Ever since the cover reveal for Under the Surface went viral, I’ve been getting lots of questions like, “THIS BOOK DOESN’T COME OUT UNTIL JULY????????????” Edit: Since this newsletter went out, the publication date has shifted a tad to August 13, 2024.
First of all, 😈
Second of all, 😭🥰
I’m incredibly grateful for all your enthusiasm for this book. Frankly, it’s blowing my mind. And I’m so excited to share this story with you—a survival-thriller about a girl who gets lost in the Paris catacombs for days with three friends, while aboveground the boy she loves races to find her. I made it as romantic and scary and tear-jerkery as I could, and as much as you can’t wait to read it, I can’t wait to see your reaction.
But I know 8+ months feels like forever to wait. So I wanted to explain a bit about why it takes so long for a book to come out after the cover reveal!
In traditional publishing land—where you’re published by a Big-5, mid-sized, or independent press—it usually takes months to prepare for the behemoth task of distributing a book across the US. Just some of the things involved:
Get these newsletters in your inbox!
1. Book production
The book needs to be produced beyond the cover itself: interior design, casing design (if you’re lucky), digital galleys, print galleys a.k.a. advanced reader copies (ARCs), and final copies. Next, printing must be coordinated for both the print ARCs and final copies—a challenge, these days, during a paper shortage. Many books don’t even get print ARCs anymore, but Under the Surface will, so that’s an extra step! Then there’s all the stuff involving warehouses, inventory management, shipping… whew. Publishing is a complex beast.
2. The previous book’s paperback
This varies book-to-book, and only applies for authors past debut, so I’ll just speak to my own situation. Penguin Random House is the publisher for my previous book, Lying in the Deep, as well as Under the Surface, so they’re coordinating Lying in the Deep’s paperback launch for May 28, two months before UTS’s launch, and it will include an excerpt from UTS. This will (hopefully!) bring in tons of new readers who will then have time to read and preorder/buy UTS when it comes out.
Fun fact: Since All Your Twisted Secrets was with HarperCollins and These Deadly Games was with Macmillan, this will be my first coordinated paperback and hardcover launch. Hooray!
3. Sales stuff
The publisher’s sales team works to get purchasing commitments from booksellers and librarians who’ll stock the book, which could include securing special editions, nominating books as an IndieNext pick, Junior Library Guild selection, high-visibility book clubs, book boxes, and more. This involves sending out ARCs, pitching the book at sales conferences, and— well, I won’t pretend to know all the behind-the-scenes magic the sales teams do. It’s very involved and largely mysterious to most authors.
Preorders from readers are so important here. They indicate to retailers how many copies they should stock, whether they should run a special edition, etc. And that, in turn, influences how big the publisher makes the book’s first print run. A bigger print run = a bigger chance for breakout success.
So if you’d like to see Under the Surface break out or even get a special edition, please preorder it. I’d appreciate it so much!
4. Marketing stuff
Meanwhile, the marketing team drives reader hype. What this entails varies widely, but here are just a few things they do: run Goodreads giveaways, send ARCs to influencers, create and publish social media content, run price promotions for the previous book’s ebook, run digital ad campaigns, send newsletters, give away ARCs and promote the book at reader festivals, do traditional media ad buys… I could go on for a few paragraphs. It’s a ton. And marketing teams are usually very understaffed and have a lot of books on their roster.
5. Publicity stuff
Separate from marketing (though not always; depends on the imprint size), a PR team is focused on driving hype in the press, which includes pitching a book for listicles and media mentions, pitching the author for interviews, guest articles, event appearance, and more. And the press often requires long lead times; 3-6 months or more.
6. Probably a zillion other things!!!
I’ve never worked at a publishing house before, so I’m sure there are a zillion other things that happen behind the scenes I’m not aware of. But as you can already tell, it’s a PROCESS.
And because that process is so involved and complex, cover reveals often happen 8-9 months before launch. Hence Under the Surface’s cover dropping October 31 for a July 30 launch date.
There are exceptions. For example, celebrity memoirs often have faster production schedules and shorter lead times (and arguably less difficulty securing publicity hits), so you’ll see those covers for the first time much closer to launch.
And, of course, indie authors play different. They’re smart and tactical about optimizing their launches for Amazon’s rankings, and often reveal their covers and put up their preorders only weeks from launch so sales are concentrated in a shorter timespan, giving their books a bigger boost in Amazon’s algorithm. And since indie ebooks are generally priced lower than trad ebooks, an indie author may debut a book in the top #100 on Amazon, whereas that’s pretty rare for a traditionally published book unless you’re a superstar or went viral on Tiktok.
7. Plus, all the marketing I do
It’s a lot. Like, a LOT. On top of writing my next book, I’ll be promoting the hell out of Under the Surface because I’m so freaking excited about it. It’s the book of my heart, and I’m pumped it’s resonating with people.
If you’ve been following my publishing journey for a while, you’ll know it’s been a rocky road and I haven’t “broken out” yet. After taking five years to get a book deal, my debut, All Your Twisted Secrets, launched five days into shelter-in-place, March 2020, while bookstores were closed and Amazon wasn’t shipping books. These Deadly Games launched during the peak of the Omicron wave, and Lying in the Deep seems better fodder for paperback than hardcover, so we’ll see how that goes in May.
But THIS one. Under the Surface. 🥺
After such a rocky road, it seems foolish to have hope. But this book is all about having hope… even when all seems lost. So it only seems fitting.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. 💜💀💜