To My Non-Publishing Friends: No, My Book Can’t Just Come Out Tomorrow :)

This week the Debs are writing about our experience of time: time writing books and the publishing timeline.

After Thanksgiving and the inevitable book-related questions, it became even more clear to me that my non-publishing friends and family know very little about my journey to publication. That’s no fault to them. Why should they know the ins and outs of my industry? I’ll be honest that I knew very little before beginning my own journey–and still have so much to learn. But one of the most frequent questions I get asked is some variation of:What is taking your book so long? Can’t you publish it like… tomorrow?

In short: No 🙂

Let me break down my journey since knowing my manuscript would become a published book. Keep in mind, each publisher does things slightly different.

21 months to go: I got that happy tear-inducing email from my agent with the subject line: “OFFER FROM TOR!!!” Soon after, we received a Deal Memo, which is a quick one-pager that outlines my advance amount, royalties, tentative publication date, etc. With the Deal Memo agreed upon, my agent and editor began to negotiate the terms of the many-paged publishing contract.

19 months to go: My editor sent over her edit letter, outlining all the “big” things she wanted me to tinker with. This started my first round of edits. Also, around this time, my book was officially announced by Publisher’s Weekly, a news website of book publishing.


18 months to go: My publishing contract was finalized and I officially signed, with the help of my toddler (and at 9 months pregnant). I also received the first half of my advance (wahoo!).


17 months to go: I completed the first round of revisions and sent them to my editor. From there, we shot my book back and forth a few more rounds until we were both happy with the book.

14 months to go: With my editor and I both happy, BECOMING BONNIE was officially “accepted,” which meant I received the second half of my advance (wahoo!) and Bonn moved onto the next stage of publication: production.

13 months to go: Advance Board Manuscripts (ABMs), book-sized versions of my manuscript, were given to some amazingly talented authors in the hopes they’d read and have some nice things to say about BECOMING BONNIE. In other words, we gave them early copies of my book (unedited, without a cover) so they could “blurb” it. I also read the back-cover copy of my book for the first time (eee!)

11 months to go: I got my first blurb from Lee Kelly (whose book A CRIMINAL MAGIC is wonderful, btw). I smiled so much after reading her take on my book.

“A dazzling and compulsively-readable adventure of self-discovery, with a voice both singular and irresistible.  I dare you not to fall in love with Bonnie, and her intoxicating, wholly immersive world.”

And then a few days later, I got another blurb from New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig! This quote is now sitting pretty on my cover.

“How do you get from good girl to gangster’s moll? Walsh takes you along for the ride in an account so vivid you would think you were there with her.”

9 months to go: BECOMING BONNIE was listed on Amazon for presale! This was a big moment for me. That “oh my gosh, this is really actually real” moment.

8 months to go: My editor sent me copyedits for BECOMING BONNIE. This meant an eagle-eyed guy from my publisher went through my manuscript and edited for typos, inconsistencies, and any historical anachronisms. Then, it was my turn to double check for the same elements, but also make any changes to fix the errors he pointed out. I had three weeks to do so. Also, a few days later, I got a glimpse of my cover!! This was another huge moment for me. Plus, with the copyedited version of my book, my publisher could now order paperback Advance Review Copies (ARCs) to send out to influencers in the industry. Unlike the ABMs, the ARCs will include my shiny new cover!


7 months to go: I had a huge smile on my face once more because another New York Times bestselling author, Hazel Gaynor, had this to say about BECOMING BONNIE and me.

“Jenni L Walsh delivers an intriguing insight into the life of one half of the infamous duo, Bonnie and Clyde. I look forward to reading more from this new author.”

6 months to go: This is where I am now! Soon, I’ll be receiving layouts of my book, which I’ll review to double check for any remaining typos/errors. From that version, my final hardcover book will be made! Also, at the end of December, I’ll be shifting from the production stage of my journey to the promotion stage, when I receive those ARCs. The ARC will allow my publisher and me to get Bonn in the hands of book bloggers and trade reviewers to hopefully create a buzz. It will also be the first time I ever hold an actual copy of BECOMING BONNIE in my own hands. I’m giddy for this milestone.

3 months to go: My publisher will assign me a publicist, who will help spread the word about BECOMING BONNIE, among other things, to prepare for our release.

0 months to go: On May 9, 2017, Bonn will make her debut!

So there you have it. As you can see, a lot goes into the making of a book and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. When it’s all said and done, from the first word I ever wrote of BECOMING BONNIE, my journey to publication will have taken me just shy of 40 months. I need a nap (and an adult beverage).



Author: Jenni L. Walsh

Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years ​chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. BECOMING BONNIE (Tor Forge/Macmillan, 5/9/2017) is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. SIDE BY SIDE, telling Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree story, will be released in the summer of 2018. Please learn more about Jenni's books at

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