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.