Things I have learned in Publishing

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Putputt

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Hi all! I have always thought to myself that if I were ever trade pubbed, I would post all of the lessons I have learned on here so that others might have a smoother journey, so here it is. Things I didn't know about trade publishing that I now know! Obviously, my experience isn't representative of the bulk of publishing, so take what makes sense and leave the rest etc. (Just fyi, this is based on my experience as both a midlist and a lead title. I couldn’t be happier with my experience with trade publishing, both midlist and lead, and this is a list that I hope would help others with their expectations of what TP might bring to the table!)

WHAT I DISCOVERED IN MY PUBLISHING JOURNEY

-You get a lot more say in your cover than expected. You can't design your own, but you can send your publisher a collage of covers you like. They might listen, or they might ignore you completely, but once you do get a cover mockup, you can ask for changes to it! It actually blew my mind how much changes you could ask for, and how accommodating publishers have been across the board, so this was a really nice surprise.

-If you have a multi-book deal, you can expect to have to draft in a hurry because publishers will take months to green light your pitch or synopsis for book 2. Months that you could have spent writing book 2, but didn't because you were waiting for that green light. By the time your publisher gives you the green light, your deadline is a mere six months away. T_T So. Write a pitch for book 2 ASAP and ask your agent to hound your publisher as soon as you can.

-To add to the previous bullet point, as much as I hate to say this, it’s better if you have a thorough outline to send to your editor before you start writing book 2. So many authors in my debut group have landed in the nightmarish situation of their publisher not liking book 2 and then having to write a whole new book to fulfill their contract. I know that many of us don't like to outline, but writing one might save you a lot of heartache down the road.

-Adding to the "editor is late" list...your editor will most likely be late. Most of my debut group's editors missed their own deadlines. Don't take this personally. Your poor editor is overworked and underpaid, so if they give you a date, expect to receive edits two weeks after that date. You CAN ask for an extension on your deadline if your editor is late in sending you notes. You can be like, "Wait you sent me notes on June 1st and the contract states that I ;need to send you a revised draft on June 2nd, WTF." And your editor will be like, "Ok let's work on an extension, stop crying."

-Similarly, learn to write a synopsis. I just use my outlines as synopses now. If your book is a midlist title, most of the people at the imprint haven’t read it. Don’t take it personally! They just don’t have the time. Your editor will ask you for a synopsis she can use for publicity meetings, so have one ready. If you’re a lead title, everyone at the house and their mother would’ve already read your book, so you won’t need to cough up a synopsis, but it’s better to be prepared either way!

-You could straight up ask your publisher if a certain interview or event is worth doing. I used to think that I have to say yes to everything, but now I've discovered that if I asked my publisher, "Is this event worth my time? Cuz I could be writing during that time." They will tell me: "Actually, they will probably only draw 20 viewers, so only do it if you want to." or "Actually, lots of booksellers attend this event, so yes, it's worth doing." Thus saving me lots of time.

-You could also ask them for support on marketing. Say your publisher isn't doing much marketing for you. You could arrange for your own events and ask the publisher to back you up. For example, I found an author who was willing to do an event with me and located a huge bookstore that does virtual events, but the bookstore wasn't answering any of my emails, so I asked my publisher to contact them on my behalf. I did the leg work and sent my publisher the bookstore's email and a pitch letter about doing an event with the other author. And because my publisher has more contacts than I do, they were able to secure me a virtual event there.

-Blurbs! Do you need them? Jury's still out. If your book is midlist, you will be told that blurbs don't matter. So if you want them, you have to approach authors yourself. If you're a lead title, your publisher will ask their top authors to blurb your book. I will say that my midlist title has done well without blurbs, so don't sweat it if you don't get any!

-Payment: Your payment will be broken up into three chunks. Four if it's a bigger advance. One on signing, one on delivery and acceptance, and one on publication. If it's a bigger advance, the fourth chunk will be paid...a year after publication. :rolleyes:

-Option clauses: Try to get as narrow an option clause as possible. Your publisher will want a huge one like "Next work of fiction" but ask your agent to negotiate it down to at least a specific age category and genre, like "Next work of YA Scifi."

-If you have plans of writing in multiple age categories and genres, you need to discuss this with your agent in advance because your agent will need to come up with a strategy on how to juggle all the crap you're about to throw her way.

-People will tell you to come up with a "brand" and stick to it. This is just another way of saying "stick to one genre." You can do this, and most authors do, but what I didn't know was that...you DON'T have to if you don't want to. I was really stressed out trying to figure out what my "brand" was, until I realized...I don't have one because I want to write literally everything. I talked to my agent about it and she said my brand is "everything," and she strategized how best to pitch me to publishers. So don't worry about it if you haven't identified a "brand." Tell your agent what genres you're passionate about and plan to write, and come up with a strategy together.

-Some agents really want you to find a brand and stick to it. Some agents want you to just write one genre, or one age category. This is a conversation you'll need to have before signing with any agent.

-Some publishers don't want you to dilute the brand that they've come up with for you. Again, conversation with your agent, strategy etc. My agent navigated this by highlighting the fact that I write in multiple genres as a selling point and not a drawback. But I know other authors who were asked to use different pen names so as to keep each brand separate.

Hope this helps! Let me know if there are any questions and I will do my best to try and answer them.
 
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Maryn

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Oh, this is very helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to educate us on the realities.

Maryn, with a lovely smile aimed right at you
 

Putputt

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Oh, this is very helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to educate us on the realities.

Maryn, with a lovely smile aimed right at you
You’re so welcome! :Hug2:
 

Putputt

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:):):) You’re welcome!!
 

TeresaRose

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Thanks for this, and a huge congratulations on your success! :TheWave:
 
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Putputt

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Aaah thank you for the congrats!! :Hug2:
 

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Thank you for taking the time to write this- I love that you want to "give back" and help make things smoother for others- Awesome karma and congratulations on being trade published!!!!!!!

Dial A for Aunties just got added to my Goodreads want to read list- You had me at "hilariously quirky".

A quick question if you are up for it regarding writing the synopsis. I finished my second novel and now I am working on a synopsis, a query, a one sentence log line, and a list of comps in preparation for querying in September.

Regarding the synopsis: Conflicting advice abounds.

Logistics: Is 500 words, 1-2 pages the way to go? Or not?

Quality: I would love to read a few successful ones to get an idea of what a good one looks like. Any quick and dirty advice or favorite places to read up on specifically writing the synopsis? Thank you in advance !

Take care,
Mia
 

MaeZe

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I love this Putputt. I have a finished novel and am now involved in learning a whole new skill of queries, synopses, and finding a list of agents to query. Given it took me ten years to learn how to write fiction and actually get the novel written, I do hope it won't take me anywhere near that long to learn this new skill set. Posts/threads like this help a lot! :Thumbs:

And I can't wait for Dial A for Aunties to show up on Netflix. I recently acquired The Obsession and plan to read that next.
 
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Putputt

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Thank you for taking the time to write this- I love that you want to "give back" and help make things smoother for others- Awesome karma and congratulations on being trade published!!!!!!!

Dial A for Aunties just got added to my Goodreads want to read list- You had me at "hilariously quirky".

A quick question if you are up for it regarding writing the synopsis. I finished my second novel and now I am working on a synopsis, a query, a one sentence log line, and a list of comps in preparation for querying in September.

Regarding the synopsis: Conflicting advice abounds.

Logistics: Is 500 words, 1-2 pages the way to go? Or not?

Quality: I would love to read a few successful ones to get an idea of what a good one looks like. Any quick and dirty advice or favorite places to read up on specifically writing the synopsis? Thank you in advance !

Take care,
Mia
Aahh! Sorry for the late reply!
With the synopsis, when querying, the general advice is to follow the agency guidelines. I think most agencies ask for under 1,000 words? Definitely check the agency guidelines as different agencies ask for different things.

Once you have a book deal, the publicity and marketing team might ask for a synopsis, in which case it would be 500 to 1,000 words.

For the synopsis for your editor, that’s just down to personal preference. I like to be as thorough as possible, so mine end up being 6 to 8 pages long.

I think there are quite a few useful synopses down in QLH. I also looked at Save the Cat beat sheets for popular books and movies just to get a handle on what’s necessary in a synopsis and what isn’t.
Hope this helps!
 

Putputt

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I love this Putputt. I have a finished novel and am now involved in learning a whole new skill of queries, synopses, and finding a list of agents to query. Given it took me ten years to learn how to write fiction and actually get the novel written, I do hope it won't take me anywhere near that long to learn this new skill set. Posts/threads like this help a lot! :Thumbs:

And I can't wait for Dial A for Aunties to show up on Netflix. I recently acquired The Obsession and plan to read that next.
Aaahh!! That is so kind of you. Thank you so much, MaeZe, and I hope we get good news from you very soon!
 
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Shante_

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Thank you so much for sharing! This info is so helpful! Really appreciate your transparency. 😁
 

MaryLennox

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-You get a lot more say in your cover than expected. You can't design your own, but you can send your publisher a collage of covers you like. They might listen, or they might ignore you completely, but once you do get a cover mockup, you can ask for changes to it! It actually blew my mind how much changes you could ask for, and how accommodating publishers have been across the board, so this was a really nice surprise.
Thank you for posting! Super helpful!

I'm happy to hear you are an all-over-the-place writer. I am too, and feel like that has messed me up and I have been regretting it lately. But I also feel strongly about writing about what you are most passionate about/what project I am currently most excited about, and that bounces around all over the place. This has given me some hope. :)

Unfortunately, I had ZERO say in my cover with my one publisher. It was already up on their website when they e-mailed it to me and said, "This is the cover." And there are issues with it. It's my first (and only) book with a bigger publisher. I wanted to be on my best behavior for possible future books/future work with them, so I've never said anything.

However, I have had some books published with small indie presses, and they were really into working on the covers together.
 

Fuchsia Groan

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Unfortunately, I had ZERO say in my cover with my one publisher. It was already up on their website when they e-mailed it to me and said, "This is the cover." And there are issues with it. It's my first (and only) book with a bigger publisher. I wanted to be on my best behavior for possible future books/future work with them, so I've never said anything.

However, I have had some books published with small indie presses, and they were really into working on the covers together.
I think it varies a lot, with covers, from house to house and deal to deal. With my first two books, I had no say at all. (They made great covers, though!) With my new book, I did get input during the process, which has been awesome.
 
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Unimportant

but appreciated anyway...
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It does seem to be hugely variable, from teeny press to established small press to decent trade press to huge conglomerate press --partly luck of the draw, and partly individual author deciding where to draw their line in the sand. I guess it comes down to priorities, in the end?
 
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