ONE WEEK LEFT

I skipped the countdown yesterday, but I'm back today--and the app on my phone tells me there is ONE WEEK left until the release of WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW!

Terrifying.

For today's post, I thought I'd talk about how my book went from a stack of loose papers to the finished product. It seems to me there's a lot of mystery and questions that surrounds the whole publishing process, and maybe this will help clear some of that up and help any aspiring writers? Or maybe it'll just be interesting. Either way, I gotta write about something today, so HERE WE GO!

If my book were one of those evolution charts you see in museums, it'd look like this:

So there's some backstory, but I'll try to make it short and quick: 

I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember. My mom would buy blank spiral notebooks when they went on sale before school started and I'd fill them up and squirrel them away. About ten or twelve years ago, I decided I'd try to be a writer--FOR REALSIES, as the young folk say. So I wrote a novel, sent out some emails to literary agents, and signed on with one. She tried to sell my first novel, but nothing panned out. I wrote another book. Didn't sell. And again. 

I parted ways with that agent after that. No hard feelings, we just weren't a good fit--and she didn't care for the new book I was working on, which would later blossom into what is now WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. At this point I was enrolled in an MFA program and had lots of other eyes on my new book through the school. One of those sets of eyes belonged to an editor, Jamison Stoltz, who was kind enough to print out my book and give me some pretty awesome, extensive notes. Here's what that very early manuscript looks like:

A terrible picture, but my phone is going to poop out, I think. SOON.

Mr. Stoltz, who I am forever grateful for, then referred me to my amazing literary agent, Stephanie Cabot at The Gernert Company. Stephanie then sold my book to Amy Einhorn, who is the best editor in the biz.

So my book had sold, and everyone I knew kept asking when it would be announced, when it would be in bookstores. Or when it would be made into a movie. :\  

But here's the deal: the publishing business is SLOW. And it was even slower for ME, because Ms. Einhorn had bought my book with the understanding that it needed extensive rewrites. I've been told that most books aren't sold this way--when an editor buys a book, it usually doesn't need much work. A few changes, maybe, and some copyediting. BUT OH NOT ME. I rewrote WYDK completely three or four times over a year, and I've come to appreciate the patience of both Amy Einhorn and Christine Kopprasch (my other editor). Whenever I'd email another rewrite over, I imagine them wanting to reach through the computer and smack me--which is probably how I'd feel in their shoes.

ANYWAY. After a year, when I was so tired of reading my own writing I was ready to scream every time I powered up the computer, they accepted my book. After a little while, a few VERY early ARCs were printed:

This is the first time I'd seen a bound copy of my book, and I remember holding it in my hand and feeling stunned. Like, I couldn't believe it was actually happening.

More time passed. Copyediting happened. There were lots of emails back and forth about covers for the book. Then Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) came out:

These are the soft-cover copies that go out to early reviewers, bloggers, booksellers, etc. There were some giveaways. I handed them out in bookstores.

More time passed.

And then, just LAST WEEK, came the final hardcover copy!!

And now, in seven days, my book will be out there. It sold in late 2014, and now here we are. Finally. But worth the wait, I think.