You Got a Book Contract, Now What?

Last night it really hit me that the process for getting The Exile’s Violin published is far from over. Over and over in my head I kept hearing myself say, “You got that contract. Now what?” I have a feeling that I’m not alone and many first-time authors are asking themselves that same question. So really, now what?

As a writer your job doesn’t end once the ink’s dry on the contract. It’s not all hookers and blow (that can come later if that’s your thing). You still have a lot of work left to do.

Usually what comes first is a round (or two or five) of content edits. Content edits are when an editor reads your manuscript and looks for problems with character development, pacing, plot, structure, names, and continuity. Usually things like spelling, grammar, and sentence structure are overlooked at this stage.

For the most part, this is where all the heavy lifting is done with rewrites and revisions. An editor will make you realize you spelled something one way in chapter two and three different ways in subsequent chapters. They’ll help make your characters more rounded and interesting. A good content edit can help turn a good book into a great book.

Great now that the revisions are done, your job as an author is done, right? Guess again Lazy McLazyperson! (See, a good editor would make a note that that’s not a very good character name) Now it’s onto copy edits and line edits.

I may not know all the semantics between copy edits and line edits, but I know that this stage is all about the words themselves. Now your editors go over your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. They look for spelling mistakes, grammar, sentence structure, and a whole host of other things you probably weren’t thinking about. I’m an author! I throw words on the page and it’s art! Yeah, not always. Sometimes what you think is a wonderful, poetic sentence is just a gurgling mess of adjectives and dangling participles.

Well now the book’s edited and ready to be printed. Time for hookers and blow? Nope! Unless you have a contract with one of the big six, chances are you’re going to have to do some–say it with me–marketing! You got blog tours to arrange, reviews to solicit, blog posts, interviews, press releases, and animal sacrifices to the Marketing Elder Gods to make. Plus you gotta get busy writing that sequel!

As an author you may think your job’s done once you write the book, but it’s really just begun. And that’s what kept me awake last night. But with the proper planning and hard work, this process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. (It can just be regular whelming) I need to remind myself of that. Then maybe figure out who actually celebrates with hookers and blow. That’s a thing big celebrities do, right?