Debut Diary #3 – Timeline

By Kellye Garrett

I have 49 days until Hollywood Homicide is released on August 8—not that I’m keeping track or anything. People often ask why it takes “so long” for a book to come out. I figured I’d give you a timeline to help answer that question.

March 29, 2016: Author Catriona MacPherson posts a message in the Save Our Cozies Facebook group from her editor (Terri Bischoff) at Midnight Ink: “I’m looking for cozies right now. If you have submitted one to me and haven’t heard back, please resubmit this week.”

My agent, Michelle Richter, queried Midnight Ink in February so she follows up.

March 30, 2016: Terri asks to read my manuscript.

April 13, 2016: Michelle emails that Midnight Ink has “expressed interest.”

I’m in shock.

But will that interest turn into an offer? The waiting game begins. Terri needs to take my book to acquisitions, where she’ll pitch my book to other Midnight Ink staffers and hope they agree they should buy my book. Unfortunately, so many manuscripts “die” in acquisitions so an editor “expressing interest” is by no means a guarantee of anything. We’re not sure when Terri will take it to acquisitions so we wait.

May 25, 2016: Michelle emails me. Subject line: WE HAVE AN OFFER. Included is an Offer Memo — a one page document explaining the overall contract. I literally have a complete breakdown – at work. When I FaceTime my mom, I’m crying so hard that my almost 2-year-old niece says, “Kel Kel’s crying.” My mom tries to explain they are happy tears.

Michelle begins negotiating my contract. She keeps me apprised of the bigger points but otherwise I’m not involved in the day-to-day.

June 6, 2016: The contract is done! It didn’t take a long time, but I know people who had to wait months. We still can’t announce it until we get the contract back from Midnight Ink with everyone’s signatures.

June 16, 2016: Terri emails me. It’s actually our first interaction. She sends author photo guidelines and an Author Questionnaire, which publishers make authors complete to help them market the book. Midnight Ink wants my bio, a short and long synopsis, and even a suggestion for an excerpt.

She also wants to discuss cover ideas! Different Publishers do things at different times. I have a friend who didn’t discuss covers until after she got her copy edits.

June 26, 2016: Final signed contracts are in! I can announce. My deal announcement goes live on Publisher’s Marketplace the next day.

August 4, 2016: Initial cover mock-ups hit my inbox. You can read about my cover process in last month’s Diary entry.

August 10, 2016: Terri sends “Vision Notes,” which also includes edits from my production editor, Sandy. These big picture edits are luckily very minor.

September 14, 2016: I receive a cover mockup for the new design concept. This one is black and white. I love it—except for her eyebrows. We’re all allowed to have one High Maintenance Author Moment and my obsession with Dayna’s eyebrows was mine.

September 20, 2016: Midnight Ink ends a semi-final color version of my cover. Once again, I’m crying happy tears. It’s the most beautiful non-living thing I’ve ever seen. And the eyebrow concerns have been addressed.

September 29, 2016: Terri, Michelle and I begin asking some of my favorite writers to read my manuscript and blurb it—AKA, write an endorsement in a few catchy sentences. Luckily, almost everyone we ask agrees to blurb the book.

October 14, 2016: My publicist Katie reaches out. We chat about a publicity plan. She’s super open to my suggestions, which include reaching out to my favorite black magazines and websites.

January 19, 2017: My ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) arrive! Midnight Ink will give these away at conferences and send them to reviewers in hopes that they will support my book when it comes out in six months.

March 8, 2017: Sandy reaches out to me to let me know the schedule for page proofs and line edits. They’ll be coming next month! Again, every publisher works differently.

April 6, 2017: As promised, my hard copy proofs come. I have one month to read everything over and make sure I’m happy with Sandy’s suggested changes. I figure I can read it in a day or two.

Dead wrong.

I can’t just skim. I have to read it line-by-line. Plus Sandy has some really good logic questions/changes. I literally turn this in on the last day they’re due.

May 16, 2017: Sandy sends my final updated proofs and a few lingering questions. This is my last chance to make any changes to the manuscript, which is kind of scary. Especially since I’m a person who will tweak a sentence to death. One thing I didn’t expect is how I would feel about reading my own book so many times. I’m kind of sick of reading it. The proofs also include my dedication, acknowledgements and author bio.

I dedicated my book to my best friend from college who passed away in 2012. I always knew I’d dedicate the book to her but seeing in print makes me cry—not happy tears.

June 2017: Hollywood Homicide is sent to the printer. I haven’t seen a final copy yet but physical copies of my book exist. Dayna is somewhere out there giving #blackgirlmagic on the cover of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books.

And her eyebrows are looking amazing!

That’s it until next month! Feel free to comment or hit me up on any of social media:







Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, will be released by Midnight Ink in August 2017.

About Hollywood Homicide:


Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

To learn more about Hollywood Homicide, click on the cover below: