Notes from Inside the Magic Book Machine

Rejections: Laura Peterson and Jennifer Flannery

That aside, here are the promised notes on the panel Inside the Magic Book Machine.

Panelists: John Klima, Sean Wallace, Shana Cohen, and Kandi Schaefferkoetter

This panel used Sabrina Jaffries online time line of the publishing process as a springboard, but elaborated on the time line.

Above all, the best way to be the kind of author that your production team wants to see is to be friendly, courteous, and available. Nagging is your agent’s job. Keeping that in mind, here’s what you can expect once your book goes into the black box that is the publishing industry, give or take. Remember, this is AFTER your book is accepted, and your contract is signed. You can expect this to start often after six months, although this varies from publisher to publisher.

According to Jaffries, in the first two months, the editor reads your book. The author will receive an edit letter. This process often does not occur until several months after the book is selected.

During the third month, you may have 2 weeks to revise your book (this varies from agency to agency. An important thing for the author to do at this point is to provide a short 100 word description of the book for visual purposes for cover art. Often this can be back cover text or excerpted from a query letter. Regardless of how long the author has to revise your book, this vital step can not be put off, says Shana. John suggests that an author can negotiate with their editor if they feel that the suggestions are at cross purposes with the book. Don’t do more than simple revising, says Sean. At this point, the book should not be rewritten, character names should not be changed, and so forth. Communicating is key. The thing an author wants to avoid is to have their book slip in the production schedule.

In month 4, the editor reads the manuscript and passes it onto production. An artist is chosen for the cover, into which, most of the time, the author has little to no input.

Month 5 is the copy edit month. There will be work on grammar and spelling. Printer’s marks will be put into the manuscript. A list of places and names will be made to check for book continuity and consistency. The book’s editor will review the copy editors suggestions. The author should get a copy of the original copy edit. Remember that an editor is the author’s cheerleader, and the author should always be professional and friendly.

Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) may also come out during this month. Publishers usually arrange for blurbs.

In month 6, the author gets a couple of weeks for copy edits (sometimes the time is as little as 4 days! It depends on the schedule, the time of year, and the publisher!) Page edits are made. Manuscript is type set. The proof reader takes a look at the manuscript. The publisher begs for blurbs.

During months 7-9, the author looks at page proofs (again 2 days to 2 weeks, depending on the publisher). Marketing begins. Salesmen visit buyers. ARCs are mailed. Copies are sent to the bookstore. Sean mentioned there are 3 book seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer. Galleys are reviewed and changed. It’s important to proofread carefully and take your time hear. Drop everything, said Shana. Take sick days. Be careful.

It was mentioned that an authorshould work hard at getting things in on time or earlier.

During month 10, there will be book signings, reviews, interviews with papers. Actually, some reviews have already been set up in advance for month magazine. The second wave of publicity is for local authors. The book is printed based on order numbers, trying to strike that delicate balance between too few and too many books.

In month twelve, the book is published.

Of course, this process varies, but these are the basic steps.

I found the panel very useful, as my first book goes into production early next year, and I like understanding the rudiments of the process.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

4 thoughts on “Notes from Inside the Magic Book Machine”

  1. Yes, I agree, this was great. I wish I could have seen the panel for sure. Well, I don’t have a book, but seeing the process is still interesting.

    And I understand that all this is supposed to be going on while you’re working on another book, too, right? Hard to believe!

  2. Don’t forget, all these steps take place AFTER you’ve sold the book. So the editor reading the book during the initial months is editing, not reading for the first time. 🙂

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