Your Romance Novel:
From Submission to Publication

©Judy Bagshaw - All Rights Reserved


(The following article is based on my experiences with small press publishers. The process may vary from publisher to publisher.)



“…and they lived happily ever after.”


You’ve written your book, polished it through several drafts, received valuable critique from your critique group or valued beta readers. Now you’re ready to submit it to the publisher. What happens from that point?


Manuscripts are submitted to the Acquisitions Editor at your chosen publishing house. Upon receiving the manuscripts, the A.E. will do an initial sort, rejecting any manuscripts outright where authors have failed to follow the posted guidelines. Such infractions might be: failure to send in the right format; missing cover letter; no synopsis; a genre not published by the house, etc. The remaining manuscripts go to the slush pile.


The slush pile is assigned to readers, who work through and rank the manuscripts, following guidelines provided by the publisher. They make recommendations to the editor on whether a book is to be declined, or deserves a full read. Most manuscripts will be seen by more than one reader to give the fairest evaluation.


Manuscripts that make it to the full read stage are then sent to readers for this step. Readers read the entire book and give a more detailed critique of the work. They are looking at such things as: does the book live up to its initial promise? Does it have a good beginning, middle and ending? Are the character’s voices unique and distinct? Are there plot holes or logic errors?


The Acquisition editor makes the final decision on which books will get a contract. Of the hundreds of submissions typically received each month, only two or three will be given contracts. Only the best of the best will be accepted. The author is contacted regarding the contract offer, and the contract is sent. As well, the author is asked to fill out questionnaires related to marketing and the cover art.


Copyright can be handled either by the author or the publisher. This would be a good question to ask once you’ve received your contract.


Once the contract and questionnaires are signed and returned, the book goes into the system. The senior editor places the book in the publication calendar and it goes into queue. When it comes up, the book is assigned to an editor.


The editor and author bounce the manuscript back and forth, refining the work until it is its polished best. The step can vary in length depending on how much editing is needed. The editor determines the point when the editing is finished and sends the final edited manuscript to the senior editor. Any disagreements between the editor and the author are settled by the senior editor.


Meanwhile, the book cover is assigned to the art department. The head of the department assigns the cover to an artist, and forwards the author’s cover questionnaire to give the artist some guidance.


Once the edits are completed, and the art work ready, the book is ready for formatting for type setting. Typically this is done by the senior editor. Once formatted, it is type set, and the cover art added.


The author receives an advanced review copy of the finished formatted book, either electronically or hard copy via post. It is the author’s last chance to read through and catch any remaining errors. This is not the point to make major changes to the storyline however.


It is at this point, the book can be sent to the printer, or if it is an ebook, saved in various ebook formats. The book gets printed and is ready for sale.


The book is also sent out for reviews. This is a job shared by the publisher and the author, each sending the book to different reviewers. The author is also responsible for helping with the marketing and promoting of the book.


You can see that this is a long involved process from start to finish, which is why it can take months, and sometimes years, to get a book to the market place. But there is no denying the excitement for an author to see their carefully crafted work in its final form.





About the Author:  Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include several novels, a collection of short stories, and short stories in multiple anthologies. She was also part of the writing team for the Ginn Reading Series, and Reaching Readers Series, used in many elementary schools. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website



Easy Way to Write Romance - by Rob Parnell