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13 things from 2023 - Timeline of first year after debut book deal!

13 things from 2023 - Timeline of first year after debut book deal!
We took a family trip to Baltimore/DC to visit friends and family to officially cap off 2023

Happy New Year everyone.

Want to hear something cool? Now that it's officially 2024, I can say that my debut novel comes out THIS YEAR.

In about 5 months, as a matter of fact. June 11. Mark your calendars.

There are a lot of exciting things still to come in the next couple of months leading up to launch, but figured it was worth at least a quick look back at everything that happened during a whirlwind 2023.

I officially got my book deal toward the tail end of 2022, and then all hell broke loose!

The timing of everything actually makes this a very clean overview of the timeline of what to expect the first 12 months after your debut book deal. Hope it's useful for anyone else who's just landed one — if so, congrats!

One - Got my first edit letter & completed developmental edits

In late January we really kicked off this whole process with the editorial letter from my editor — a ~5 page document going over what was working and, more importantly, what needed revising. Mostly big picture stuff like structure, plot points, character arcs, etc.

I took about 6 weeks to deliver the next draft, and I did a good chunk of the work during a little author getaway at a cabin in Blue Ridge, GA!

Highly recommend getting away to write and revise whenever you can. Reading the book aloud also helped me figure out where the story was dragging 😄

Two - Got my first advance payment

The first advance payment from the completed book deal hit my account in February — say about 4 months after we closed the deal — which was an incredibly cool moment!

Professional author, confirmed.

Three - Went through detailed line edits

Around June, my editor had a chance to read through my revised draft and send back her notes. Luckily, we were done with big changes!

It was SUCH a relief, and very gratifying, to hear that all my hard work on the dev edit had really paid off.

We went straight into a line edit, which involved me going through a marked-up manuscript addressing comments on the prose and other scene-level edits.

I spent about 4 weeks going through this before sending in the next revision in late June.

Four - Saw my book's cover!

The part any wide-eyed debut author is really excited for — I got to see the initial concepts for my novel's cover in early August.

So this is something like 10 months after getting the book deal, and about 10 months before publication.

We went back and forth and tried some variations, then once we settled on what we loved, there were some further tweaks until we finally landed on our final cover in early October!

Five - Copy edits!

In mid-August I received my copy edit document.

It's an extraordinarily thorough markup of the completed manuscript with a focus on spelling, grammar, typos, syntax, clarity, etc.

But there's also a good deal of fact-checking and continuity checking to make sure no errors make it to publication!

A funny example is that at that point, Dad Camp had an offhand mention of the breakfast cereal Fruity Pebbles. Apparently the proper copyrighted name is Fruity PEBBLES, with the latter in all caps. If you want to use the brand name, you've got to use the proper brand name, or so they tell me. So I ended up changing to a different cereal because to write it out like that would look really weird.

It took me about two weeks to work my way through these edits and send back a revised manuscript at the end of August.

Six - First pass pages

In mid-October (so about 6-7 weeks after I turned in copy edits), I got to see first pass pages.

This is the manuscript leaving behind its old life as a Word document and becoming a fully designed pdf, nearly ready to go to the printer.

I had to go through and read the book again with an eye for last minute changes, errors we missed, or design elements I didn't like.

This didn't take too long and I sent my revisions back on November 9.

Reading it and having it look like an actual book really helped my enjoyment of going through it again. I don't think I could have survived another pass through a Word doc.

Seven - Created a blurb list and sent requests

Right around the time I was working on these pass pages, we started brainstorming our blurb list.

That's the list of authors and other notable figures you try to send the book to early, in hopes of getting juicy quotes you can use on the cover or in marketing materials.

My editor had a pretty thorough list ready and I had a few ideas of my own to add in, along with input from my agent.

Our list is NUTS and has some jaw-dropping names on it. That's all I can really say for now.

We started reaching out to some folks on the list in early November and were lucky enough to get a few initial Yes-es, firing the book off to a few before the end of the year.

For a small handful of the asks, I wrote a personalized letter to go along with the request from my editor.

Eight - Got to hold my book

ARCs (advanced reader copies) or galleys weren't in yet in 2023, so for some of the blurb authors who wanted to check out a physical book, my editor printed up bound manuscript "mini-books" as she called them.

They're like a printer-quality manuscript held together with simple binding and a cover.

Nowhere near the quality of the real thing but still very cool. She sent me one to check out and that was a truly awesome moment.

Nine - Got my first reviews

In late October (so just shy of a year post-book-deal) my book went up on places like NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Goodreads.

That means people can request to read digital copies early and leave reviews before the book comes out on June 11, 2024.

I even got a few to cap off 2023!

I know, I know. I'm not supposed to read them. But show me a debut author who successfully resisted reading their first reviews!

Here's one I really appreciated.

Ten - Got my first author blurb

Was so, so fortunate to receive a lovely, glowing blurb from an author I really enjoy and admire — and riiiight before close of 2023 business, to boot. What a way to end the year.

Can't share this one yet, sorry! But stay tuned!

And that was basically the end of the year as far as Dad Camp was concerned!

But I did some other things in 2023 that might be worth a mention.

Eleven - Wrote some specs

Early in the year I started writing another book but ran into a wall.

So at some point I decided I just wanted to find the fun of writing again and do something with no expectations at all.

I ended up writing a few spec scripts for some of my favorite kid's shows. Mostly because they're short and a good way to practice efficient storytelling, and you can be silly as all hell.

I wrote two episodes of Bluey and even an episode of Peppa Pig, which is on almost constantly in my household. I think they turned out pretty cool! They're not crazy polished, so I might take another look at them, but it was really just an exercise so I'm not too worried about it.

Twelve - Read 17 books

This is probably the most I've ever read in a year. I know it's not an impressive number, especially for a writer, but it's pretty good for me.

Anytime I sit down my children immediately pounce on me, so I can rarely read more than 3-5 pages at a time. This is a win in my book!

Thirteen - Started my second book

After many fits and starts, I started really getting momentum on my next novel toward the end of the year.

Really hoping to whip a proposal into shape with my agent in the first part of 2024.

We'll see. Wish me luck!

Can't wait to tell you all about everything that's happening leading up to launching the book this June.

If there's anything you want to hear about from the post book-deal process that I might have missed, leave me a comment or reach out and I'll gladly give this an update!

And in the meantime, if you haven't pre-ordered Dad Camp — what's your excuse? 😄