The road to publication is paved with more than good intentions

I have often been asked, ‘When is your novel going to come out?  We know you’ve been with an agent and a publisher for a while, but when can we buy your book and where?’

Well, I thought it would be helpful to explain the journey from being signed up with an agent to the day a novel arrives in its completed form to purchase.

I’m sure that most novelists will agree that it takes time to get signed with an agent. I’ve read recently that agents can receive around 1,500 submissions a year, and then, after reading those submissions, but not necessarily all of the manuscripts, they only take on a few new authors a year.  I feel lucky, as I had a few nibbles from agents, but there were a good few rejections and quite a few silences, before I signed with my wonderful agent – so I think it is important to remember that your novel might not necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea, but keep going as someone will love it! 

Once I had signed with my brilliant agent, she made a couple of suggestions to tighten my work before she sent it off to publishers in a process that is known as ‘pitching’.

I had a couple of publishers making offers – a tough decision choosing with offers essentially going to auction, but I know I made the right choice. However, what I hadn’t realised was that the work was just beginning.

The first thing my editor did was to make structural edits and suggestions on how to tighten up the narrative. I think that this was the hardest edit, and I had a month or so to turn the edits around.

Once I’d sent those edits back, the next round of edits arrived a month or so later. This time, line edits – that sentence doesn’t work here, or cut that sentence out, etc. The timescale taken to do this was a couple of months, bringing us to about Easter.

The next round of edits consists of copy edits. This is done with microscopic attention to every full stop, comma, speech mark, along with many, many facts that are checked and rechecked for accuracy.  It’s a bit overwhelming to see your work coming back with so many comments, but it’s not so bad changing them with the ease the computer offers, and I’d say that it took me a week to get through most of them, although the copy-editor’s role had taken much longer.

So, that takes us to where we are now, August – around nine months since the process began, and we’ve still not finished yet.

The next stage is proof-reading, then typesetting, after which I’ll get a pdf to check one last time before the manuscript is turned into a proof copy for one final proof-read.

On top of that, there are still the cover visuals to be designed, confirmation of the title, as well as asking authors who write in a similar genre to write author recommendations. When all of this has been done, I will receive a copy of the uncorrected proof. This will be the first time that I see my manuscript as it will look as a book!  Very exciting!  Yay!!!! But the process still isn’t finished yet.

At this stage, very small typos can be corrected, and once that’s done, that’s it, off to print to produce the final copy, complete with author endorsements, blurb etc., but the book still won’t be ready for public purchase.

The next step is to send copies to reviewers, bloggers, influencers and others who will read and leave reviews on forums, such as Netgalley, in advance of general release so that there are reviews to inform readers what they felt about the book, (ever wondered why there are reviews of a book before it’s available to buy? Well, that’s the reason).

And then, finally in February, my novel will be available to buy, firstly, as an e-book and then in March as a paperback.

This might seem like a an incredibly long time, but it takes about a year for all of this to happen. Meanwhile, my second novel has been written, and the whole process will start again.  

It is very exciting, and I will be sure to keep you posted, especially with the cover reveal and updates about publication dates! Meanwhile, you can keep posted by visiting my website,, my writer’s page on Facebook @WritingMatter, Twitter @PGreenlees, or Instagram #paulagreenlees.

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