Or 25 Things a Publisher Actually Does Before a Book is Published
In the year before publication a publisher must:
- Check to see the title is original enough to market, if not, change the title
- Get the manuscript professionally edited
- Layout the manuscript and transform it into a print-ready PDF
- Get a cover professionally designed that is beautiful and fits the genre for the book
- Spend two to four weeks proofing the print version of the book
- Get the printed book copy-edited: fix typo, grammar, and formatting issues
- Get several versions of a description written, one for the flap, several for web and other uses
- Send advance copies to major and minor reviewers to capture some good press and blurbs (for the novel I’m currently promoting this was 60 reviewers, each requiring a personalized letter)
- Execute giveaways that generate reviews and buzz
- Design bookmarks or postcards for a direct mail campaign to bookstores or organizations
- Research the market and send out materials to a that particular niche
- Design the ebook
- Plan a blog tour
- Find authors willing to read and write blurbs for the back of the book
- Follow up with blurb writers gifting them finished copies of the book
- Keep the web page for the book updated with reviews and blurbs
- Facilitate the author’s participation in the blog tour, in staying active on Goodreads, her approval (or disapproval) of edits, and marketing to their group of friends and associates
- Research ad campaigns and pick the best version for the particular book
- Design the advertising, write the copy
- Write promotional blogs, tweets, Facebook shares
- Prepare a media kit: professional looking and well-written promotional materials
- Query media for reviews/interviews and send out media kits
- Talk to everyone about the book
- Plan promotional campaigns for the first months of publication
- Nervously wait for the pub date!
And there are many more tasks I didn’t list!
Marketing = Publishing
I didn’t believe it either, does publishing really have to take so long? But then I published a book with only two months of prep and I realized, huh, it’s not selling at all. When I first started my publishing company, Raincloud Press, I promised myself I wouldn’t take 12 months to get a book out the door. Well, I changed my tune pretty quickly after that first book. I realized there’s a lot more to it that just getting a nice cover. Most of the work in publishing is trying to assure your book is discovered out there where there are quite literally millions of books.
I get asked a lot about what a publisher actually does. I’ve had to learn this from scratch and I am still learning what it means to be a good and effective publisher. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there like the Independent Book Publishers Association and countless others.
Early on in my journey becoming a publisher I subscribed to Publishers Weekly. At first, it was like reading Egyptian tablets. I would have never guessed that in two years I’d be able to read that thing cover to cover. I get something out of every issue. In a recent issue, I read an interview with an author who I thought was a perfect fit to write a blurb for a book that’s forthcoming. I researched the author’s contact information, queried her about the project, and she agreed to read the manuscript. These are the small successes that keep me going every day.
I spent 2015 preparing three books for publication in 2016. Though it was hard giving up publishing anything for a whole year, I knew that the titles I had would need the midwifing I could only give them with plenty of time and a great team of editors, designers, writers and printers. Being a publisher has taught me about delayed gratification, but now I have concrete dates to look forward to: