What it's like to work with a publisher
In my last post, I wrote about negotiating and signing my publishing contract. That was in early April this year, and since then, I've been working with the publisher to get the book ready.
Of course, my experience is limited to working with one publisher, and from what I've heard, there can be vast differences between the various publishers. So keep that in mind when you read about my experience.
One thing a lot of people don't realise, especially those who have no involvement with the publishing industry, is that when you sign a publishing contract, the publisher usually gets control over what happens next. Of course, you can negotiate specific details as part of the contract, for example, set a timeframe within which the book needs to be published. In addition, most good publishers seem to be motivated to include the authors in decisions and work collaborative (mine certainly did). However, the fact is, the publisher generally has the final say on things like the cover design, publishing timeline, book layout and even title and final content.
That is one of the reasons why I was a bit nervous about signing a deal, and I know of several other authors who prefer to self-publish because they are not willing to hand over this level of control.
I'm glad to say that my publisher has been great to work with. I felt I had a say in all important decisions and that my opinion was always valued.
Here are some of the things that happened since I signed the deal and handed over the final manuscript to the publisher.
The publisher asked me for my ideas regarding the cover design before they even started on it. Since I had thought about it quite a bit, I appreciated that and was happy to share my thinking. I could not be happier with what the designer created! She initially did three versions, and I had a chance to provide feedback. Luckily, the one I liked best was also everyone else's favourite, so this was an easy decision.
I was also lucky to get a great editor who kept me informed as she worked through the book and asked me for feedback instead of just making changes. That was very reassuring. However, one thing I learned is that it can be a good idea to clarify beforehand what kind of editing will be done. I've since learned about all the different types of editing and realised that the publisher and I probably had a slightly different idea of what type of editing would be done.
I was surprised that the editor had relatively little feedback on things like structure, and wording. She mainly focused on making sure everything is correct and makes sense. I’m happy that the book will be published almost exactly as I wrote it. I'm particularly happy that the content and framework presented in the book has not changed. However, as much as I believe in the content of the book, reading it again now, I do wonder if some sections could have been worded and structure even better. I think if I get a chance to write and publish another book, I would be keen to work with a developmental editor who gets more involved in things like structure and wording (and then I probably complain about having to make too many compromises…)
Finalising the sales pitch that goes onto the back of the book was (and still is) probably one of the hardest things we had to do. Turns out, it's easier to write an 80,000-word book than to agree on the perfect short blurb to summarise it. Between the publisher and myself, we came upt with a number of suggestions, but it was hard to find one that felt 100% right. The main challenge was to find the right balance between what is proven to resonate with the market and what is an accurate and authentic reflection of the book, myself as an author and the style the book is written in.
As I write this, we still haven't fully finalised it (as far as I know). I think the publisher will probably make a decision this week as the book needs to go to print to be read for sale on October 28th.
This is one thing I had fairly little involvement with. A few weeks ago, I got to see the book as a PDF file with the designed pages for the first time. The looked awesome! I only had a couple of minor suggestions which were all incorporated so that I’m very happy with the finished look of the pages.
For the last couple of months, I've also been in touch with the publisher's marketing team who have been preparing for launch. They shared the marketing plan with me, and I had an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions. They also asked me to write some content that can be used to promote the book and even to record some videos of me talking about the book.
It will be very interesting to see all of that come alive in the weeks around the book launch on October 28th.
In and amongst all that, the publisher has also been working on the ebook version, set the book up on Amazon and other platforms for presale, negotiated deals with distributors and much more.
I previously wrote about the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs self-publishing and why I chose the former. Having now had some more insights into everything that is involved in getting a book ready for launch, I am very glad that I did go down the traditional route. Doing everything that has been done over the last six months on my own would have been either very expensive or very time-consuming! I'm really glad I had a publisher who seemed to know what they were doing.
Right now, I'm eagerly waiting to get to hold my own book in my hands, and I'm excited (and a bit scared) to see what kind of response it will get once it is out there.
Alright, that marks the end of my First Time Author series for now. I might write more posts later in the year once I have some new insights to share post book launch. But for now, I want to focus on launching the book and doing everything I can to help promote it.
In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments.
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