Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The perilous trade examined.

Ever wondered what goes in to publishing a book? How many people are actually involved? What does it cost the publisher, the author, and the distributor to get the book out there? What are the differences in the experience of publishing with a large publisher vs. an indie press? Do people even buy books anymore?

As someone who has worked on the publisher's side of the table for many years, I know most of what goes into the process:
  • author works with editor to craft manuscript
  • manuscript goes to designer for cover treatment and layout
  • cover and sample spreads go to sales team for input
  • sales team hates cover (okay, maybe not always!)
  • everything is tweaked and finalized and the book lands on the desks of the marketing and publicity team (who have been working tirelessly, and largely unnoticed, for the previous three months trying to make people aware of the impending literary event)
  • book is whisked out into the real world to be harshly scrutinized or feted or (worst of all) ignored.
But each of these stages has myriad fascinating little stories associated with it. How is it that editors and authors so often form deep bonds of friendship and respect, when the job of one is essentially to tell the other that she didn't get it right the first time? How does a designer calmly digest, and often implement, the suggestions and criticisms of an author who he knows knows nothing about design, composition, or generally making things look good? Why is it that the publisher's marketing/publicity department is so often said to be the orchestrator of a book's failure, but rarely of its success (I feel you, publicists, I really do)? 

As I wade through the publishing process for the very first time as an author, I'm finding that the process looks completely different, and is infinitely more difficult to navigate, from the other side of the table. Instead of thinking only about what will sell, or what will flow best on the page, I've had to start thinking about completely new concerns. What will I do if I don't like the image the designer picks for the cover? What if I get a bad review? What will my dad think if I have this character take off his pants in this scene?! This time, it's personal.

So, I've decided to catalogue my thoughts and experiences and send my rants and raves on the process out into the blogosphere.

For all the drama and operatics that go into their creation, there is no better place to be than on a team of folks whose sole goal is to create a really great book. Wish me luck and check back for more as the process unfolds!

Up Next: February 2012, Let the Editing Begin!