Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More About the Publishing Process

By Jill Williamson

In case you missed last Tuesday's post (click here to read it), I walked you through a hypothetical scenario of getting your book submitted to an editor and how the editor got the publisher to make an offer. You're signed the contract and are going to be published! Congrats!

But what happens now?

Even though your manuscript was complete when you submitted it, you have a delivery date to officially turn it in and Tom asked for a few story changes in the contract, so you make those changes then go through the manuscript once more to make everything perfect. Once you officially turn it in, you have nothing to do but wait. You tell people you’re having a book published. You start writing another book. But you've got to wait your turn for Tom to get to you again, because remember, he’s a busy guy.

Eventually you get an email from the marketing director asking you to fill out a marketing information sheet. This asks for your author bio, how you'd describe your book, other possible titles, what you’d like on the cover, names of authors you’d like to get endorsements from, names and addresses of people you’d like to get a free copy of the book to review, names of your local newspapers and TV studios… things like that.

A few months later you get an email from Tom explaining that they’ve changed the title to The Crowl. You don’t love this, so you email your agent for help. Your agent gets involved, but in the end, the publisher is too excited about a tie-in with The Hobbit, so you lose out.

A month later you get an email with your cover art attached. Other than the title, you love it. Whew! At least you don’t have to complain again. You’re really trying to be an easy-going author.

A few weeks later the marketing people email you a link to a book trailer they made for your book. It's ah-some!

Then, while you're on your summer vacation and hop online at a computer in the hotel lobby, there is an email from Tom with your edits. He wants them back in two weeks, and you won’t be home for three more days! You shoot of a quick email to let him know where you are, then open the edits really quickly to see how they look. You see a lot of changes! This depresses you for the last three days of your vacation, but you get home and see that they’re not so bad after all. You spend all day, every day, of the next eleven days getting your edits done and turned in on time. Then you wait.

The edits go back and forth between you and Tom a few more times before you’re both happy with the manuscript. You don’t hear anything for a while until you get a PDF galley of the final book to read for mistakes. This file looks like a book! Your name is at the top of every even page and the title is at the top of ever odd page. You ask your critique partner and your best friend to read the PDF too, make a list of the typos you all find, and email it back to Tom.

More waiting.

Then one day you receive a package with an advanced reader copy inside! It’s your book! It’s beautiful. You laugh and cry and dance and show everyone in town.

You start to get emails from the publicist, who forwards you reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, VOYA, and, if you’re lucky, an endorsement for a well-known author. The reviews are mixed. Some love the book. A few hate it.

Meanwhile, you've been trying to learn the ropes of self-promotion and have set up a release day book signing at your local Barnes and Noble. You've invited all your friends and family. You get a box with your author copies of the final book and you have your friend video tape the moment and post it to Facebook. That night you sleep with a copy of your book on your pillow.

Your book is now showing up for pre-order on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other online retailers! You pre-order a copy from every store, just for fun.

Release day arrives! The book goes live online and you spend the morning watching the Amazon rankings go up, hoping that everyone who promised to buy a copy will. That night you head over to your book release signing. Your friends and family are there to support you. Your mom buys ten copies. Your family and friends all buy one, but you’re most excited about the three people who were actual customers who walked by, asked what all the excitement was about, and bought a book. You’re hoping they’ll become fans and buy book two when it comes out!

So there you have it. Pretty cool, huh? All this takes about a year and a half from submission to the book being available in stores. And that’s much faster than it used to be. Still, if you’d taken a year or two to write that book, to rewrite it over and over, to edit it, find your agent, then work on the book with your agent, we’re talking three years of work with no pay. You've got to really love writing to put in that kind of effort.

So what do you think? I'm going to talk a little more about advances on Friday.

33 comments:

  1. Sounds cool!
    Thanks for the post.

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  2. By an author bio... Is that like a biography? What goes on it? Just something like "Allison is attending X college and lives in X state with her family. This is her first novel."

    And what about other possible titles? Does that mean future books by you?

    And names and addresses of people you want to review it... Is that for book bloggers or good friends? Or what?

    Ou, and "The Crowl" is a lame title. Boo! Hobbit sales guy strikes again. :P

    I'm not sure what sounds awesomer getting ARCs, the book trailer or book signings!

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    1. Allison, I actually wrote a post on writing bios a couple weeks ago for Nicole O'Dell's teen writing column: http://nicoleodell.com/2012/06/on-teen-writing-writing-killer-author-bio/

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    2. Allison,
      As to the other possible titles... that is just a list of suggested alternate titles to the book you've submitted. For the book I recently sold to Zondervan, I called it Captives. But on the proposal, I suggested also: The Safe Lands and the Messengers as potential titles. Then Zondervan wanted to change the title to Pandemic and use The Safe Lands as the trilogy title. But Pandemic didn't fit my story, and when I explained that, they decided in the end to keep the title Captives. So you never know what will happen with your book title.

      For me, getting the ARC was the coolest because it was an actual book with my name on the cover! Super cool moment--every time!

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    3. Thanks, Jill!

      Holding the ARC sounds awesome! Someday, I hope to hold my first ARC. :) just not right now. :P

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  3. Wait. Did I miss something, or are there actually writers out there who are only in it for the money? :D

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    1. LOL!
      There are plenty of those guys out there. :-P

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  4. Wow. Thanks for the post! It's fantastic. Now I just have to get to work on my book... and hope they don't change the title to "The Crowl" if it ever gets published :D

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    1. Yeah... Good thing there is no crowl story...

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  5. Oh my goodness, Jill. I love that you photoshopped your Crowl cover into the picture of the girl reading. You're too funny...

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    1. That is awesome. The wonders of photoshop. :)

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    2. Haha . . . I didn't notice that! That's hilarious!!! ^_^

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    3. Yeah... that's called procrastination at its worst! I should have been writing. But that was way more fun at the time. Ha ha.

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  6. I am totally excited and scared now. AAH! I hate doing bio's, I never know what to write that sounds professional. Now I want to finish writing my story so I can get this whole process over with and have my books in stores, selling!

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    1. Hehehe . . . you're gonna be that person someday, Kataleen. The marketing director. ^_^

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    2. Do not stress over writing a bio! Worst-case scenario you can ask your publisher or agent to help you. For now, just work on making that book the abso-smurfely best book it can be!

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  7. Awesome post! I never thought the author might get a say in what goes on the cover, which is really important to me. (I'm so bad with judging books by their covers. I do it all the time.) This whole post makes the entire process seem more...human. :) I was wondering how often, or if at all, the author will meet their agent ad editor face to face? It seems like it's all done through emails and phone calls (which is not the end of the world for me, the introvert.)

    Thanks again for the post!

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    1. Jill's computer access this week is kinda spotty (she's a camp counselor to some lucky kids this week) so I'll answer from my experience.

      Most writers spend very little face-to-face time with their agents or editors. I've had my agent for a little over 2 years, and I've been face-to-face with her twice. And I've never met my editor from Revell. With everybody so spread out (agent in Oregon, editor in Michigan, me in Kansas) it's just tough to find many opportunities.

      That's one of the unique things about conferences, getting that face-to-face time. And that's true for agents and editors too. Writers conferences are some of the only times they see each other either.

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    2. Yeah, I met my agent (Amanda Luedeke) before I signed with her, which was SO VERY NICE!!! (Try to do that if you can.) But I only see her once or twice a year. But we talk on the phone, and that's good. And she will fight for me if she needs to in the area of cover or title if I'm extremely unhappy. It hasn't happened yet.

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  8. These have been VERY informative posts! :) Thank you so much!

    I do have one question though...
    I'm writing a fantasy saga (four books!). At what point in the process would I sneak in the "and I'm planning three books after this one" conversation and with whom? :)

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    1. That is something you say verbally when you pitch to an agent or editor, "The Crowl is the first in a series of four books about a crowls journey to becoming a master crowl." (That's pretty horrible, but fill in the crowl parts with your story and that should help. LOL)

      You would also but this on your book proposal and at the end of your synopsis. For my new series with Marcher Lord Press I think I wrote: The New Recruit is the first of four novels about Spencer's experiences in The Mission League.

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  9. These posts are SO helpful. I've been writing for 3 years...but I still don't know much about the "inside" publishing world. These posts are real eye-openers. Thank you!!

    Just a small question... :) How important is it to do things like book signings when you're a first-time-author and your book has just come out??

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    1. I'd actually really like to know about this to. Is it important to do booksigning's when your first book is released?

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    2. Not really. If people don't know you, they likely won't come out to buy your book and have you sign it. But it's always a good idea to try and do a booksigning in your hometown so that people start to know you as a local author.

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  10. I have to ask...once you sign your contract, can the publishing comapny do things like change your title and stuff without asking you? And besides complaining really loudly, is there anything you can do about it? And how much influence does the author have on the cover art? (I'm really bad about being picky with cover art...particularly when it's depicting my charries.)

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    1. Sorry! Just saw this comment!
      Yes, they can change it. It's in most contracts that the publisher has final say over cover and title and final edits. Publishers want the author to be happy, though, and usually inform them when a title is being changed. This is when it's good to have an agent battle for you if you're unhappy.

      Cover art depends on the publisher. Most will ask you for your ideas up front, then they'll show you the final cover. If you hate it, you can get your agent involved.

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  11. Super helpful, thanks for posting this Jill. :)
    I am very picky about what my title is like, but I'm also good at compromising too haha. Though sometimes I welcome title suggestions because I can't come up with one myself to say what my story is about right on the front cover... I'm horrible at that.
    Love this post.

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  12. Way cool post! The Crowl! LOL

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Disagreement is welcome. Rudeness is not. Please be considerate of each other!