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People ask about the process regularly & how long it takes and WHY it takes so long.  Between concept andrelease is typically AT LEAST 18 months.

My Publishing Timeline
End of 2004: WL the short story was written
2004-Middle of 2005: Editors rejected the short story.
Summer 2005: I started writing it as a novel.

I was querying for a middle grade novel I'd written. A few agent nibbles.  Rejections.  At that point there was not much of paranormal YA market--even Twilight wasn't published yet. EVEN if there is NO market, but that doesn't mean one should give up!!!! I still have this short story I'm obsessing over, so I start writing it into a novel.

[ETA NOTE: Yes, there were a few paranormals, but the YA crush wasn't upon us yet. The point here was that I didn't think it was likely to find much of a home. There were TWO YA faery books out there that were pretty much all I could find Holly Black's TITHE--which kicks ass--and de LInt's THE BLUE GIRL which also kicks ass. Beyond that? I was seeing much indication that there was a market for what I was writing.]

Nov/Dec 2005: An agent who rejected the middle-grade requested the YA novel (then called "Finding the Summer Queen.")

Jan 2006: I queried more agents. 
Feb 2006: I signed with an agent.
March 2006: Harper US & UK bought the book (& 2 more).  NOTE: By this point, we are 16 months btw concept & sold the book.

--here's where it starts to get blurry--

April: a half dozen more countries buy the books.
May-June: Revised like crazy with notes from Anne Hoppe (my US editor) and Nick Lake (my UK editor) .
July 2006: Copyedit
August: Galleys
September: Summoned to NYC by the publisher.

Jan 2007: pre-release tour
--during this time I am also in revisions on my 2nd novel (INK)--

June 2007: WL releases in the US, UK, & Germany
June 2007: WL debuts as a NY Times bestseller.
NOTE: By this point, we are 29 months btw concept & published book.

Summer 2007: I am in London for release of WL & then in Ireland for research & writing.
July-August: Still on the NYT list
--during this time I am also writing my 3rd novel (which was then released in April 2009) AND doing copyedit on the 2nd novel--

October 2007: Surprise! Tour
Dec 2007-Feb 2008: writing

April 2008:  INK releases
--during this time I am revising the 3rd novel--
May/June-US tour stuff
August: London tour stuff/ Scotland research trip
August: WL wins the Romance writers of America RITA for YA (the first YA RITA  in over a decade!)

--during ALL Of this time the books are still selling in other countries, releasing in some, & I am answering what email I can--

. . . and this keeps going.  One book releasing, another writing, and a another in revision . . . and releasing in various countries. 

So while from the outside it may seem that authors are sitting around in our garrets doing not a whole lot, umm, nope.  (And the reality is that my schedule is pretty tame compared to a lot of folks' schedules.) Still, I work far more than 40 hours a week, but WORK isn't really the "fun part."  It's not 40 hours a week of writing.  There are meetings & teleconferences w editors, publicists, agents, marketing (etc).  There are email & phone interviews. There are "we need ___  by Right Now" email from editor/agent/marketing/publicity.

. . . and those are the weeks when we aren't at a deadline, on tour, at a conference.

. . . and the concepts are brewing today for a book that might not happen until years from now.

. . . and the writing is going on (TODAY) for a book not releasing until 2011 . . . which I was thinking about back when I wrote the 3rd YA book. . . in part bc there are clues I needed to put in FRAGILE that will develop in the book I'm now writing.


RESEARCH QUESTIONS
I'm getting a lot of questions bc of my posting tidbits of lore on Twitter : )

Where:

Scholarly Journals
  • The Lion and the Unicorn
  • Marvels and Tales
  • Folklore (among others)
CHECK 
  • your library's online academic database
  • University library holdings (sometimes local non-uni folks can get library passes)
  • Interlibrary loan is ADDICTIVE & awesome.
  • Reference librarians (serious cool folks)
Books
  • look in the aforementioned journals for reviews
  • browse bookstores (used bookstores=potential treasure troves)
  • Bibliographic citations at the end of academic articles
  • Anything associated w Jack Zipes (who is as close to a god as folklore scholars can get)
  • Some books by Maria Tatar or Marina Warner
Lore:
  • Libraries (don't be afraid to go to the kidlit section)
  • Bookstores
  • Scholarly journals (Marvels & Tales offers trans lore)
  • Sacred Texts website has old texts online
  • Random bookstores when you travel (I stop at bookstores by default & bought an extra suitcase to carry home the books I bought in Scotland & Ireland)
  • Guidebooks for historic spots
  • Museum giftshops
Hope that gives you a start.  I can tell you what I'm reading but half the fun is the journey so simply reading the articles I read is going to be  less useful (& less fun).
Off to write so I can take tonight off to go on a date w my spouse :)

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
tracyworld
Jan. 16th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
The whole process does boggle the mind. Thanks for sharing your timeline (which I sorta kinda knew via the Blue Boards) and putting it all in perspective.

Have a great date tonight!
sararandall
Jan. 17th, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
I agree with you about Reference Librarians. They are blessed by the book gods.
tracy_d74
Jan. 17th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Wow! Mind boggling. I feel exhausted for you.
ext_215880
Jan. 17th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
It's clear you work hard for your craft, but the work pays off.

Thanks for the ARC of RADIANT SHADOWS. I loved the book and I'm so excited for the 5th one.

I'm amazed at the thread you've weaved through all the WL stories, I think I can see what the stakes of the last book might be, and I'm a little frightened for my favorite characters. How much did you know about the other stories when you started writing Wicked Lovely?
maggie_writes
Jan. 17th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
When you say there was no paranormal YA market, do you mean it wasn't as popular as it is now? Because I've been reading LJ Smith's books and whatever I could get my hands on by Francesca Lia Block ever since I was around 12-13. Of course, LJS stopped publishing new stuff around 1998, I believe, but Block has been publishing pretty steadily ever since. So you don't mean there was no market at all, right? Just that there was no boom? Just wanted to make sure I understand lol.
melissa_writing
Jan. 17th, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
No boom :) ie the wall of paranormal YA that dominates stores wasn't here yet.

Yes, LJ Smith & FLB & Holly Black & de Lint were here, but it wasn't this crush.
maggie_writes
Jan. 17th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
Ok, that's what I thought lol. Thanks for clarifying :)
himitsu_wishes
Jan. 17th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
My best friend is in the process of writing her first novel, and this is really helpful! Thanks so much. :D
lilrongal
Jan. 17th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
LOVE this post! Thank you for sharing!
shaunakemp
Jan. 17th, 2010 09:07 am (UTC)
This is really helpful and insightful in the process from start to finish, and repeat. :) Thank you for sharing! I am in the beginning stages of writing my first as well and starting the research process which does seem daunting at times. It is extremely difficult to know where it will all lead and it is nice to hear a successful writers path such as yours and to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, whichever specific path it may be. Thank you so much for your post! And, as I am also married, it's encouraging to hear that this can be done successfully with all the travel and hours and still be married with date night! I hope it was a good night. :)
houndmaiden
Jan. 17th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC)
I also check grandparents and storytellers ;)
bl_graphics
Jan. 18th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
Thanks for the insight!! And I must say, really glad it didn't get taken as a short story because the longer version is wonderful! :)
shellijohannes
Jan. 18th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
whew im exhausted after reading this :)
(Anonymous)
Jan. 18th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I remember when there was all of about 4 books with paranormal activity. It made me so sad because I was really interested in the topic, but I couldn't find anything. So instead of the bookstores, I went to my library and got into Irish (but also other cultural) folktales. I have to agree with the sources you mentioned. They're great places to start, especially if you need something broad.

~Jenn
orannia.blogspot.com
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Thank you Melissa. It definitely doesn't sound like a smooth process.

And I *heart* my library! So many pretties. I always take in a bribe...I mean a cake...twice a year because they do such a fantastic job :)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )