6 min read

7 things that happened 5 months out from my debut pub date

7 things that happened 5 months out from my debut pub date

Hey! Wake up! We're getting closer to DAD CAMP finally hitting shelves!

As of this writing, we're just a few months out from my publication date of June 11, 2024.

I thought as we count down the months, it might be cool and of interest to other authors to get a look at what happens as your debut month approaches. I know when I first got my book deal, I was OBSESSED with the timeline. When would I see the first cover sketches? When would there be ARCs and galleys for me to hold in my hand? When would we go out for blurbs or get our first reviews?

For a recap of everything that happened with my debut in 2023, check out my year-end wrap up. You can also scroll back through my blog and get month by month accounts.

For now, let me talk about everything that happened about 5 months from the publishing date for my debut novel.

One. Got AMAZING blurbs.

We put together our blurb list — authors and other notable people we were hoping would read the book early and provide quotes — in late 2023 and began sending out our requests before the holidays. For a handful of them, I wrote personal letters to go along with the ask.

On the final working day of December, we got our first blurb in!

And January kept the party going. I have a handful of absolutely, ridiculously good blurbs now from authors I really love. I'm so gobsmacked by how amazing these are, and I can't wait to share them.

One interesting thing about this process has been learning about the etiquette of blurb asks.

I know at some publishers, the author is totally on their own to do the outreach and facilitate these asks. My editor at Dutton (thankfully!) has really done everything through official channels, reaching out to agents and editors of the authors in question, on my behalf. And as much as I want to post the blurbs on social media, tag the authors, reach out directly to thank them — there's a process in place.

You're really supposed to go through agents/editors to, I think, reduce potential awkwardness. In a few cases, I asked if it would be OK to reach out directly and say Thank You — but at least, in our instance, you've got to ask before you just start sliding into people's DMs!

I can imagine direct contact being a little weird. If I agreed to read something, but found I just couldn't get into it and didn't really want to put my endorsement on it, it would be really uncomfortable to have that author in my inbox telling me how excited they are. So I get it!

Two. Sorted a few final proofreading queries.

We worked our way through first pass pages a few months back — that's the entire manuscript laid out and designed and typeset, where you're looking for any mistakes and any last-minute changes.

To my surprise, we didn't have a second round of pass pages! So the book is.... DONE.

(Internal screaming.)

Still, Dutton has a few proofreaders going over it carefully to catch any last typos or mistakes. The other day I had to send back a few minor corrections on confusing wording and things like that.

It's nice to know everything is being triple-checked!

Three. Got GALLEYS!!!

Late last year I was able to hold my book in my hands for the first time.

Sort of.

What my editor sent me was a fancy bound manuscript, or what she called a "mini-book." It looked a lot like a paperback book but it was printed in the Penguin offices and bound there.

You can see a photo of that in my last update.

In January, I got a very fun package — three galley copies of my book!

(Crococile Dundee voice) Now, THIS is a book.

The main differences here between the galleys and the bound manuscript are:

  • Better paper quality, really feels like a paperback novel
  • Brighter, more vivid colors on the cover
  • Description of the book and marketing info on the back
  • Dutton logo, book name, and my name on the spine

It's so gorgeous I can't stand it. Really blows my mind to think one day soon, this will show up on my doorstep again in glorious hardcover.

Four. Sent out more blurb requests with galleys.

So I don't know exactly how many galley copies were made, but I know that there are a lot of mouths to feed with the existing copies.

The marketing and publicity teams keep a bunch because they'll use them in their promotional efforts. I got a few copies myself.

And my agent and editor both kept some on hand so we could send out some more blurb requests. There were a few names we held off on until we had these lovely books in hand.

So we'll see if we can get a few more exciting folks to read! I already feel like we're playing with house money, as the blurbs we've received have been so amazing.

Five. Saw first draft of jacket copy.

Once we had a few of those blurbs come in, my editor sent me a draft of the full jacket copy.

This is the actual summary of the book that will go on the final hardcover, plus my bio and some initial placement of some of the blurbs we've received — including one on the cover!

The design team is working on turning this copy into the final jacket design.

Six. Launch party planning.

My wife and I have been kicking around ideas for a big party with family and friends the weekend before my book comes out.

So not an official "launch party" with my publishers and book stores, but just something to celebrate.

I'm hoping a few friends will even come in from out of town and we can make it super fun. We've been trying to lock down this awesome brewery but everything kind of got lost in the holiday craziness.

Just a reminder to any debut authors out there that if you need to book a venue or anything like that for a party of your own, better get on it!

Seven. Wrote a freelance parenting piece.

This is a little bit of a bummer to talk about.

You may or may not know that I make a solid and very flexible full-time living mostly by running my own blogs and niche content websites, including my parenting blog Dad Fixes Everything. The freedom this business has provided me has been absolutely essential while my kids have been young. There's never been a time I couldn't "take off" of work or cut out early for appointments, sick days, vacations, etc. I've been so, so grateful for it.

The lifeblood of most blogs like mine is Google search. They get traffic from lots of places including Pinterest and Facebook, but Google has always been the biggest slice of the pie. Well, late last year, this happened to my traffic from Google.

Not the direction you want to see the blue line going!

That happened across a couple of different websites I run, essentially cutting my business by 2/3, almost overnight.

You can chalk it up to a lot. 2023 was an insane year for AI and some of the changes Google has made are related to that – both combatting spammy AI content while also embracing generative AI of their own into the search process.

And Big G says a lot of things about trying to surface the most helpful content out there but the reality is, they took a sledgehammer to small and medium-sized publishers. Anyone who isn't Forbes or Healthline or CNN is struggling mightily right now with similar graphs of their own.

I'll save the soapbox for another platform.

Just... It sucks, and it's not what I want to be dealing with while I'm getting ready to launch my debut novel.

One small positive that's coming out of it is that I'm being forced to look into other opportunities, reviving my freelancing career, starting to think about what the next season of my career looks like.

All that to say, I've been submitting and pitching and just recently published a cool essay with Insider Parenting that I had a blast writing.

I'm hoping to do more of that kind of thing in the next few months — though it would be great if things turned around and I didn't need to!

If you're looking for a writer, hit me up. You can see some samples of my non-book work here.

What's next?

In the next few weeks, I'm supposed to formally meet the marketing and publicity teams for the first time and hear their plans for the book. I'm really excited for that.

I've heard everything really starts to pick up about 3 months out. So we'll see!

And in the meantime, I would be so grateful if you added Dad Camp on Goodreads or, better yet, pre-ordered a copy for the dad in your life!

Until next month!