For anyone who is interested -- particularly first-time or not-as-of-yet published authors -- here is the timeline for the writing, selling and publication of PRIMAL INSTINCT (2014), my first book with Harlequin Intrigue. The links lead to posts in my previous blog if you're interested in further reading.
May 2012 - Sent a back cover blurb & 100-word snippet to the Harlequin Intrigue team as part of a pitch contest. Harlequin holds contests All. The. Time. to try to encourage unpublished writers to submit their work. Their biggest contest is the massive So You Think You Can Write spectacle every October/November (read about my hilarity with the 2012 contest here). But they have dozens of other, smaller but just as important, contests throughout the year. If you're not a part of the Harlequin Writer Forums, I strongly suggest you jump in there.
From these pitch-contests, editors usually ask for one of three things:
1) A "partial" -- 1-5 pages of writing and a full synopsis
2) A "proposal" -- the complete first three chapters and a full synopsis
3) A "full" -- the entire manuscript.
My editor requested the middle -- a proposal.
June 2012 - Sent requested proposal (chapters and synopsis)
October 2012 - Received request for full manuscript from editor.
December 2012 - Sent full manuscript to editor
April 26, 2013 - Received an email from the Intrigue editor. She liked my book and wanted to pass it up the chain to the Senior Editor. She asked if I had an agent (which I didn't) or if I had ever been published before (not really, just some academic stuff). I knew my manuscript being sent to the Senior Editor was a good sign, but also knew of writers who had gotten to that stage, but still had still been rejected.
June 18, 2013 - Received "The Call" from Harlequin -- they wanted to buy and publish my book in April 2014!
Mid-July 2013 - Asked to submit the "Art Fact Sheet" for my manuscript. A list of a billion questions (about
characters, locales, seasons, etc.) from which they will develop the cover of my book. So if my hero looks like Fabio, I only
have myself to blame.
August 1, 2013 - After much discussion back and forth, I was notified that the title of my Harlequin Intrigue book
Sept 10, 2013 - Received copy edits: Whoa! Huge shock about how many errors I’d missed; made changes and returned
on September 12, 2013
Sept 12, 2013 - Since I agreed with most of the suggested copy edits, I received AA (author alteration) file almost immediately. The AA file would be my last chance to make any changes and the final time I would see the manuscript before its publication. I found (with the help of a dedicated proof-reading friend) about five errors and changed a few sentences that were bugging me. It was great to read the book one last time and still find that I really liked it. The AAs were due mid-October; I submitted them September 29, 2013.
October 1, 2013 - Sent requested book dedication and "cast of characters" (something unique to Harlequin Intrigue).
October 13, 2013 - Accidentally found myself as an author and Primal Instinct on Amazon for the very first time.
A surreal and thrilling experience.
December 12, 2013 - Received the cover art for Primal Instinct. Quite exciting to see how my book will look on shelves!
February 5, 2014 - Held my book in my hand for the very first time. What a thrill! My author copies arrived.
February 19, 2014 - Primal Instinct's First Review. Named a TOP PICK by Romantic Times!
March 22, 2014 - Print copies of Primal Instinct officially release in bookstores everywhere. On April 1, 2014, Primal
Instinct ebooks release.
April 4, 2014 - My family throws me a CRAZY AWESOME release party for local friends and readers.
March - April 2014 - I get bogged down in the numbers and Amazon Author Central. Helpful, yet oh-so-time-sucking.
May 2014- Being a category romance, Primal Instinct is gone from the shelves by May. The lessons I learned from releasing my first novel.