Takin’ the long way around: FROM UNSEEN FIRE’s path to publication

A tale of a book, from pen to shelf:

November 2011 — Project begins, called simply Aven, as Cass’s 2011 NaNoWriMo project, an attempt to get herself writing creatively again after several years devoted to academia.

December 2011 — Cass sets to finishing the draft and polishing it up.

July 2012 — Cass scrambles to finish editing her draft in the hopes that it’s fit to be seen and attends a couple of pitch meetings at Ascendio, a Harry Potter convention in Orlando.

August 2012 — Cass realizes this draft wasn’t really ready for human beings to see it, after all. Resumes editing.

January 2013 — With a better-polished draft, Cass begins writing her query letter and researching agents.

January-October 2013 — Cass queries. A lot. And gets rejected. A lot. So she keeps querying. And querying. And querying, with a certain manic gleam developing in her eyes.

August 2013 — Cass’s 31st query letter goes to someone looking for political fantasy with strong heroines.

October 2013 — Cass signs with her agent, Connor Goldsmith! They begin working on revisions together.

Mid-2014 — After an initial round of submissions, some more revisions, synthesizing the feedback we got from the first couple of editors who took a look.

January 2015 — Second round of submissions begins.

Spring-Summer 2015 — After a few promising conversations followed by kind rejection letters, Cass begins mentally preparing herself to shelve Aven.

September 2015 — Three days before her thirtieth birthday, Cass gets the best present ever: a Deal.

October 2015 — Cass officially signs a three-book deal with DAW and can tell the world about it!

October 2015-October 2016 — Cass works with her first editor on revisions, aiming for a release date of September 2017.

July 2016 — Cass and her editor finally settle on a title, A Flame Arises.

October 2016 — Cass’s editor moves to another publishing house; Cass gets passed up the chain to her current editor. New rounds of edits begin.

January 2017 — The title gets changed to From Unseen Fire.

April 2017 — Cass’s release date gets moved for the first time, pushed to January 2018.

July 2017 — With edits still ongoing, Cass’s release date gets moved for the second time, pushed to April 2018.

October 2017 — Cass finishes edits with her second editor.

November 2017 — Cass’s release date gets moved a third time, though only by two weeks this time, now scheduled for April 17th. The manuscript moves on to copy edits.

December 2017 — Copy edits come back for Cass to review.

And from here, things should speed up! We’ll be going to proofs and ARCs soon, and the marketing wheels will really get into gear. I’m so excited for that. I just can’t wait to introduce everyone to the world of Aven. I’ve been chomping at the bit for ages, and soon, I’ll be given my head.

But you can see how I’m the poster child for the occasionally glacial pace of the publishing industry. This project will be six and a half years from beginning to bookshelf, and the bulk of that time was after I made it through the first hoop of signing with an agent. It’s often felt like the goalposts keep moving. I’ll think something is secured, like the title or release date, and then it changes. Sometimes more than once. The promised day when the book will be a Real Thing has gotten so far away that I have trouble believing it’s actually going to happen. But, as my agent reminds me when I’m about to spiral out, it will. It is happening. And time will keep moving forward to get me there.

If you’re an aspiring author and you feel like it’s all moving so slowly, please, don’t let that discourage you. I know. It is slow, and when our world moves so fast, that can seem intolerable. And I know, particularly if you’re among the writing community on twitter, it can feel like everyone else is just tripping into success after success all the time, while you’re waiting for just a single scrap of good news. It’s tough. But perseverance truly is the key. Or, as I often think of it, sheer cussedness and a refusal to be ground down.

Now that you know how From Unseen Fire got whipped into fighting shape, pre-order the book from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or your favorite independent bookstore. Books make great holiday gifts — print off the cover and pop it in a box! For further behind-the-page peeks, join Cass’s Patreon.

Author: Cass Morris

Cass Morris lives and works in central Virginia and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She completed her Master of Letters at Mary Baldwin University in 2010, and she earned her undergraduate degree, a BA in English with a minor in history, from the College of William and Mary in 2007. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart.