MK Pagano

Thoughts on the publishing process, 1 year out

Last year I announced that I had finally, finally sold a book!

So I thought I’d do a quick post documenting how it’s been going so far…

So first of all, people not in the publishing industry are always floored to hear about the timelines. I sold my book last spring, signed the contract and announced it last summer, and it comes out next summer.

So what have I been doing in the meantime?


… interspersed with a whole lot of waiting!

See, my editor at Penguin Teen isn’t editing only my book; she has several other authors’ books to edit as well. So I had to wait about nine months for my first edit letter from her. During that time, I:

  • joined a 2024 debut group chat, which has been an invaluable resource!
  • tried to up my social media game by posting more frequently on Instagram and starting a TikTok
  • read a whole lot (getting suddenly approved for lots of ARCs on NetGalley has been an amazing author perk!)
  • and working on the next book! and the one after that! and the one after that! (I am a chronic WIP-hopper)

But then, earlier this year, I finally got my first edit letter. This one dealt in developmental edits–changing a major plot point, deleting a scene, adding another, etc. Was it daunting and scary? Yes! Did it make the book better? Also yes!

Then there was … some more waiting.

Then a few months later, my editor got back to me with developmental edit round #2. This one dealt more with character. She really encouraged me to dig in deep to my characters’ histories and motivations and figure out exactly why everyone made the decisions they did, and what it all led to. It was a lot of work–of the sort I didn’t really anticipate–but again, it ultimately made the book so much better. I knew my editor was good when I signed with her, but I didn’t think I realized she was this good–making me realize things about my own story and characters I hadn’t before, and really pushing me to make this book as amazing as it can be.

I submitted my second round of dev edits.

Then it was — you guessed it — more waiting.

Then it was on to … line edits!

This is where the big-picture stuff is over, and my editor and I started tackling line-level edits. We scoured every sentence to make sure there were no extra words, to ensure I wasn’t being repetitive, etc. We were also trying (as I am forever trying!) to make my book shorter. Over the course of dev edits, my YA thriller had ballooned from 83,000 words up to 88,000 words, when ideally a YA thriller should have a wordcount closer to 75,000 or so. I don’t have any delusions getting it down that far, but I did manage to get it closer to 80,000. And we’re still working on it!

In the meantime, about a month ago was my “internal launch”–which meant my editor presented my book to the publicity and marketing teams at Penguin Teen. This was exciting, as Penguin Teen actually tweeted about my book, and I got some of the marketing and publicity people following me. I haven’t officially gotten to meet them yet, but I hope to soon.

There have also been discussions around a cover! We’ve gone back and forth on a few iterations, and I’m excited to say I think we’re close to something final. I’m lucky in that even though my publisher technically has the final say in what the cover looks like, they were more than receptive to my input, taking all my ideas into account and really working hard on creating something I absolutely love. My cover reveal won’t be until sometime in the fall, I’m told, but I absolutely cannot wait.

So is the book done yet? No!

After final line edits, the manuscript is considered “delivered” — which triggers my second payment! — and then we move on to … copyedits! Something I didn’t know before this whole process started was that the copyeditor is actually a separate person from my editor. It’s a new person who comes in and checks out all the grammar, punctuation, and can even let me know of any inconsistencies, like if I accidentally set a scene on a Tuesday then later in that same scene mention it’s Wednesday. Excited to get to that level of detail–not least of all because once I’m through that, my book is DONE done.

After that, there’ll be a cover reveal, ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copies) going out into the world, a marketing plan, and … I’m sure some other things I haven’t thought of yet. I’ll write another post (probably in another year!) as we get closer to the publishing date (which I still do not know!)

Any questions? Happy to answer them as best I can!

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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