Friday, March 29, 2013

Behind the Scenes: A Publishing Timeline

“Publishing is one of the slowest businesses in the world.”

This is what my cousin said at the latest family wedding, when hordes of friends and distant relatives started hounding me with the dreaded question: “Why isn’t your book out yet?” My cousin said this, gave me a knowing smirk and handed me an adult beverage.

It’s true. Publishing seems to be something of the tortoise of the entertainment industry. It’s a hard thing to see on the outside. After all, readers usually only hear about books after they’re out. Or at least, present on a bunch of Goodreads lists.

To help my many relatives and friends (and you guys) understand what’s going on behind the scenes, I decided to map out my own personal experience with the publishing process.

Here’s the timeline of my debut novel ALL THAT GLOWS. I hope this helps people understand that publishing a novel in the traditional way takes time. There are lots of huge gaps (months and months), between steps. This time is spent working on other projects. And living life.

March 7th 2010: I start to write a short story about a faery in a night-club protecting a partying prince from predatory spirits. It becomes the second chapter of All That Glows.

May 22nd 2010: I finish the rough draft. A whopping 304 pages in 3.5 months.

August 14th 2010: I finished my first run through edit! It’s ready to send off to my critique partners!

October 2010: My critique partners have torn it to shreds and I must fix it!

November 2010: After ripping my precious child to pieces for the second time, I finally decide to start querying. I get my first full request.

December 2010: The full request turned into a revise and resubmit. Back to revisions I go!

February 2011: Third round of revisions finished! More partial and full requests trickle in.

April 2011: I sign with my agent and start on another round of revisions before we go on submission to editors.

July 12th 2011: My novel is out in the wide, scary world of submission.

August 3rd 2011: HarperCollins makes an offer on my book! Yay!

December 2011: I get the dreaded official “edit letter.” Commence chocolate eating and tears.

February 2012: My edits are done and my book is shiny. Yippee!

June 2012: Oh but wait. It’s not so shiny. There’s a second round of edits.

July 2012: Second official edits are finished and complete!! Phew.

December 2012: My book officially goes into the “production” phase (where they format it into an actual book and start designing the cover. Etc.

February 2013: I get my very first glimpse at the cover designs. And print them out and put them on my desk so I can drool and stare for days (don’t judge!).

March 2013: I do my copy edits for ALL THAT GLOWS and see the final version of the cover.

May or June 2013: I’ll receive my ARCs (Advance Review Copy). People will start reading and reviewing. I’ll be hiding under my bed. (And you think I’m kidding…)

February 11th 2014: My official release date! ALL THAT GLOWS finally hits the shelves!

Total time from book deal to book release: 2 years and 6 months.
Total time from first sentence to book shelves: 3 years and 11 months.

Phew. This is kind of exhausting just looking at. But there you go. A glimpse into the timeline of my “book pregnancy.” Sometimes it feels like the waiting will never end. But one day it will. My book will be out in the world as red-faced and squealing as any newborn. And you can be sure I’ll be there celebrating.


Ryan Graudin grew up by the sea, surrounded by oaks draped in Spanish moss. She was perfectly content there until her mother dragged her on a trip to London.  Wanderlust has plagued her ever since; an ailment she sates with heavy doses of traveling and writing. Her first novel, All That Glows, is the direct recipe of both. Ryan currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, and is always searching for the next adventure. You can visit her online at or on Twitter (@ryangraudin).

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Find Your Voice…Then Protect It

For the past few weeks I have been mulling over a topic: finding your voice. This is the theme for the Alabama Library Association Convention where I am scheduled to participate in an author panel in late April. I have been asked to give a fifteen to twenty minute speech addressing this topic and be prepared to answer attendees’ questions afterward. Great! Or is it?

There are two slight problems with this theme—finding your voice. First, I identify with it. Heavily. Largely because it took me a very long time to find mine. But I won’t get into that now. Just know that keeping my speech down to a twenty-minute time slot will pose quite a challenge. I could wax poetic on this topic for hours. (However, the shy, intimidated, introvert inside me believes I will speak for a mere five minutes before I pass out cold. But I refuse to let myself dwell on that issue.) Saying everything I feel I need to say concerning finding (and more importantly, using) one’s voice, and saying it in a timely fashion will take effort. It is an effort I am most willing to make.

The second (and more significant) problem is that each and every time I start to contemplate finding voice, I inevitably wind up on my soapbox about protecting voice. No, I am not referring to throat drops or scarves. I am referring to protecting our First Amendment right to free speech. After all, what good is discovering your voice, having something important to say, and then once you begin to speak, having someone shush you. It is not good. For anyone. Ever. Sure, it is easy to jump on the bandwagon and defend free speech when we are the ones being silenced. But perhaps our own right to free speech comes with an inherent responsibility to use that right to protect the free speech of others—whether or not we agree with them.

Banned Books Week is months away: September 22-28. But why must we wait till September to consider this highly important issue? Shouldn’t this be something we discuss and ponder and mull over daily? Shouldn’t this be an issue we as authors and librarians and teachers and parents and human beings are passionate about every week of the year? I know you all agree that it should. Banning books is simply another way of quashing someone’s right to free speech. 

The most recent example of children’s book banning that I am aware of took place in Colorado. The book is question is THE MARBLE QUEEN by Stephanie J. Blake. Stephanie’s book was banned from a school library because the main character’s father is an alcoholic. Yes. You read right. Because I want to convey the utter senselessness of the situation, I’ll type that sentence again: Stephanie’s book was banned from a school library because the main character’s father is an alcoholic. I can’t even begin to imagine what is so controversial about portraying an alcoholic father in a middle grade novel. Maybe I’m shallow. I don’t know.

The fact is we live in a cruel world. Our children live in a cruel world. There are alcoholic fathers. There are. Should we avoid addressing the issues and emotions those children face day in and day out because it makes an adult uncomfortable to read about them between the covers of a book? I say no. I also say that we adults should not assume that a child experiencing that situation would not find some level of comfort in reading about a peer going through the same trials.

I never had to live with an alcoholic father. Neither do my own children. I consider myself blessed, and my children blessed, to live the lives we have lived and do live. It is true that it’s often easier to push certain taboo topics into the recesses of our minds and go about our daily lives as though nothing at all is wrong with the world and nothing bad is happening to anyone in it. But that is a mistake of the worst order. How can we fight to protect people and change situations if we choose to ignore all the bad? We can’t.

I am about to step down from my soapbox, but before I do, I want to make a plea to all us debut authors who were lucky enough to get into print precisely what we needed or wanted to say, to all the librarians who so tirelessly make sure the right book is being placed in the hands of the right child, to all the teachers who daily go into the trenches to be the hero for kids who have none at home, to all of us grown-ups who sincerely care for the welfare of our children and each other: don’t forget to use your voice, to say what you need to say. But, perhaps more importantly, don’t forget to protect your voice and the voices of others. Someone, somewhere, could desperately need to hear a voice that has just been silenced.

Laura Golden is the author of EVERY DAY AFTER, a middle grade novel about a young girl learning to let go and find her own way amidst the trials of the Great Depression. It is set to release from Delacorte Press/RHCB on June 11. You can learn more about Laura and EVERY DAY AFTER by visiting her website or following her on Twitter and Facebook


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Procrastinate With Me

I have a messy house, two small children, two dogs, a part time job, revisions that need to be finished by a quickly approaching deadline, grocery shopping, meals to be cooked, books to be read, laundry to be folded, and five million other things on my to-do list...

So what do I do? I procrastinate, of course.

First there's checking email, facebook, Goodreads, twitter. That doesn't really count as procrastinating, though. That's just warming up.

If you really want to procrastinate then you need to go beyond the usual social networking sites. The best place to start is Buzzfeed. And because I am ever so helpful (and wanted to procrastinate writing this blog post) I found a few great Buzzfeed posts for you to check out.

I recommend you start with cats. Yes, I know - cats on the internet is a cliche. But don't tell that to Sygmond the majestic grey cat. If that's not to your taste, then try these two adorable kittens who are brothers and who love each other. Okay, maybe you're not in the mood to get all mushy and awwwing over cats, then how about laughing at 28 Cats Who Have No Idea How They Ended Up Here.

Or if you're just really not into cats - no matter what kind of linkbait I throw your way, then maybe Disney princesses are more your cup of tea. There's the Disney Prince Hotness Ranking, 12 Questions Disney Forgot to Ask About Beauty and The Beast, or How Old Are the Disney Princesses?

Or hey, what about stuff that you can pretend is research? The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World, 27 Delightful Obsolete Words, or 10 Brilliant Book Ads?

Of course, these links are all from Buzzfeed (and only a small sampling of the many varied links you will find there) but there are so many wonderful places where we can lose time on the interwebs, for example...

EW's Mad Men Season 6 Teaser!!!

An adorable Joseph Gordon Levitt in a 1997 clip from celebrity Jeopardy! 

The 6 Most Statistically Full of Shit Professions! (Yes, there is a writer on the list, but in a very specific sub-category that is not YA novelist!)

Everything Carrie Ever Wondered About On Sex and The City!

A link to NPR's StoryCorps page! (They play these on NPR every Friday morning on my way to work and EVERY DAMN TIME I tear up. EVERY. TIME.)

So there are my procrastination links, I bet you can't click just one. And don't beat yourself up if you do,  just tell yourself that it's not procrastination - it's inspiration!

Kate Karyus Quinn is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, a literary horror novel coming in 2013 from HarperTeen. You can find out more about her book on Goodreads, and read more about Kate on her blog or her website.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cover Scoop: ACID

Everyone's heard them, right? Those horror stories about covers that populate the internet. Covers where the models used to represent the characters look nothing like them, or where there's a total disconnect between the image on the book's cover and the story inside. I was pretty sure my cover wouldn't be a horror story, given that my publisher produces books with some of the most awesome covers around, but nonetheless, I had a niggling sense of anxiety which never quite left me. ACID's main character, Jenna Strong, is a take-no-prisoners kinda gal. What if she appeared on ACID's cover as a dreamy waif in a ballgown? How would I tell my publisher I didn't like it without making them think I was a gigantic pain in the bum?

Then I found out who my cover artist was going to be, and realised I had nothing to worry about. Larry Rostant is a photographic artist who started out in advertising, then moved into publishing. He's currently one of the most sought-after cover artists in the world, and when I found out who else he's done covers for, I started to get a little bit excited…

George R.R. Martin. Clive Cussler. Kristin Cashore. Stephen King. And many, many more.

Jenna was not only in good hands – she was in the best hands she could possibly be in. Now all I had to do was wait. Luckily, I had book 2 edits to keep me occupied…

A little while later, my editor sent me the first roughs for the cover. I was blown away. The model Larry had used for Jenna looked so much like the image I had of her in my head as I wrote ACID that it was spooky – as if she'd walked straight out of my imagination and onto the screen. There were no ballgowns. No waifs. Instead, here was a badass girl with bright red hair, ready to take on the world… which in one month's time, is exactly what she'll be doing! 

Not much has changed between those first visuals and the final cover, probably because everyone was so thrilled with it. One thing that was added to the final version, though, was that tagline. Every time I read it, I get shivers. And the title, I've been told, will be foiled. I can't wait to see the final copies of the book.

A HUGE thank you to Larry Rostant and everyone at Random House Children's Publishing for giving ACID a cover that's beyond my wildest dreams!

 Emma Pass grew up at an environmental studies centre near London, went to art school in Cornwall and now lives in the North-East Midlands, UK, with her artist husband. For 3 wonderful years she was lucky enough to share her life with The Hound, too (that's him in the picture). She is represented by Carolyn Whitaker at London Independent Books and her YA dystopian thriller ACID is out from Corgi/Random House on 25th April 2013. You can find her blog here, view her website here and catch her procrastinating on Twitter here.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Not long after I landed my publishing contract, I attended a YA book signing where the author talked about cover art. I had no idea how the process usually went down, and her experience sounded alarming. Debuts were usually given no say, she said. A cover story could truly be a horror story, and if your cover sucked, too bad.

Oh, eek. How bad could it be? Those in the art department have experience that I don’t, I reasoned, and surely knew their market. But I wanted to give some feedback. I prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best.

I needn’t have worried. During a first discussion with my editor, Michelle Poploff, she made it clear there was always a to-and-fro between her and her authors about cover art. I was relieved. At least I wouldn’t be in for a nasty release-day surprise.

Once my manuscript was at the copy editing stage, Michelle emailed that it was time to bat ideas around with the art department. How did I envision my cover? Even after our convo, I wasn’t expecting to be asked my opinion up front. Thrilled, I replied with my thoughts. Within a few weeks an email arrived, subject “Cover sketches”. My heart was in my throat as I clicked it open to meet my cover artist, ChrisRahn.

Three pencil drawings leapt onto the screen. I literally gasped; each was stunning! Though rough, the mood and motion they captured was way beyond what I’d envisioned, more wild and eerie. The one that grabbed me most portrayed my main character, Jemma, as she is in the finished artwork: a stoic presence looking ready for action and confrontation.

However, there was no Digby—Jemma’s friend and companion against evil—in that version. Michelle and I had already agreed his presence would widen the book’s boy appeal, and agreed now that he should be added.

Sooner than I expected, I received finished, full-color artwork. I adore its dramatic and classic feel. The predominant misty blues are fabulous—more kudos for Chris’s mood-capturing! And I love how Jemma is looking up at something—What? I don’t know. I don’t care. That small glance adds a layer of subtle threat which is fantastic, with the rats standing guard on her shoulders, and Digby behind her, having her back as ever. Perfect!

There were a couple of things, though, that weren’t quite right. The artwork having been presented to me as finished, I was nervous. Could it be changed? I had to at least ask. This was—is—my book, and if I didn’t say something, I knew I’d kick myself ever after. So I did. (Say something.) And I’m not. (Kicking myself.) The changes were made.

I’ve since discovered from a lot of fellow newbies that this isn’t unusual; editors do listen to their authors, and I felt my opinion was respected at every stage. So for me, far from a horror story, the experience was a breeze. I owe huge thanks to Chris for his fabulous artwork, to art director Melissa Greenberg for choosing him, and to my wonderful editor, Michelle, for tying the whole thing together. I can’t wait to finally see the end result actually on the shelves! 

Not long now…

Kit Grindstaff was born near London, England. After a brief brush with pop stardom (under her maiden name, Hain), she moved to New York and became a song writer. Kit now lives with her husband in Pennsylvania. The Flame In The Mist which releases on April 9th, is her first novel.

You can find Kit online on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Today is the day that my book, The Art of Wishing, is unleashed upon the world.  That’s right.  Unleashed!  So in honor of this momentous (to me) day, I’ve invited someone very special (to me) to join me on the Lucky 13s blog.  Please welcome Mr. Oliver Parish!

Oliver is sixteen years old, a sophomore at New Jersey’s Jackson High, and one of the stars of The Art of Wishing.  Welcome to the Lucky 13s blog, Oliver!

Thanks.  Hi there, Luckies and other denizens of the internet!  Pleased to, um, “meet” you?

I’m sure they’re pleased to meet you, too!  Okay, let’s start easy.  Describe yourself in three words.

Shy.  Easygoing.  Genie.

For the readers who don’t already know: What do you mean by “genie”?

It means my spirit is tied to a specific object (in my case, a silver ring), and as soon as anyone touches that object with their thumb and forefinger, that person becomes my master.  I’m bound to them, for as long as it takes me to grant them three wishes.

Any three wishes?

Well, anything within my power.  I don’t have unlimited magic, so don’t go trying to bend the cosmos to your will, please.  Aside from that?  I can’t change the past and I can’t see the future, but anything else is fair game.

Anything else?  Wow, you must have granted some off-the-wall wishes, huh?

Ohhh, you have no idea.

For example?

Let's just say that bringing fictional characters to life is very difficult.  Not impossible, as long as you take advantage of certain loopholes... but difficult.  Also, unicorns.  Don't even get me started on unicorns.

Rumor has it that you’re a photographer.  What are your favorite kind of photos to take, and why?

Yeah, I take a lot of photos.  I actually paint, too, although I don’t have as much time for that as I used to.  But no matter what the medium, my favorite subject is always people.  I travel a lot – it’s sort of necessary in my line of work – and my art is my way of cataloguing not just where I’ve been, but who I’ve been with.

Who you’ve been with?  You mean romantically?

Well, I didn’t mean only that, but… sure, that too.

In that case, that’s the perfect segue into my next question.

(laughs) Uh-oh.  Okay, bring it on.

Well, in The Art of Wishing, you and Margo McKenna, your master, are romantically involved.  Does this often happen with your masters?

Not all the time – but yeah, it happens.  Being someone’s genie is a pretty intimate thing, you know?  I can read my masters’ minds (more or less), which means they’re trusting me with their most secret, most personal desires before they even know it.  It’s hard not to grow close to someone when you have that kind of relationship right from the get-go.  So, yes, I’ve had romantic relationships with a lot of my masters.  They never last, though.  That’s the thing.  Once the third wish is made, I can’t stick around and live happily ever after.  I have to move on.  Which is why, no matter how much I might admire and respect my masters, I never let myself get emotionally attached.

“Never”?  What about Margo?

Margo.  Yeah, she’s… well, I met her at a time in my life when everything was… aaahhh, it’s hard to explain!  Let’s just say I was in a very “nothing left to lose” frame of mind.  Well, plus the fact that Margo is basically the most awesome person ever.

So, was it love at first sight?

Hah! No, I don’t believe in that.  But it was definitely crush at first sight.  I didn’t know her yet, after all, and it’s hard to fall in love with someone when you don’t know them.  But I will say this: It’s pretty awesome getting to know someone and learning that your crush-at-first-sight was completely, 105% justified.

Aww.  That’s so sweet.  And so sappy.

And you’re being so judgmental!  Let a guy be sappy once in a while.  Sheesh.

Sorry, sorry!  All right, last love-life question.  What was it that first drew you to Margo?

At the risk of sounding sappy again, I have to say it was the strength of her presence.  I first saw her when she was performing on stage, and… I mean, you’ve met her, right?  You know she’s a kickass singer, and an even better actress.  But  it was something more than that.  She commands when she performs.  She’s so sure of herself.  She owns whatever room she’s in, and she doesn’t even try.  I guess I’ve always been drawn to strong personalities like that.

Boxers or briefs?

Whoa, hello there, non-sequitur.  Are you seriously asking me that?

Humor me.

Okay, fine.  Boxers or briefs, hmm.  Well, that depends entirely on… um, let’s say my mood.  (grins) Also, are those really the only two options you're gonna give me?

Oh?  What other options would I give you?

Hah! Like I'd tell you. Ask Margo if you want to know. Although I'll warn you: She's really good at keeping secrets.

Fine, fine. All right, here's another non-sequitur.  Have a look at this book cover:

 So, what do you think? Does the guy on the cover look like you?

It's a little hard to tell, since you can't see his face! But what you can see?  Yeah, that definitely looks like me.  Hair looks the right length, and jeans with a gray shirt is exactly my speed.  But in real life, I kinda hope Margo and I would be closer together...

Aww.  Well, that almost brings us to the end of our interview... except for one last thing.  Lightning round!  You ready?

Ready and raring!

All right, here goes:

11. Favorite food?

Belgian waffles.  The more toppings, the better.

10. Least favorite food?

Grapes.  They feel like eyeballs.

9. Favorite drink?

Whiskey.  Irish, preferably.

8. Biggest celebrity crush?

Paul McCartney.

7. Biggest literary crush?

Katniss Everdeen.

6. Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Going someplace new.

5. Coolest place you’ve ever visited?

The inside of Mount Etna.

4. Coolest place you’ve ever lived?

The Australian outback.

3. Vampires or werewolves?

Depends on the story, but usually vampires.

2. Old Doctor Who or new Doctor Who?

New. Especially if I can be in the middle of a Jack Harkness/Donna Noble sandwich.  Wait, no, don't write that down!  I meant to say new, because the writing is very good. Very, very good indeed.

1. True love or immortality?

True love. Believe me.  True love.

I guess you would know, wouldn’t you?  Sorry, that was rhetorical!  Anyway, thanks for stopping by, Oliver.  It’s been a pleasure.

Likewise!  Good luck with your book release.  I hope, for reasons entirely unrelated to my own ego, that millions of people buy it.

Me too. And that, folks, is what we call wishful thinking.

Lindsay Ribar is a literary agent by day, a writer by night, and a concert junkie 24/7.  Her first novel, The Art of Wishing, is about making wishes, making music, and making out.  She thinks you should read it.