I've labelled 2011 as The Year of Getting VENGEANCE BORN published. And it has been a year long process.
A year of steep learning curves, a year of excitement, a year of rushing to get things handed in by a due date, a year of waiting patiently...
So, what happens after you get that elusive email or phone call from an editor offering to buy your book?
Well, besides the manic week or so of FINDING AN AGENT (if you haven't already got one), the next part is NEGOTIATING THE CONTRACT. And that can (sometimes) take weeks.
I received the email to buy my book in October 2010, the final version of my contract came in December 2010. A number of things may impact the speed with which this happens, it varies from deal to deal.
Your agent will go through the contract clause by clause making sure bits like signing away your "next book" is clarified to "next book in the series" or "next book in that genre" are altered or removed or rewritten.
This is why I think an agent is worth their 15% commission - I'm not a legal-ese expert by any means and would've had no idea what was a good clause and what needed work.
A part of this is negotiating deadlines for your book or books. Be sure to take into account every day life - family, health issues, work, what you're capable of producing word-wise and by when - and then add another month onto that time for good measure. These dates are binding.
I read every clause in the contract once I received the altered version. I asked questions to clarify what specific bits meant and once I was happy with that, only then did I sign it.
Next step (besides beginning the next book) is REVISIONS - the larger picture stuff suggested by your editor to make your book better. Sometimes there might be pages or maybe an overall comment like "up the romantic conflict".
Talk to your editor about them, clarify points, brainstorm, compromise. You'll be asked when you can have them done by - again, make sure you set a realistic timeframe and add a few days on for wriggle room.
Once your editor signs off on these, she'll send the manuscript to the line editor. LINE EDITS involve things like punctuation, grammar, word/phrase changes, world-building checks etc. Usually the document has comments made down the side using TRACK CHANGES, one color for the line editor, one color for your editor, and one for you to respond as needed.
You may or may not get to set the timeframe for these to be returned by. More often than not you'll get a due date, perhaps a couple of weeks, maybe more.
This ends Part 1 of this post. Join me next week to find out what happens next - same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!