What’s the earliest you’ve ever pre-ordered a book? Would it surprise you to know that most books can be pre-ordered seven months before their release? As the author is still dealing with line edits, blurbs and descriptions are written, the cover finalized and the catalog is produced.

If you could read the excerpt in this catalog you’d see that two of the characters mentioned don’t appear in the final version of Sixty Acres and a Bride. You won’t find Naomi and Augustus, but you will find Louise and Nicholas. Those names were changed during editing, but the catalog couldn’t wait for the final product before it needed to make the rounds.

Approximately five months from the release the author receives the copy edits. Finally, we’re getting to the nitty-gritty. No more big changes, now we’re looking at grammar, fact checks and word choice. With my publisher the copy edits are mailed, printed out single-sided and double spaced. I’m always surprised how different print looks on paper as compared to the screen. Word duplication will jump out at me. Sentences I’ve read twenty times will suddenly look choppy on the page. Proof-reading a physical copy is a must.

While I’m looking over the editor’s remarks, a similar copy is being mailed to “media influencers”. This is the Advanced Reader’s Copy or the ARC.

It’s a no-frills early edition sent to help reviewers get their reviews published before the release. Here’s something to make a writer wake-up with nightsweats – the copy the reviewers get contains the editor’s remarks. So as the reviewer reads through your story he’s interrupted by boldface comments like – So Rosa’s skirt is blue? I thought you said on the last page it was red? or Did you mean the picture was of Weston’s grandmother? You said his abuela and that means grandmother. 

I’d imagine they’ve had some good laughs.

Immediately following the copy edits are the galleys. This copy is mailed as well, but it is formatted exactly as it will appear in the book. This is the author’s last chance to make any corrections. Changes should be minimal and are written on the page. When the galleys are mailed in, you have signed off that this is precisely what you want to be published.

Naturally, at this time the marketing department is humming with activity. They are buying ads and creating promotional products like postcards, bookmarks and shelf talkers. They are lining up interviews, blog posts, and guest appearances for the author. The marketing department plans far into the future and is prepared before a single book comes off the press.

Editing has to be even further ahead. By December the first draft of my second book Love in the Balance was due. The synopsis on the third book was due a few weeks later and the process begins again.

The first copies of Sixty Acres and a Bride were printed about a month before the release date and they began shipping at the first of the year. By February 1, every store that pre-ordered had the book in stock and the online stores could begin shipping to customers.

The time between signing the contract and holding my book seemed an eternity, but when I consider how many people were involved in its production and how much was accomplished, I’m grateful for the time they took to give Sixty Acres a successful launch.

In which part of the production process would you most like to be involved?

(Part 1, Part 2)

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