Monday, 10 March 2014

Day 1 Part 2 - Perth Writer's Festival

As I mentioned, the post was long, so please click here for Part 1 of this post on what transpires during the editing process.


Fifth, you encounter the Editor. She talks you through the stages of production on a physical level – specifications of page count, orientation, format, paper stock, and binding. Layouts are sent to the printer and author for final sign-off, and the ISBN is acquired. Advance reader copies arrive, but no cocktails are poured just yet. First the author teams up with Media and Promotions to promote. 

Sixth on the list, you make best friends with the Media and Promotions Manager. She is your Publicist. She gets to know you and also any dirt people may like to dish on you. Seriously. She needs to know what may or may not be used to your advantage or the book’s disadvantage. Don’t be shy; be honest. She will pick your brains on what you think your book is about and who you believe your market is. How you make the most of the opportunities she finds for you to promote your book is largely up to you, and it is her greatest hope you will be as adventurous as all heck about it. 

Seventh, you meet the guy dealing with Sales Right and Distribution. He will be working to put your book into the hands of the right distributors and it already at work pitching your book for you before the initial print run. The titles are promoted via the Pub’s website, and registered with the Federal Government for your benefit. He also deals with Subsidiary rights. He keeps his eye on the stock levels and is personally excited about championing your joint venture that is the book. 

Deb Fitzpatrick closed the morning sess with the wise words of knowing her writing was in the right hands and that painstaking work was being done as a team. The Pub process is different each time and the greatest part of the author is to be working hard at helping sell the book. Remember that cocktail that was mentioned? Once you’ve sold 2,000 copies, they are happy enough to remind you of it. When you’ve sold 5,000 copies then they breathe a sigh of relief, and the cocktail is finally poured. Maybe it seems like a big wait. Just remind yourself that being published is a big ask. 

The opportunities are ongoing with all kinds of publishing houses worldwide. If going traditional is not for you, perhaps the next sess will help: deciding on the best publishing medium for your book.


Day 1, Part 1 - Perth Writer's Festival

Well, I realise it’s been at least two weeks since the Writer’s Festival, but it’s also taken me that long to be able to back in the saddle of normal everyday life. Much to my chagrin, I came down with a cold on the second morning of the Festival, and it’s taken me almost this long to get back on track again (I fell asleep during one of the Saturday sessions, but don’t tell. It wasn’t them, it was me).

So. What did I glean from this firsthand experience? One session at a time, these are the barest highlights of how it went. I’ve condensed the gist and will separate it into two posts so the page doesn’t drag on forever. 

Thursday was an exclusive to writers. It was a day of publishing seminars where we were able to ‘meet’ panels of people from various houses and experiences. Hearing from guys and girls on both sides of publishing experiences was interesting and amusing. 

Starting the Thursday was a session with the crew from Freo Press. They tracked through the publication process – from the moment a manuscript is accepted up to the point where the author is plugging the work and helping it sell. Author Deb Fitzpatrick (her latest book is about to hit shelves) walked us through the process by introducing us to the faces behind the job descriptions. 

First cab off the rank is the Assessment Editor. With competition being so fierce it is necessary to present your very best work. If you don’t stand out to the AE, nor will you stand out on a bookshelf. The AE is looking for good technique and the sense that the writer knows what he’s about and knows what he’s doing. Marketability is in play from the very beginning. It may take 3 months for the assessment to take place. 

Second, there’s a Publication Editor. She will also read the MS to ensure the writer is in touch with the general market and in control of the story. If she doesn’t feel a connection with your MS, you may not get much further. If she likes it, she will take it to a pitch meeting where a larger team needs to be convinced of your story’s viability. An author might be advised to resubmit the story at a later time, or will proceed straight to contract depending on the request of the Pub team. If it’s all systems go, an editing schedule will be set. 

Third, your MS goes through the Editing and Print process. It garnered a lot of laughs on the day when the speaker said “It can be daunting but remember we are printing the story because we love it and want it...” (the laughs were more nervous for some than others). A good editor will help your MS, and this process should actually be rewarding. There is a structural edit, which you might liken to a building inspection. Then there is a ‘red-pen’ edit for grammar, spelling, etc. This was the first mention of knowing how to self-edit being of vital importance. 

Fourth, you meet the Designer, and they will ask two key questions.
1)      Who is likely to buy this book?
2)      What is going to appeal to that market?

There will be sketches to test the viability of an idea and draft covers will be presented (the content of the book helps refine the cover). In this instance, it is important to the Designer for the author to love the cover design, but it must also convey to true gist of the MS.

 As stated, this post was long so I broke it up into two parts. Click here for Part 2 of the publishing process.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Help me, I'm pitching & I can't get up...

Oh goodness. I'm headed for our state's largest Writer's Festival and am brushing up on pitching, presentation, and reminding myself that publishers and agents are human, too. Otherwise I may pass out from the terror of having to speak in public. Ok, I'm not that bad, but surely I could improve.

In any case, I'm not panicking, and don't plan to. It's a waste of energy, and I've read enough True Grit by Bear Grylls to know things could be worse. I'm not frostbitten (at least not til I'm standing up in front of everyone), and I'm not starving (unless I forget to bring my purse to buy lunch). Nor am I sailing in a tiny boat against monster waves like Earnest Shackleton (does standing out in a sea of hopefuls count?).

Being prepared makes a truckload of difference, and reminding myself that Fifty Shades of Grey made it into print also gives me hope. I also hope that my point of difference stands out. What actually does set me apart from every other attendee hoping to bend the ear of an agent/editor/publishing rep? That's what I'm clarifying at the moment as I'm surrounded by pages and pages of manuscript and first chapters ready for the taking, eye-catching one sheets, and loglines and synopsises.

The longer I do this the easier and more enjoyable it gets, the more confidence I have about what I'm doing - because my biggest query is whether or not I'm doing it right. And that's possibly the most standout aspect I've learned about this writing life - BE CONFIDENT. If you fall, get up and brush off. Persevere. Know, that while a hundred other people are out there treading writing boards, that your story IS different to all of theirs. Your voice is your own, and no one can tell a story the way you can.

Enjoy the journey, chalk up the experience, and remember the old adage that you haven't failed til you quit.

Like I said, much of this is about gaining confidence, so here are some links to help send you on your way...

7 Advantages of a Verbal Pitch

Secrets of a Great Pitch

7 Tips For Pitching... At Conference

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11v1
Or la foi, c'est la ferme assurance des choses qu'on espère, la démonstration de celles qu'on ne voit pas.