It’s said that summer is a slow season in the publishing industry. Offices release staff early for summer Fridays. Editors go on vacation. And everything just happens more slowly when it’s hot, right? So submissions idle longer, and the pace of progress on books under contract stalls out.
At least, that’s what I’d heard.
As it turns out, the summer of 2013 was anything but quiet for me and my debut middle-grade novel, All Four Stars (which comes out in summer 2014).
First, in June, the book formerly known as The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby (and, before that, Gladys Gatsby Takes the Cake), got its official title—this after many months of brainstorming on the part of me, my editor, and countless other people at Penguin.
Then, in July, I received and reviewed copyedits.
I got first pass pages in August. First pass pages are a PDF of your book with pages designed and laid out as they will be in the print copy. For many authors (self included), this is the most exciting step of the entire editorial process, since now the book you wrote actually looks like a real book!
Seeing your cover for the first time is also a “whoa” moment for most authors, and—of course—that happened for me this summer, too. In fact, over the past three months, I’ve seen the cover evolve from a black-and-white sketch to a full-color masterpiece (which I adore and can’t wait to share!).
Hm, what else? I drafted jacket copy this summer; I filled out the detailed Penguin publicity questionnaire (this took days); and there was the excitement/anxiety of approaching a few authors I admire to possibly provide blurbs for my book.
Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, in July I got the green light from my publisher to start working on a sequel to All Four Stars! That deal was announced officially on August 8, and I wrapped up a first draft on September 11. (Yes, that is crazy fast for me—in fact, 96% faster than my drafting process for All Four Stars.)
Looking back on everything I had to do this summer, I’m surprised that I don’t remember feeling more stressed. But believe it or not, I wasn’t. The fact that I got away from my desk every weekends—hiking with my husband, or trying out our new inflatable kayak—surely helped.
But I think I also recognized that this was the honeymoon period for All Four Stars. The heavy lifting of major edits was over, but the demands of publicity and the onslaught potentially soul-crushing reviews hadn’t started up yet. This was pretty much the last time that my book would belong almost exclusively to me.
Now it’s fall. ARCs are coming. I need to revise and turn in Gladys #2. I’m going to be busy—but I think I can handle it. In fact, I may finally be getting the hang of this author thing.
Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering world traveler. All Four Stars, her debut middle-grade novel about an 11-year-old who secretly becomes a New York restaurant critic, will be published in 2014 by Putnam/Penguin.
Find her online at taradairman.com.