Okay, so I’ve been away from my blog for a bit (finishing one book, revising another, working a day job... you get the idea.)
Let’s resume our timeline from where I left off in my April 30, 2007 blog “Wow! This All Takes A Long Time!” available here.
April 18, 2007 – Received an email from my editor asking me to sum up the plot of the novel in two paragraphs.
April 19, 2007 – I sent this out as a reply and it was just what she was looking for:
Murder is a fact of life for the vampire Eric, owner of the DemonHeart strip club in Void City, but when he kills a werewolf in self-defense, things get wildly out of hand. Though the local Alpha and his pack of born-again lycanthropes are out for holy retribution, they're the least of Eric's worries when he finds himself caught between his girlfriend Tabitha, who has always wanted to be a vampire, and her sexy little sister Rachel, a tantric witch with a hidden agenda.
Why can't unlife be easy? All Eric wants to do is run his club, drink a little blood and be left alone. In his quest to discover who is trying to end him and why, he must survive car crashes, embalming, sunlight, tantric magic, and werewolves on ice as well as his own nasty temper, forgetfulness, and mistakes. More diamond in the sewer than diamond in the rough, Eric is willing to take on the world in BITE ME, a book where love just might conquer all, even if it is twisted, evil, and undead.
(You’ll note that at this point the book is still named BITE ME. That changed to STAKED later.)
May 3, 2007 – My revisions letter showed up. I talked about that a bit here, but I’ll write more about it now that I have a little time.
Right after the AC went out in my office, during one of the hottest summers I’ve ever experienced, I got my twenty-seven page revision letter. It contained a few pages of what my editor liked about the book and an explanation of what the twenty-some-odd pages of specific revision requests were meant to accomplish. My revised draft was due back on June 18, 2007. As though the (temporary) lack of AC wasn’t enough excitement, our annual family trip to Disney World also fell smack dab in the middle of this time period.
This point is where having a good relationship with your editor is essential.
(Related Note: Over on the http://www.hatrack.com/ writer’s forum, Kathleen Dalton Woodbury recommends the book The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist by Thomas McCormack for all “writers who anticipate receiving revision letters.” I’ve read through most it myself and I agree. Fortunately my editor’s responses, to use the book’s terminology, were thoughtful and apt.)
Fortunately, from previous revisions, I knew my average working rate and could tell that the timeline would be tight, but doable.
After reading through the revisions letter, there were only a few points on which I disagreed. My editor and I bounced a few emails back and forth on those points, and I got feedback on some of the changes I was making in order to assure myself that I was heading in the right direction.
By March 21, 2007, I’d done enough of the revisions to do a page count estimate. As many of the revision requests called for more description or further explanation of various points, I knew the novel was going to grow, but I was worried about how much it might do so. I emailed my editor with the estimated new page count, just to double-check.
June 1, 2007 – Upon arriving in Disney World, and while still working on the revision, I got another email from Jennifer. They needed to change the title again and Jennifer needed some good suggestions by June 19th, 2007, the day after the rewrite was due. Um… yay? Let me just say that it is very surreal to be walking around Disney World throwing possible titles to a vampire book back and forth. Even my five year old got into the discussion.
June 15, 2007 – STAKED became the new title. (See my blog on June 22, 2007 for a list of some of the names we didn’t use. )
June 18, 2007 – I sent in my revised manuscript for the novel formerly known as WELCOME TO THE VOID, then BITE ME, and now STAKED.
June 28, 2007 – Author photo! Did I want one? If I did, they needed it 4” x 5” in at least 300 dpi in black and white. My wife came to the rescue with a handful of photos from our Disney trip and we polled our friends before making a final decision.
July 2, 2007 – My author photo (a picture taken by my son Jonathan on the aforementioned Disney trip) was accepted. It's a good choice, because it shows my real smile, and an interesting choice because it's an up-shot, taken by a three-foot-something kid looking up at his six-foot-something dad.
July 9, 2007 – We signed and sent in the photo permission form. (My wife insisted on explaining to our son his rights regarding his photo and having him sign the form alongside us.)
July 10, 2007 to July 17, 2007 - Jennifer liked my revisions! (Even though the book grew by 20,000 words in the process.) She only had ten specific revision requests in response and we got those hammered out over the next several days. I also had to decide whether I wanted the book to be copywritten under J. F. Lewis or Jeremy F. Lewis. (I picked Jeremy F. Lewis, BTW. Yes, the J stands for Jeremy. The F stands for something else. Ask my mother.)
August 21, 2007- I received my first blurb:
"A pedal-to-the-metal demolition derby of sex and violence. Werewolves and vampires were never so much fun." -Mario Acevedo, author of X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS
(Note: I highly recommend both NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS & X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS, and not just because Mario wrote such a great blurb.)
August 23, 2007 – I was greeted on my way out of the driveway (heading back to work from lunch) by a nice man from DHL. The happy orange-ish yellow envelope contained my copy-written manuscript, a note from my editor, and two green pencils with which to make my edits to the text.
Let me just say that my copy editor, Chris Fuller, did a fantastic job on the copy edits. He did a detailed timeline for the book as well as a character list containing everything from Eric, who is my male co-tagonist, to "unnamed werewolf with brown fur, a friend of Leon’s". There is a reason he gets thanked in my acknowledgements page.
August 28, 2007 – I sent the copy-edited manuscript back (after making a copy of it a Kinko’s just in case) and returned home to find an email from Jennifer with my cover attached. I still don’t have permission to post it, but as soon as I do, you’ll see it here. I printed out a copy of it and took it with me to DragonCon where I showed it around like a total geek. (see my post about DragonCon here.)
September 13, 2007 to September 17, 2007– We did one more last minute rewrite to fix a problem with Tabitha's last chapter and the actual ending of the book. It’s not supposed to be a cliffhanger, but it was still being read as one. I sent the revised bits to Jennifer on Monday with mega thanks for allowing the final change at the last possible moment and the book was ready to be typeset minus the unintentional cliffhangery-ness.
September 20, 2007 – I found out about a cool local con that was going to happen the weekend after my book release and emailed Gary Babb, the literary coordinator, about being a possible guest. Gary was happy to have me onboard (he’s a very nice guy, BTW) and after an email to double-check the firmness of my March 11, 2008 release date, I was on the schedule at my second Con. (Which is funny because, though I was scheduled for my appearance at Con Carolina’s first, Omega Con takes place a couple of months beforehand, so though second to be scheduled, it will be the first at which I appear).
October 15, 2007 – I made good on my promise/threat to send cookies to the folks up at Simon & Schuster. We sent lots and they were well received. Also on or around this date, I got my galley proof in the mail, with another note from Jennifer Heddle, and two more happy green pencils to use when correcting typos.
October 19, 2007- After a week of having all the members of my writing group go through the novel one last time, the marked up corrections were on their way back to my editor with hopefully all of the typos corrected. It was very minor stuff (Eleenth Street to Eleventh Street, that sort of thing).
October 25, 2007 – Two little boxes showed up on my front porch containing a total of fourteen bound advanced uncorrected proofs of STAKED. They have plain blue covers, but I cannot describe how it feels to hold them in my hand.
October 30, 2007 – Cover flats arrived. They look awesome- I even got a foil effect on the title! Whoo-hoo! Around this time, I took a cover flat and a few copies of the advanced uncorrected proofs to local bookstores. (And may I say that Sarah down at The Little Professor was totally cool!)
November 19, 2007 – I had to fill out an Author Questionnaire for the marketing wizards up in New York. I sent it back to them on November 25, 2007, and I hope it’s what they needed. It was a very long questionnaire.
And that brings us up to date. To be honest, I may have included too much detail, but I’m hoping there are a few aspiring authors like myself out there who are craving data like this. I know I wanted this kind of detail even if it only provided a rough outline of useful information about timelines and what happens when.
I was doing other things during this same time that I’ll blog about later, but I’m trying to keep this timeline applicable to STAKED to avoid confusion.