Wonder Boi Writes

The Long Way Home Recap and Weekend Play

I can’t believe we’re only 12 days from the release of  The Long Way Home. The process of writing this book has been a long one, and to think that it’s almost over is kind of mind-blowing. Most readers don’t have a very good understanding of what goes into writing/publishing a book. Hell, I don’t even understand a lot of aspects of it, but one thing that has become painfully obvious over the last few years is that my job can be summed up in the phrase “hurry up and wait.”  I write as fast as I can, then wait, then write, then wait, then wait and write.

Wonderboi readers know more than your average reader about the process this book has been through, but I thought I’d go ahead and recap this journey with perhaps a few new “inside looks” into the timeline of making a novel.

I title my books late in the writing process, so my working titles or document names are always the date on which I started the manuscript. The working title to The Long Way Home was 5248, meaning the  first writing I did on this story was on May 24, 2008.  So the first scene you’ll read in this book was written more than two years ago. I wrote for almost a year on this project, which is kind of slow even for me, but it’s important to remember that during that time I was also editing Trails Merge. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and time doesn’t stand still when I start a new book.

I finished a first draft of the manuscript in April of 2009, then did almost two months of self editing,  filling plot gaps, checking the timeline, and ensuring continuity. I also shored up any weak spots in the plot or character development.  Then on June 13, I sent my baby off to my beta readers.  The beta readers had a month to read it and tell me what they liked or didn’t like about the book.  Of course they were nice and gave me lots of good feedback without hurting my ego, and I love them for that.

While my betas had the novel, I also set to work on a more detailed copy-edit, meaning I let my wife do a copy-edit, since I can’t properly punctuate/proofread to save my life (This is absolutely true–ed’s. note). During this time I looked at more specific issues like frequently overused words, clichés, or other pet peeves my editor has warned me about.  The process of integrating the beta readers’ suggestions and doing the final touch ups took another month.  Then I wrote my formal proposal for the book.  A lot of authors can propose a work early in the writing process, but that’s not my style.  I’m a writer who generally doesn’t know how a book will end until I’ve actually written the end, so I propose after the novel is finished.

The proposal and “complete” manuscript was sent off to Bold Strokes Books on July 10, 2009.  Then the waiting began.   This is a dead time. Exhaustion from the final push of editing mixes with fear and anxiety about having the manuscript truly out of your hands for the first time, knowing it’s being evaluated and scored, not by friends who love you unconditionally, but by a business person whose goal is to gauge its worthiness for the market.  I find the best thing to do during this process is to start writing something else, so that’s what I did.

The waiting lasted a little over a month, and I heard back from Len Barot at BSB on August 16, 2009. She had a few suggestions that I was able to fix quickly, and we signed a contract on August 19, effectively putting The Long Way Home in the hands of the folks at BSB.  That isn’t to say my work was done. Actually, it was just beginning in a lot of ways. The hardest part of my job, by far, is the editing process, which officially began on December 6, 2009. Shelley Thrasher is my editor, and she’s amazing. Of course that doesn’t stop me from wanting to choke her or her from wanting to choke me at times, but the editing process is long and tedious, and it helps to have a good teacher/guide.

Shelley and I did three rounds of edits, The first and most substantive one took place from December 6 though January 1. (Shelley has a real knack for sending me edits while I’m on vacation).  The second round went from January 16 through February 1.  Also during this time I was working with Len Barot and our brilliant cover artist Sheri, who produced five amazing cover options for me. She really knocked me out with several of them to the point that I couldn’t choose just one, and we settled on a cover that combined two of my favorite options.  I’m going to post it again here, just because I love it so much.

In mid February I got my official notice of publication stating that The Long Way Home was slated for a September release.  That was an exciting moment, because at that point I’d been working on the book for over 18 months, and I really needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Knowing the release date gave me the motivation I needed to finished the editing process. The final round of edits with Shelley was mostly minor stuff for me but included a full copy-edit for Shelley and went through the end of February.

At that point I got a bit of a break, and by then I already had two other projects in the mix, so I was grateful for the chance to be writing instead of editing, but still my work wasn’t done. On March 14, 2010, I got notice from my production manager, Cindy Cresap, with information about my front and back matter.  The front and back matter is just what it sounds like, the stuff the goes at the front and back of the book. It includes acknowledgements,  dedications, the author bio, the book blurb, and reviews. I love doing my front and back matter.  It’s short and fun, and generally not a lot of work.  This time around it took only about a week to complete my front and back matter.

Last came the final proofs.  I got these via Cindy as well, and they came on June 26, 2010.  Keep in mind we’ve now crossed the two-year mark on The Long Way Home, and it really is starting to feel as though I’ve taken the long way home with this manuscript.   The final proofs are the polished, complete, and typeset manuscript sent out for one last check.  No substantive changes can be made at this point, just typos and blatant errors.   The proofs go out to numerous readers, editors, and me.  I print them off and read them the way I would a real book, twice.  It’s a little nerve- wracking because if I let anything by me now, you all will see it.  I sent in my proofs on July 6, 2010.

At that point the book is out of my hands, but not finished. It gets sent to the printer, and from the printer to the distributors over at Bella Distribution (Y’all have heard of them, right?) and from there they head out to retailers worldwide. In fact The Long Way Home is probably starting to land in back rooms and warehouses as we speak.  Of course it won’t hit the shelves until a week from Wednesday, making the entire journey 2 years, 3 months, and 8 days in the making.

I think the end product was worth the work and the wait.  I hope you do to.


August 20, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Wow, it’s really fascinating to read the whole process of a book from beginning to end! I want to become a copy editor, but until now I hadn’t really heard about the whole back-and-forth process of it!

    If you ever need another beta reader, I don’t have a lot of experience (yet), but I do have a lot of enthusiasm! And I would promote it on my blog (http://lesbrary.wordpress.com) after it was published.

    Great post!

    Comment by Danika the Lesbrarian | August 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thanks Danika – I’ll keep you in mind!

    Comment by rachelspangler | August 20, 2010 | Reply

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