I mentioned when I sold Wooden Bones that I’d try to give a little more of an inside view of the process as things chug along. Selling a book to a major New York publisher like Simon and Schuster is a long process. Going from selling a book to seeing it in a bookstore in anything less than a year is lightning fast, and a year and a half is more typical. Right now we’re looking at a summer 2012 release date for the book.
After a book is accepted for publication, at some point along the way a writer usually receives an editorial letter from his editor detailing any changes the editor is hoping the writer makes, which I received for Wooden Bones a couple months ago. These letters can vary wildly depending on the editor, the publishing house, and the book. The requested revisions on Water Balloon Boys were extremely minor. The ones on Wooden Bones were slightly more substantial, which caused me to sweat a bit, but after really working with the text, it turned out to be a lot of little things that I think made the book even better. Of course, now that I’ve turned the book in, we’ll see what my editor thinks. Most likely they’ll be a little more back and forth before the book is approved and sent into production, which means it will get assigned cover art, receive a copy edit (which is different than editorial revisions), etc.
Do I take all of an editor’s suggestions? Heavens no. Sometimes my vision is slightly different. Do I consider them all, and then take any suggestions I think will make the book better? Absolutely. I’d be a fool not to, especially when I’m dealing with the caliber of editor I’ve got on this book. My goal is the same as his: To publish the best book possible.
But as for what happens next, well . . . nothing. At least for a little while. For me, I’m working on another project, but nothing happens with this book until I hear from my editor again. I think what a lot of readers may not realize is how little contact most writers have with their editors (well, at least writers who don’t bother editors unless they really have a good reason, a category I certainly put myself in). In the whole process, as long as things go smoothly I doubt I’ll talk on the phone more than once or twice and exchange maybe a dozen emails. And that’s perfectly normal, especially for a very busy publisher.