How To Survive Publishing Your First Novel

Jacqueline Abelson Career Advice, Creative Writing, Tips, Writing

The book is in progress. The contract between you, your agent and your editor is signed. You can now lay back and finally relax now, right?


As a first time author, your first novel may be roughest challenge yet. You might have to revise a draft of your novel at the last minute or find yourself canceling a very important meeting with your publishers because you have a cold.

What do you do during these stressful times?


Well, first off take a chill-pill, or addrall (how the heck am I suppose to know what medications you’re on?). If you suddenly find yourself in a pickle with your agent and/or editor and you need to find a way out, then have no fear. There is a way to survive getting your first novel published if you prepare yourself accordingly for the worst scenarios that could possibly happen.

When You Miss a Deadline.

This is probably the most serious sin any author can make. If your deadline is the day after tomorrow and you’ve only edited page one of your manuscript you’re SOL. Like seriously. Editors and publishers do NOT take kindly to those who are late on their deadlines. So before you enter your “purgatory” period take care to work out your deadlines. It’s extremely important that you consult with BOTH your editor and agent and stick by them. Every deadline you miss erodes your credibility as an author.


When You Get Overly Defensive About Your Editor’s Suggestions

Come on! You’re an adult! Do not get defensive when an editor gives his/her feedback on your manuscript. It’s natural! It’s his/her job to give you feedback. Besides, in every publishing house, the editors advice is professional. Their objective is to make your story and your writing better. They’re on your side. Besides, in the end you may decide not to accept their suggestions. It’s your novel, after all. But you sometimes have to remind yourself that your editor is your best resource to improve your novel as a whole. Editors are your friends! And they are the best one that you may ever have.


When You Are Not Prepared to Rewrite the Manuscript

You might wake up one day and your editor will call to tell you to rewrite a chapter or maybe the entire manuscript of your novel. The editor might even tell you the length the manuscript has to be cut down to and when it needs to be due by. Substantial editorial changes at this stage can imperil your schedule and potentially undermine the success of your book. Make sure that you always set some time to yourself to make the necessary corrections that your editor has requested. Procrastination will not be tolerated.


When You Don’t Keep Your Mouth Shut During Sales Conferences

Sale Conferences is THE most important day for the sale of your novel. Sales reps are the liaisons between the publishing company and the book retail market. Most publishing houses hold what is called sales conference two to three times a year, where all the sales reps come together with the company’s editors to hear about upcoming books. They are armed with catalogs and sales brochures to meet with each of their bookselling accounts to secure advance orders. In other words, sales reps are really, really, important people who might just make or break your book. It can sometimes be tempting to announce yourself to the sales reps – even if you’re a pro when it comes to public speaking – but honestly, let the publishers do most of the talking. If you’re not Al Gore and have won a Nobel Peace Prize for a slideshow lecture on Global Warming, sit yourself down. Sales conferences is the most dangerous place for an author to be (but you have to show up in order for the publishers to introduce you to their sales people).

When You Lose Your Manuscript In a Computer Crash

There you are, writing away while drinking your Pumpkin Spiced Latte over your MacBook Pro when suddenly you lose your grip on your Starbucks cup. You watch as your Pumpkin Spiced Latte spills all over your keyboard and your computer dies. Right in front of you. You run to the nearest Apple Store saying a silent prayer that maybe the hard drive can be saved, but when the Apple guy shakes his head and tells you that nothing can be recovered from the hard drive, you fall into an emotional pit of despair. Everything, EVERYTHING was on that computer, and your Pumpkin Spiced Latte ruined it. But worst of all, your manuscript was on that computer! What’s to be done? All right, so here’s the thing. First of all, unless you had backed-up your computer, everything that had been destroyed on your computer might have been saved. So it’s probably a good idea to invest in one of those devices while you’re going through the editing process of your novel. Don’t even think twice about it. It’s better to to spend the $50 on a backup system than be sorry. Second, the chances of at least a type of draft to your manuscript being saved might actually be high. It won’t be the draft that you were working on when you spilled your Pumpkin Spiced Latte, but go through your emails (on your new computer) to your agent or editor. They might have a draft of your novel saved when you emailed them in the past.


When You Finally Accept That It’s Pretty Much Okay to Ask For an Extension

Hey, sometimes you need the goddamn extension to get through your goddamn manuscript. In hindsight, if you feel like there is is more you can do to improve upon your manuscript, but feel like you might need some more time, then speak up and deal directly with you agent or editor. After all, you know what you habits of writing consist of better than your editor. If the publishers give you the extension, great. If they say no, bunker down and get right on writing. Plan and pace yourself, but also do the best that you can.


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Jacqueline Abelson
Jacqueline is from Pasadena, California where she was honored as one of Pasadena's 50 Student Leaders according to THE Magazine in 2012 for outstanding leadership. She is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she is majored in English with a minor in Psychology. Her debut young adult novel, HEAR, was published in 2012.
Jacqueline Abelson

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