News, Writing

Timeline of a Novel from Submission to Publication

I get asked fairly frequently about the timescales involved in publishing a book. I am sure they can vary a great deal, but in the case of The House with Chicken Legs, my debut novel publishing with Usborne next year, it will be nearly two years between me first clicking send on a submission e-mail to agents, and the day of publication.

I first submitted Marinka (the original title for The House with Chicken Legs) to three carefully selected agents on 1st June, 2016.

By the 29th June I had three very nice, carefully worded rejection letters. That evening I was pondering what revisions I should make to Marinka before I submitted her again, when I noticed the lovely BookLoverJo had retweeted this from Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency:


I couldn’t resist and sent Marinka off to Jenny with fingers crossed. The next morning I received a request for the full MS. So, with trembling fingers, I attached the file and clicked send once more.

During the next five days, I checked my e-mail far too many times. Then Jenny responded. She explained Marinka had received a ‘fantastic reader’s report’ and that she had passed it to her colleague Gemma Cooper who ‘loved the opening’ and was now reading the rest …


… and so for the rest of the month, I continued to check my e-mail far too many times.

On  28th July Gemma sent me a wonderful e-mail, saying that she had really enjoyed Marinka and would like to meet up and discuss her editorial thoughts.

In a stroke of luck Gemma and I were both attending YALC that weekend, so we met up there and had a fabulous chat about her thoughts for the book. Talking to Gemma was hugely inspiring and I loved all her suggestions for improving Marinka.

In August I accepted a formal offer of representation from Gemma with a huge smile, and began work on the edits she had suggested. I edited throughout September and October and Gemma gave me feedback on two more drafts of Marinka, which by now had been re-titled The House with Chicken Legs.

Finally, in the middle of November, Gemma declared The House with Chicken Legs submission ready! She very cleverly told me that she would e-mail me updates on the submission process on Fridays only – so this time I didn’t check my email too many times.

By December there was interest from several publishers and much excitement! I talked to a few editors from different publishing houses on the phone, and Gemma set a deadline for offers for the middle of the month.


And so The House with Chicken Legs went to auction … and found a home with Usborne in the UK and Scholastic in the US. It was the best Christmas present ever!

From January to March, 2017 I started work on my next book while Gemma wrangled with contracts and foreign rights sales. The House with Chicken Legs sold in a pre-empt in Italy and at auction in Germany. My wise and wondrous editors, Rebecca Hill at Usborne and Mallory Kass at Scholastic, liaised on edits.

In April I received an editorial letter and marked up manuscript from Rebecca and Mallory, and Rebecca also phoned to talk through the suggested edits. So, I went back to work on The House with Chicken Legs …


In May I met all the lovely folks at Usborne, signed contracts, and finished up the current round of edits. In June and July The House with Chicken Legs disappeared off for a copy edit and I went back to work on my next book.

In August I worked through the copy edit, expertly done by the word-wizarding Sarah Stewart at Usborne. Behind the scenes, in the UK and the US, a great deal of exceedingly exciting work was being done on cover and book design.

During September and October a few final tweaks were completed as The House with Chicken Legs was prepared to be printed and bound as an ARC (Advance Reader Copy).

So … what next?

There are still six months until publication of The House with Chicken Legs, and more work to be done between now and then. ARCs will be printed and distributed, a proofread will be completed, the cover and interior design of the final book will be decided, and I will be required to do a mysterious thing called a Final Pass before the final book is sent to print next year.

But by April 2018, 22 months after I first clicked send on draft one of Marinka, I will be holding, stroking and sniffing the final copies of The House with Chicken Legs. And I’m pretty sure it will be wonderful!


This post was illustrated by my young son CFcomiX