyrical behind us and to connect with other wonderful authors. Thanks for mentioning WEATHERING ROCK. I'm glad you're enjoying it and I eagerly look forward to the release of RED AND THE WOLF.

  3. It's fun to get a sense of what lies ahead for me; I'm at the very beginning of the process you're just wrapping up. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks, everyone, and M.Q., good luck on your journey.