I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Saturday, July 7, 2012

TOPIC: Being a Published Author - What's involved once you publish?

The magic words we all want to hear from an editor - we'd like to buy your book - results in yahoo'ing, happy dancing, popping of corks on champagne, squee'ing...but what happens after OBC (the offer of a book contract)?

Well, the publishing process begins, and while what I share happens roughly in this order, some of the steps are flexible and can occur at different times through out the process.

Negotiating contractual deadlines - this is where you need to know what word count you're able to produce in order to complete a book. It will determine the deadlines you set for handing in a finished product (edited & polished) to your editor. And this, in turn, will impact the scheduling of your release date, the editing process, cover art etc.

Some things to consider when working out your deadlines - daily word count x months it takes to complete your book, your regular routine, being sick, juggling work or volunteer commitments, unanticipated interruptions. And then add another month just to be on the safe side.

Writing the book - self explanatory. However you do it, get it down and drafted. One of the most bantered about phrases is "You can't edit a blank page."(coined by an author, whose name escapes me, at a writing conference). This is so, so true.

Cover conference ideas
Cover art - if you're lucky your editor will ask you for ideas about your cover. If invited, include things like character descriptions, synopsis, photo's of landscapes/hero/heroine/costumes/weapons etc.

Anything that will help convey the tone, theme or story of your book to the art department/cover artist.

Your editor and art department will come up with a brief for the commissioned cover artist.
Cover conference ideas
The cover artist will hire the models, costumes, prop etc. and do the photo shoot before photo-shopping in the background. When they send the finished product back to the art deptartment, the title, cover quote, tagline, back cover blurb etc. will be added.

Some publishing houses may not include you in the consultation process. It all depends on house policy.

Pre-Berkley work-up. Artwork: Gene Mollica
As a matter of courtesy, my editor forwarded the covers of my books to my agent and I and asked if I was happy with it.

Both times my agent and I discussed the covers and requested a couple of tweaks. They were given the nod and the final cover was approved for printing.

Back Cover Blurb/Title - between the cover copy team, your editor and you, you'll write a blurb for the book.

Cover Copy
This is the time you're likely to have the most input as the back cover blurb must accurately portray your story. If something isn't right or needs tweaking then say so.

Be prepared to submit possible titles for your book as well. One may be chosen, more likely there will be some tweaking and to'ing and fro'ing of ideas and suggestions until your editor comes up with the final product. Hopefully it will be something you like or at least are happy with.

Tag line & Cover Quote - Your editor may request you provide a 'wishlist' of authors whom you'd like to read your book and provide a quote that may go on the cover, back cover, cover pages or other promotional material.

My agent and I, as well as my editor, approached my wishlist authors for the quotes on VENGEANCE BORN. Thankfully all of them said yes to our requests.

Revisions - these are the big picture fixes suggested by your editor and may include comments on things like plot lines, characters, pacing, and scene deletions. AND you may go through multiple rounds of these before your editor signs off on them.

Deadlines for these are negotiable depending on the amount of work involved. Be honest with yourself when setting them. Don't be tempted to try and get them done ASAP. Give yourself some wiggle room.

Line Edits/Galleys - now converted to book format
Line edits/galleys - these are the nitty gritty such as spelling (for me it was changing from English to US English), grammar, formatting, punctuation etc. Every publishing house will have it's own in-house style on how they want these sorts of things corrected.

This is not the time to make massive story line changes or scene additions or deletions. The deadline for these are usually set by your editor.

Advance Review Copies (ARC's)
Advance Review Copies (ARC's) - these are printed before the line edits make their appearance in the final copy before it goes to print. It's the book printed out, usually with the words "Uncensored Proofs for Limited Distribution, Not for Sale" or something to that affect.

Most authors get several of these. They are sent out by your editor and/or publicist to book bloggers for advanced reader reviews. You might use them as contest giveaways or to build pre-release buzz.

The final product!
Final copy  - if it's written in your contract you'll get a certain amount of author copies sent to you to do with as you wish. You can give them to family or friends, or use them in contests and giveaways.

The day you get that box in the mail is an emotional one. Have a box of tissues handy.

Promotion - publishers are likely to send out information to their booksellers in a seasonal catalogue, or they may distribute excerpts/promotional material on your behalf. Promotion of your book will vary author to author, publishing house to publishing house.

I took the view that there would be no one as keen as me to promote my book, so I planned, budgetted and organised a lot of complimentary promotion, on top of what my editor and publicist provided. Take on only what you feel comfortable doing and stick to your budget.

So, basically, this is the publishing process you'll go through with each book. Something to keep in mind is that amidst all this you could juggling the following (particularly if you have negotiated a multiple book deal):
  • writing the next book
  • editing a previous book as per the publishing process mentioned
  • promoting another of your books
  • life outside writing
All these things will affect deadlines. After you've gone through the process with your first book and experienced the demands of time, work and effort required of you, then you'll be better equipped to handle the next book and so on.

Just remember, every author's experience will be different and that some of the things I've explained here may vary depending on your editor, agent, and publishing house.

The most important thing though is to learn and enjoy the process. :-)


  1. Thanks for that insight, Kylie. It's always good to have a heads up of what to expect after that magic OBC and acceptance thereof day comes. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing as always, Kylie. Lots to think about there. I wonder how many would give up if they knew how much work was involved? ;)

  3. Thanks for the terrific and informative post. There's more work to a book than most people realize!

  4. The hardest part - apart from getting a publisher - I find, is writing the synopsis and back cover blurb!

  5. Great post Kylie! Would love it if you could do a post for this series on promotion, with a breakdown of what worked or didn't work. Pleeeease?

  6. Happy this is useful fodder for you all, ladies!

    Adina, there's a previous promotion on "Vistaprint is my friend" where I've outlined what seems to have worked re: the products (but this is based on my opinion only).

    As for whether any of the other things I do re: promotion - newsletter, social networking etc. gauging how effective it is really isn't measurable.

    The other factor to consider is that promotion is such a personal thing and what works for one may not work for another. I've asked other authors and their responses reflect this.

    But having said that I can write another post about what I've found so far, as long as everyone understands that I have no real hard evidence to back up my opinions and this could all be totally different to what someone else discovers in their journey.

    One more thing, I've only been in the publishing game less than a year, so I haven't had a lot of time to evaluate the effectiveness of what I've been doing.

    I'll keep your request in mind and think about what should go in this post - thanks for your feedback and question, Adina. I appreciate it.

  7. Thanks, Kylie.
    Your post is timely for me as I've recently completed content edits on my first novel. Although mine will be e-published and I won't have that glorious moment of opening the box filled with copies of my book, I'm hoping to do something like print out an A4 version of my cover for my wall, just to make it real and tangible for myself.
    All the best with your series--it's fab.

  8. Thank you, Sue! Good luck with your release too!!!