What happens to your baby, also know as "Why the hell is it taking so long for my book to get published now that it's accepted?!"
I've been hearing this a lot lately, from both the editor and author side. I think it's high time for a medium to step forward and explain the situation. Editors, don't look so smug, I've got a few pieces of my mind to give you guys as well.
Now, let's assume you've already wrote your book, edited it, had a critique partner edit it (you do have someone else look over your work, right?) and you subbed it. You got that awesome e-mail that said, "We'd love to publish your book." Two months later, you still aren't on the e-shelves of the world.
WTF, right? Wrong. The fuck is thus:
First of all, get it out of your head that you are the only book your editor is working on. Want an example? I currently have 12 manuscripts in my queue. 12! And that's not counting the submission I received this week that I still have to read. I do a rotation of edits, I'll admit, but I still do them by deadline. So if I have three manuscripts that are suppose to release a couple of months before yours, I'm not going to jump on yours the second I receive it. It's not fair to my other authors who have been waiting just as long. Now granted, if my workload is smaller, I'll jump on it faster, but no matter how quick we get edits done, one thing still rules them all...
Release date! That's right. I'm not sure how other pubs work, but the one I edit for, we assign release dates the minute the contract is signed. It doesn't matter how quickly we get your edits done, that book's merry derriere is going to sit in the waiting room until its number is called. Unless by some grace of higher powers another book goes awry and the publisher speaks to us in a god-like tone and says "Who has a book that can fill this release slot?" But dear author, those times are few and far between.
Now, you may be asking, "Why do release dates even take this bloody long?!" Several factors; half of them behind the scenes, the other half you just don't think about.
Your book goes through several rounds of edits with your editor. We polish that puppy until it hurts our eyes to look at it. Say it takes you two weeks to return each round of edit. Where I work, we are obligated to perform at least three rounds of edits. So 2 weeks times 3 rounds equals 6 weeks. That's a month and a half. Okay? Now, add the previous statement that it may take a couple of weeks for me to get to you. That's two months. Oh, there's also the line editor who needs anywhere from 2-4 weeks to go over your book, comma by space by word. So now we're at 3 months of edits. Starting to make sense now?
But...did you take into account how soon the next release date was available when you signed your contract? See, we're halfway through the year. Many pubs are booked up well into 2013 now. So despite the fact edits take three months, more or less, you may not even be releasing until six months from contract signing.
Have some bloody patience! You think the authors ahead of you didn't have to wait too? You know what you do? You write. You shush, you wait, and you write some more. Or, see this as an opportunity to spend some time doing a hobby or spending time with your family. Either way, don't e-mail your editor bitching, "Edits are done, when am I going on the shelves?"
Now, editors, here is where I get to you. Once edits are done, for the love of all, please inform your author of their projected release date. Do not leave them hanging. That's cruel and unfair punishment...unless they were a pain in the ass during the entire process. I condone such mental abuse then.
Also, if it's going to take you awhile to reach their edits, please at least e-mail the author and say, "Hey, I'm your editor for Manuscript of Doom and I'm hoping to get edits to you during the month of Noremember." You'd be surprised how much it does to soothe an author, especially new ones. They are dodgy little things and quick to freak out.
Oh, and authors, please remember projected release date does not mean it's set in stone. So never ever hinge your life on a release date. Okay? Okay. ~ D. F. Krieger