Imagine being pregnant for three years. You have a widget on your phone counting the days to a distant due date. Secretly you fear that day will never arrive. Your friends aren’t used to three-year gestations, but they bolster you with support. When you see the first ultrasound of your child’s face, you relax just a little bit, because you can finally picture the baby resting in your arms.
That’s how I felt the first time I saw the cover for my young adult book “Genesis Girl,” which debuts Sept. 27 from Month9Books. I was new-mom happy.
In the world of traditional publishing, it takes about three years for a book to come out. The thrill of seeing a deal announced in Publishers Marketplace is followed by a tremendous amount of work. Manuscripts go through multiple rounds of edits before they are sent to the proofreaders.
“But, Jenny,” people have asked me. “Didn’t you already edit your book?”
You bet I did. “Genesis Girl” went through 22 drafts before I sent it to my agent in 2013. That doesn’t mean it was ready to print.
The editorial guidance publishers provide make books better. Story arcs tighten. Adverbs disappear. Errant commas go poof. Another question I sometimes hear is “Can I have an early copy of your book?”
Unfortunately, no. Even my family has to wait until September. Timelines vary, but a few months before publication authors receive samples of their books called galley copies or advanced review copies. These are not presents for friends. The publisher and author work to connect the ARCs with as many early reviewers as possible.
Authors also have to develop an “author’s platform” that includes a website and social media accounts. “Swag” is important, especially in YA fiction. Swag has to be designed, raffled off and mailed. When you consider all of this effort, a three-year wait to publication doesn’t seem like such a long time.
“So what’s ‘Genesis Girl’ about?” is the most common question I hear.
That’s where my book-birthing experience becomes ironic, especially when you consider how hard I work to build up my author’s platform.
“Genesis Girl” is about a teenage girl named Blanca who has been sheltered from the Internet her entire life. Her lack of a digital footprint makes her so valuable that she gets auctioned off to the highest bidder. Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those years away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only escape is to go online.
Unlike Blanca, I’ve been online incessantly preparing for my book launch. My biggest fear is that nobody will read it. It will be hard for me as a mom from Snohomish County to compete with big-name authors in the YA world. Hard, but not impossible. At least that’s what I tell myself in my darkest moments.
Nine more months and my book will be born. I think I can make it … But honestly? I feel like I’m ready to pop.
Jennifer Bardsley lives in Edmonds. Find her on Twitter at @jennbardsley.