The Page a Day Writers Group

A novel goes into production

Posted on: July 30, 2010

At long last! I received word last week that my novel Tattoo, the sequel to Ice Song, is going into production. What exactly does that mean? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the process, I’ll outline it here.

Once a manuscript has completed initial editorial processes (revisions made in response to the editorial letter and subsequent discussions/changes), and the editor has a book that you’re are both fairly satisfied with, the book moves into production.

A release date is set. Tattoo is slotted for release May 24, 2011. To give you an idea of my time frame, I began writing Tattoo in 2009, while subsequently promoting Ice Song and juggling home, family and a day job. I received my editorial letter in November 2009 and the revised final manuscript was turned in May 2010.

Delivery & Acceptance. This is a lump sum payment, one of two or three that you may receive as part of your earnings in addition to payments after the contract is signed and/or when the book is released and hits the shelves.

Line edits commence. My editor/s (I’ve actually had the good fortune to have two editors working with me on Tattoo) reread the manuscript (MS) and add their changes, suggestions and comments to the document (electronic or hard copy). Electronic versions use the Track Changes feature in Word. A Production Editor steps in to help shepherd the MS along from sheaf of papers, to ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy), to the final hardcover or paperback.

Copy editing begins. The copy editor goes over the revised version of the MS after you’ve incorporated your editor’s changes and submitted a new version. Here’s where you really have to be careful. The novel is moving along a sort of conveyor belt heading toward its final manifestation as a printed novel. The time for major revisions/rewrites is over. This is just housecleaning. Do you mean cast iron or cast-iron? Do you want a semicolon there or would you prefer to start a new sentence? The copy editor corrects your spelling and grammar according to the dictionary that the publishing house uses (maybe this varies, you can ask them what dict. they source from when you are looking up words yourself, to avoid later changes/questions). For example, one of the things that was changed in Ice Song, was my use of  ‘towards’ and ‘forwards’ which, I learned, is British English, not American. To standardize with Random House’s style guidelines, these were amended to ‘toward’ and ‘forward.’  The copy editor clarifies your meaning and fixes all the invisible little writing habits we have (for me, it’s excess commas. I usually stick one in there while I’m thinking about what comes next). The writer must be very clear here in approving the copy editor’s changes (“stet” which means “ok as is”), or crossing them out and writing in your preference. This step is a great help in uncovering stylistic and technical weaknesses. The MS with your changes goes back to the publisher by email or snail mail.

Cover Art. Somewhere in here, the editor, art director and marketing team will converge for a cover meeting. They’ll work from their own experience and ideas, along with yours, to create a compelling cover and back cover copy. (Click here to see a gallery of some of the artists, styles and images I like for the Tattoo cover).

Galleys arrive. This is a printed MS incorporating your last round of changes. It’s also the last chance you’ll have to make corrections. The publishers have drawn a line in the sand: “No more changes!” They know that we writers will twiddle our manuscripts into oblivion if they don’t tie our hands, confiscate our pens and march us away from our computers.

ARCs. Next to arrive is an Advanced Reader’s Copy. This is a bound book showcasing the book design (interior pages, fonts etc.) and possibly cover art and marketing plans. It is sent to reviewers several weeks/months before release so that reviewers can publish their ( hopefully) glowing reviews to coincide with your book’s sale date.

The Stork Arrives. The Fed Ex man makes his final delivery–the one you’ve been waiting for since you first committed your story to form and began writing your book. Oh glorious day! You’ll receive a copy of the finished book and it’s on to the next leg of your authorial journey.

I’m awaiting my D&A check (which has already been spent 100 times over, whee!) and will be talking about the cover soon. I’m also working on back cover copy and gearing up for final changes. I’ll keep you posted as we move along.

Onwards and ever upwards (or Onward and ever upward, as the copy editor would prefer),

Kirsten Imani Kasai


8 Responses to "A novel goes into production"

Congratulations on reaching this milestone! It’s very exciting to know that you have a second novel coming out. I hope this one attracts a mountain of new fans.

Happy to find your blog today — I love following the journeys of other writers. Congratulations on your book, and keep celebrating!

Thank you for commenting, Amanda. We’re always happy when someone new finds us 🙂 Cheers to your own journey, too.

You’ll be feeling like an old hand at this “what comes after acceptance” side of getting published.

I shall write reams when my turn comes. After I’ve stopped dancing on the roof, of course 🙂


What a great glimpse into this process! Fascinating! Thank you, Kirsten, for being so real and open about it. Congratulations and cheers! Enjoy the happy news!


Thank you ladies! The first time was the hardest, now I can relax and bit and enjoy the gestation period. It’ll be wildly fun to see my second published novel in hand and on shelves.

Yes, I agree! I can’t wait to get it in my hands. Congratulations!!!! You’re so deserving!

So excited to watch this process and cheer you on from the sidelines. When’s that book signing? Looking forward to being in the front row.

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!


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