publication process

Guest post from David Walton: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO PUBLISH MY BOOK?

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Blog, others books, publication process | 4 comments

Today I welcome author David Walton to the blog. His book Superposition is out from Pyr today–be sure to check it out!


There are so many choices these days! Submit your book to a big NY publisher? Try a small press? Publish yourself? Each of these choices have their pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for. And I’ve tried all three.


[Superposition by David Walton]

My first novel, TERMINAL MIND, was published through a small press. The second, QUINTESSENCE, was a hardcover release with Tor Books. My third, QUINTESSENCE SKY (the sequel to the Tor release), I self-published. I have only one experience with each so far, so your mileage my vary, but I can tell you what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned from the journey so far.

1. SMALL PRESS. The best part of working with a small press was the very small number of people involved (two!), each of whom was totally devoted to my book and making it succeed. They cared about my opinion and worked very hard on the book. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a very wide reach. They couldn’t get Terminal Mind in bookstores (for the most part), and even when it won the Philip K. Dick Award that year, not many people knew about it. All in all, however, this was a great experience, and I have no complaints.

2. BIG PRESS. The best part of working with a big press is that it’s big! Everyone has heard of Tor, which means credibility, a bigger advance, and national bookstore distribution. Tor made Quintessence into a beautiful hardcover, and I thought my career was made. Unfortunately, although the book sold a lot more out of the gate than Terminal Mind did, it wasn’t very much by Tor’s standards. It didn’t earn out its advance, and they declined to pick up the sequel. Still and all, an exciting experience that has done a lot to establish my name in the genre and spread awareness of my books.

3. SELF-PUBLISHING. Self-publishing has been an adventure. I approached it differently than many authors do: instead of hiring people to produce the cover art, cover design, interior layout, e-book format, etc., I decided to do it all myself. As a result, it cost me practically nothing to produce Quintessence Sky, though it took a lot of learning and a lot of work. I think the result is quite attractive–not entirely up to Tor’s standards, perhaps, but certainly as good as many small press books. The great thing about self-publishing is that I own it. All the profits come to me, I can run special sales and promotions whenever I like, and it will continue to be available forever.

4. MEDIUM PRESS. What, you say? A fourth option? I thought you were talking about three! We often talk of three categories, but really there’s a whole spectrum. There are not-quite-so-big publishers, and medium publishers, and small publishers, and quite tiny publishers. My fourth and fifth books, SUPERPOSITION and SUPERSYMMETRY, will be published by Pyr Books in April and September. Pyr could be considered a big press–they have national bookstore distribution through Penguin Random House, and they publish a good number of books each year. My experience there so far has been extremely positive: they have the personal enthusiasm and attention of a small press, but the reach and publicity of a larger one.

So… which option is best for you? The answer depends on what you want. None of them are easy roads. None of them is a sure bet for making money. The question is, where do you want the difficulty to be?

If you try for a big publisher, the difficult part will be getting published at all. The competition is fierce, and books are relatively few. If you are published, the difficulties may come in retaining control over your work. What you get in return for these difficulties are the credibility and visibility of a big house, and a crew of smart and professional people to help you succeed.

If you self-publish, the difficult part will be in finding readers. Getting published is easy, and you’ll have complete control over your work. But you won’t have run the gauntlet of agents and editors, and so no one will know if your work is any good or not. It will be difficult to convince them to give it a try. You will also have to do all the work yourself, or pay someone to do so.

There are many options along the spectrum between those two extremes. The best way to publish your book is the way that works for you. Like me, it may even be a different way for each book! May you find success in one or the other, or in the many options that land somewhere in between.


David Walton is the author of the newly released novel SUPERPOSITION, a quantum physics murder mystery with the same mind-bending, breathless action as films like INCEPTION and MINORITY REPORT. His other works include the Philip K. Dick Award-winning TERMINAL MIND, the historical fantasy QUINTESSENCE (Tor, 2013) and its sequel, QUINTESSENCE SKY. He’s also a Lockheed Martin engineer and the father of seven children. You can read about his books and life at

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Links of the Week

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in anthology:story, Blog, clockwork dagger, online publication, public speaking, publication process | Comments Off on Links of the Week

First of all, the ZOMG link of the week: an amazing review of The Clockwork Dagger over on Yes, THE NPR.

This means I’ve now had features in Entertainment Weekly, USA Today,, and the Arizona Republic in the past week and a half, and I wasn’t even arrested!

I am still blog touring and popping up here and there and everywhere.

– My story “Post-Apocalyptic Conversations with a Sidewalk” was just published in Nature! This is one of my favorite works for the whole year.

– I’m interviewed at The Nameless Zine.

– At Write 1 Sub 1 I tell all about “The Horror of Revision Letters.”

Rhonda Parrish interviewed me at her blog.

The second half of my podcast is up at Kingdoms of Evil!


The blog tour for the book and parasol ENDS TODAY. Check it out and spread the word, please!

[9/16: Me signing my first books in public at the Goodyear, Arizona, Barnes & Noble]

[9/16: Me signing my first books in public at the Goodyear, Arizona, Barnes & Noble]

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Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Blog, clockwork dagger, podcast, public speaking, publication process | Comments Off on THE DAY

ZOMG it’s here! The Clockwork Dagger is out! There is much rejoicing!

Pokemon cheer



I’m over on Reddit today for an Ask Me Anything. Log in, post me a question!  I might hop in during the day to answer some, but I’ll definitely be on at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific Time to hang out and answer stuff live. Or semi-dead, depending on how I feel at that point.


Another option to the links below: HarperCollins is now directly selling books, and they have a special deal for The Clockwork Dagger. Through 9/22, you can buy the trade paperback for 15% off and free shipping, and 20% off the ebook.



I’m Cooking the Books with Fran Wilde today! Listen to a podcast where I talk about ice blocks and cheese (firm and hard varieties preferred), and you have a chance to win an ARC of The Clockwork Dagger!

Holy moley, I have an article on the Huffington Post: “The Genre Jumble of Steampunk and Why It Works.”

I’m interviewed at the Qwillery.

Over at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, I discuss how My Favorite Bit in The Clockwork Dagger happens to be map geekery.

The Clockwork Dagger is prominently featured in an article at Entertainment Weekly. Oh boy.

At Spec Fiction Hub, I talk about how gremlins took over the book.

Beyond Historical Fiction: How I Came to Steampunk is posted at SFSignal.

“Why Beth Cato Made Her Fantasy Heroine a Healer” can be read at Bookish.

A list of 10 Things to Know About The Clockwork Dagger is at Niteblade.




Book book BOOK BOOOOOOOOK! Buy it everywhere!


Amazon Barnes & Noble Powell’s Books-A-Million Poisoned Pen Changing Hands Mysterious Galaxy

Clockwork Dagger

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Weekly Round-Up

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Blog, clockwork dagger, public speaking, publication process, reviews | Comments Off on Weekly Round-Up

A few folks have asked, “How are you holding up? What’s it like in the week before the book comes out?”

I’m not feeling particularly stressed right now. I have moments–like when I wake up to a bunch of emails or get frustrated with a blog post–but I wouldn’t say I’m freaking out. I am having trouble with sleep after about 3am but that doesn’t seem to be messing me up during the day, though a nap at some point might be kinda nice. One thing that is bothering me is that my attention is very scattered. I’m trying to work on a new story and I’m not doing my usual output at all because I’m constantly checking my mail or social media. That’s always a temptation, anyway, but now it’s become a complete nervous habit.

It’s a sort of relief to have errands outside the house, things that utterly distract me from the computer and checking all the things. Also, I’ve been reading Ha’penny and now Half a Crown by Jo Walton and those have been awesome and immersive.

On to the link round-up!

I was interviewed by the witty and awesome Tex Thompson! She’s the author of the luscious fantasy western novel One Night in Sixes.

Clockwork Dagger

The Big Blog Tour continues! Win a book and a parasol!

  • The Schedule
    • 9/15 – My, My Shelf & I, excerpt
    • 9/16 – Curling Up With A Good Book, guest post
    • 9/17 – Fictitious Delicious, Q&A
    • 9/18 – Page Turners Blog, review
    • 9/19 – Fangirlish, promo post
    • 9/22 – Novel Novice, guest post
    • 9/23 – Reading Teen, promo post
    • 9/24 – Chapter by Chapter, author interview
    • 9/25 – Jenuine Cupcakes, promo post
    • 9/26 – Good Choice Reading, excerpt


The Clockwork Cookie Tour continues with more sweet goodies to stuff in your face:

– Rebecca Roland with Cookies and Cream Cookies

– J. Kathleen Cheney with Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread


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Timeline to Publication (updated)

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Blog, clockwork crown, clockwork dagger, publication process | 8 comments

How long does it take to traditionally publish a book? Almost three years to the day, in my case. I first posted a version of this back in May but I’ve updated it with more info. If you have any questions on this whole process, just ask.

A note to start: I signed with my agent in March 2011 with another book–one that, unfortunately, did not sell.

September 12th: started writing The Clockwork Dagger
October 27th: completed rough draft

January – July: back and forth dialogue as I worked on major revisions with my agent
Late in year: book goes on submission to publishers
January: first publisher offer on The Clockwork Dagger, soon followed by a second offer
February 22nd: verbal contract with Harper Voyager
not allowed to discuss the book deal in public at all; told very few people
July 3rd: received two-book contract to sign.
July 16th: deal announced in Publisher’s Marketplace. I then shouted it from rooftops.
September 6th: revision letter arrived. Deadline of October 31st.
the big edits; in my case, deleted 10k of 100,000 word book
October 15th: edits mailed in.
November 11th: editor accepted my edits.
December 10th: copyedits arrived, due 23rd.
these are nitpicky edits to clarify things, correct typos and inconsistencies
December 17th: turned in copyedits
Through December and January: back and forth regarding book cover details

January 1-31st: wrote 83k book 2 rough draft
January 29th: page proofs arrived for book 1, due Feb 11th
page proofs are the book formatted for the actual book, but printed on standard computer paper. Only small changes allowed; mostly for typos and formatting, making sure italics are right, etc.
February 4th: mailed page proofs
February: edited book 2 draft, add another 10k
February 20th: found my back cover copy on Goodreads
February 21st: sent in dedication and acknowledgment for book 1
March 3rd: cover posted online

Clockwork Dagger
March-April: book 2 critiques, followed by more rounds of revision
April 14th: submitted book 2 to my editor (deadline was June 1st)
July 21st: revision letter for book 2 arrived; deadline of September 1st
August 15th: submitted revised book 2 to editor
also August 15th: two final copies of The Clockwork Dagger delivered to my house

September 16th: The Clockwork Dagger to be released
September 2015: book two, The Clockwork Crown to be released

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Publishers Weekly reviews CLOCKWORK DAGGER! Eep!

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Blog, clockwork dagger, publication process | Comments Off on Publishers Weekly reviews CLOCKWORK DAGGER! Eep!

This is the week of amazing press. Publishers Weekly, a major book review and trade publication, came out with their review of The Clockwork Dagger. It’s glowing. They don’t say a single bad thing. Octavia is described as possessing “charming Victorian sensibilities, staunch determination, courage, and outspoken independence.” To quote the final line:

“Ample action and a delectably delayed romance propel the story toward a riveting finale, marking Cato as an author to watch.”

Kermit flail

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