Last time, in Part 6, I discussed the process of working with an editor and revising your novel. So, now that you’ve moved beyond the delivery and acceptance phase, what comes next? Here are a few of the final steps in the traditional publishing process.
These steps vary quite a bit from one publisher to another, and may or may not happen in this order. But here are some of the things you can expect during the final phases of the publishing process:
Copyedits occur at the end of the editorial process. This is the author’s last opportunity to make major changes! The copyeditor will look for things like grammar issues, continuity, and more, and the author will either approve or deny the suggested changes. Sometimes you’ll even do more than one round of copyedits, depending on the publisher and other circumstances.
- The cover
At some point, you’ll start to see initial cover sketches for your book. (You may or may not have been asked for input beforehand.) Eventually you’ll see the finished cover. Some publishers do cover reveals, where the cover is posted online at a news outlet or blog. Others don’t, and it will be left up to the author to do the reveal themselves if they want one. Regardless, you’ll have to wait for permission to share the cover even after it’s finished. The timeline for this varies greatly; it could be as early as 9 months out or as late as 3.
- First Pass Pages
First pass pages are one of the most exciting steps in the process, because this is when your book starts to look like a real book! After all of the interior design—the artwork and layout, etc.—of the book is finished, it will be laid out exactly as it will look once the book is bound. The author will receive a PDF or hard copy of these pages for review in order to catch any last-minute mistakes. This is especially important because things may have shifted or been misprinted when the pages were laid out, so errors can crop up. A proofreader will also read through them as well to check for mistakes.
At the same time that you’re reviewing the first pass pages, they’re also being sent to the printer so that you can have advance copies printed. These advance copies are often referred to as “advance reader copies” or “ARCs” or “galleys.” These advance copies are “uncorrected,” since they don’t have your notes on mistakes in the first pass pages yet. But they’re important for getting started on promotion and building buzz for your book. ARCs will be distributed to reviewers, librarians, booksellers, etc. and used for a number of promotional purposes. This is also the first time you’ll get to hold your book as an actual, physical thing!
- Second/Third/Fourth Pass Pages
Depending on the publisher, you might do an additional pass to check for mistakes again. Some publishers have in-house teams who handle this, and the author doesn’t see these pages again. Other publishers might ask the author to take another look to check for issues.
- Dedication and Acknowledgments
Somewhere in this process, the author will be asked to turn in the book’s dedication and acknowledgments. Other materials, such as the author bio and cover copy, might be worked on at this stage, but authors don’t always work on these materials themselves. Your editor will let you know which materials they need and when they need them.
I could write an entire series of posts just on promotion, but I did want to mention it briefly here because it’s important to be aware that the author’s work isn’t finished even after the final pages are turned in! Even in the beginning of the publishing process, you’ll want to be thinking about how best to promote your book. Around 6-8 months ahead of release, you’ll probably be put in touch with your in-house publicist to discuss your plans for the book, and you may also be asked to fill out a publicity questionnaire that will help the publicity team come up with the best plan for your book. Aside from that, there will be many things that the author will need to handle on their own, so be prepared for that!
And now, at long last, we’ve reached the end of the process! I’ll have a big wrap-up post to run through all of these steps and an approximate timeline in order to lay it all out at once, so stay tuned for that!
Have any questions about this process? Have any experiences to share? Let me know in the comments!