Viewing entries tagged

You Should Probably Self-Publish If…


You Should Probably Self-Publish If…

When your desires and expectations for certain parts of the publishing process exceed a traditional publisher's ability to meet them, self-publishing may be a great option for you. Read about 10 signs indicate self-publishing may work better for you than traditional publishing.



5 Reasons I Love Working with Agents

The word on the street about editor-agent relationships is muddled at best and negative at worst. But I don’t give that much thought when I am in the trenches with an agent reviewing a proposal and negotiating an author’s contract. I decide how my relationships with agents are going to be—and I like working with agents. 



16 Things Your Editor May Be Doing When You Call

If you wondered what your editor is doing like right when you call or send an email, most likely he or she is not working on your manuscript. There is a small chance that time and chance may line things up just right for you to call as they are editing your manuscript or reading your proposal, but most likely not. So if you catch a hint that they don't have a clue about what you're wanting to know, for a split second, that's true. But they'll quickly catch up.

When an author calls or emails me, my mind is usually on something entirely different. I am what most people call a "real" editor. Just kidding. No, seriously, I edit and acquire books for publication. So when I am not doing acquisitions, I am editing. And when I am not editing, I am doing acquisitions. I edit approximately ten to fifteen projects during a four-month season (Winter, Spring, and Fall). Then I am developing about twenty to thirty acquisitions prospects at any given time--I work for a small-to-med-size house (about 50-70 titles published per year). Not to mention, traveling just a bit to writers conferences and author events. And the meetings! OK, I won't even go there.

So when you call or email, most likely
  1. I am editing another author's book.
  2. I am editing another author's back cover copy.
  3. I am doing some online super-sleuthing for new authors.
  4. I just got off a long conference call with another author or an agent.
  5. I am responding to a long emailed list of contract revisions from an agent or another author.
  6. I am writing an edit letter to another author.
  7. I am preparing proposals for an upcoming acquisitions meeting.
  8. I am preparing a monthly activity report.
  9. I am on my way to a meeting.
  10. I am just getting back from a meeting and I am trying to figure out where I left off in my work.
  11. I am taking action on the action steps from a meeting I just attended.
  12. I am honing my telepathy skills when I have no idea what another author is talking about in the book I am editing.
  13. I am trying to decode a cryptic request from someone who just stopped by my desk and asked me to do something for them.
  14. I am making a desperate attempt to create a to-do list so I don't forget anything that has to do with the thirty to fifty projects I have in the pipeline.
  15. I am conceptualizing a best seller (yes, it pays to speak positively).
  16. I am shutting down my computer and on my way home for the evening.
None of these are wimpy tasks; they are all quite cerebral and take lots of focus. So sometimes, I am even a little startled when the phone rings, "Like what the heck is that thing ringing for!" LOL! I am sure you can relate when it comes to your field.

Sometimes I wonder if authors think that they are the only author their editor is working with at the time. Do you? That would be ideal, let me tell you. But since it's not reality, I hope you can extend some grace to us when we have to play a bit of catch up with you, we let the call roll over to voice mail, or we don't respond to your emails right away. We will get back with you as soon as we know we can give you the attention and focus you need. Truly, your success is our success, and you matter.

So, what are you doing when we call you?


Book Proposal Checklist

1 Comment

Book Proposal Checklist

Before you hit "send" on that query or proposal to that agent, editor, or publisher, you'll want to make sure you've dotted all your Is and crossed all your Ts. Here's a list that could help you get one step closer to your publishing dreams.

1 Comment


What Are the Components of a Completed Manuscript?

I write this assuming you are a writer whose book has sold to a publisher and now you are working with your manuscriptwriting, researching, gathering facts, honing your key concepts, and all the other necessary goodies that make for a best-selling book.

This post may not apply to the author who was well-coached and managed by a fantastic agent, where everything on my list below was presented at the time of initial query.

But for everyone else...

This is the stage between contract and submission of your final manuscript. What I find when I am wearing my editorial hat (and not my acquisitions hat) is many times I receive a manuscript from an author that is missing quite a few vital components. These components should be part of the writing phase as the author prepares his or her manuscript for publication. I realize that some authors may not be aware of what is part of their manuscript prep and what the editor does during the editorial phase. So often, the things I mention below are overlooked and, by default, land on the editor's plate. (For a refresher of what an editor does, see a previous post.)

Now if you're an author who values a good editor, this should be very disturbing, because what you want is for your editor to spend as much quality time with your content as the editorial schedule will allow. An editor is an expert at making sure the author is all neat and tucked in, but should they also be responsible for doing things the author should have prepared beforehand?

That's a rhetorical question.

But here's another angle. With the whirlwind of trying to get published in the first place and then negotiating the best contract terms, deciphering publishing agreement jargon, working with marketing and sales on best strategies, and fighting through writer's block while working a nine-to-five job, maybe authors are just ready to get that all-consuming thing off of their desk, collect their advance, and are not going back to see what their publisher needs from them to count their manuscript as complete.

Well I'd like to help authors and editors everywhere by providing a little checklist of items and tasks that need to be completed before an author submits their final manuscript to their publisher. Not all of these elements will apply to all projects.

Here's what you need to turn in with your manuscript:

  1. Endorsements
  2. Dedication
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Foreword
  5. Preface
  6. Prologue
  7. Introduction
  8. Table of contents
  9. List of tables, charts, graphs, or images
  10. Charts/tables
  11. Graphs
  12. Photographs, graphics, or other images
  13. Print licenses for song or poetry lyrics; long quotes from books, websites, and news articles; use of charts, graphs, or photographs; or any other copyrighted material
  14. Full sourcing (or citation) information for all borrowed and quoted material including author, title, publisher's city and state, publisher's name, publishing date, page number, and/or web link
  15. Signed releases from subjects mentioned by name or likeness in your book (changing a subject's name is not enough)
  16. Conclusion
  17. Epilogue
  18. Appendices
  19. Bibliography
  20. Endnotes or footnotes
  21. Index list
  22. About the author page
If I were an author at this stage (between contract and final manuscript), I would print this list and put it up in my writing station.

Just sayin'.

Many times, and maybe other editors can relate, chasing down and completing this information impose on my edit time—especially signed releases, print licenses, and sourcing. While I love the thrill of a chase, my time could be better spent really homing in on the author's message or story and helping them make it shiny and life-changing for their readers. It's for the readers that publishers and authors do any of it, right?

Those are just my thoughts as they occurred to me today. What do you think? Did I miss anything? If so, please add them to the comments. Also if you need clarification on what any of the items on the list mean and how to go about getting them, let me know. I'll blog about it for you.


What Happens to Writers After the Writers' Conference? 7 Things That Should NOT Happen


What Happens to Writers After the Writers' Conference? 7 Things That Should NOT Happen

You finally meet with the editor or agent, and to your surprise, after thinking their favorite word is no, they say they like your concept and would love to see more of it. “Here’s my card,” they say. “Please email me a full proposal.” The words you had practiced to combat any objections are caught in your throat and all you can say is, “Oh! Oh, that’s great. OK! Yes? Really? OK! Thank you!”

Yes, they want you to send them your manuscript (or proposal). But you know what some writers do? OK, wait. This requires a list.



The Secret Life of Acquisitions

There’s one thing I think we all—editors, agents, writers, and published authors—can take for granted from time to time during the submissions and acquisitions process. But I think we can all take it down a notch and recognize this one thing—process breeds relationship. Or, maybe I should say, process can breed relationship.

With all the hustle and bustle and demands of the market, we sometimes forget that we are people involved with connecting to other people at some of the deepest, most intimate levels—our passions.

Over the last year or so, I have found myself involved in acquisitions more and more, and what brings me such joy is that I am connecting with and sharing in people’s dreams. I have the privilege of listening to these very special stories that each impact me in their own special way. It is awesome to see their diversity of expression and the various views many have written—some on the same topic. Then there’s the eating together, the e-mails, the cards, the laughter, the butterflies in my stomach (writers aren’t the only ones a little scared), the Facebook posts, the tweets… I really could go on.

Acquisitions is not only about a publishing house meeting this season’s budget or an author becoming an overnight celebrity, but it is also about a meeting of the minds, opportunities to influence culture, and even a chance to share in someone else’s life journey.

I think we should think about these things more. If we thought more like this, I could see more of a community begin to form where editors and agents are not ogres and writers’ pitches are not time wasters. If you’re a writer, you should read my other post called “Editors Are People Too” and see that editors can closely relate to your struggle with pitching ideas and preparing queries. We have to do the same thing, and we get turned down a lot too.

It’s unfortunate that some of the decision-makers respond to pitches as if they themselves have never been rejected or as if they never were nervous when making a presentation that felt like it could make or break them.

On the flip side, publishing houses are not just there to used by “writers” as a get-rich-quick scheme. While I am not addressing those who do not see publishing this way, I have actually been told by a querying author that if we weren’t going to pay him to do his book so that he didn’t have to work then he saw no value in publishing. All right then, sir with no platform or real passion for writing.

It probably can’t be said enough that publishers are taking a risk by partnering with a new author, and they have a strong vested interest in seeing the author grow and come into his/her own. The goal is not to destroy art and creativity, but to corral it and aim it to benefit as many readers as possible. Consider that what’s behind the “big machine” of publishing are people who use their talents and expertise to pour into the success of the author. They too have an attachment to seeing their efforts take flight.

There are those few authors who see this, and they are some of the favorites amongst the book publishing teams. They understand people power. They are thought of first when opportunities for new book ideas or imprint growth and expansion are discussed.

It’s the editor who connects with an author in a special way, who gets introduced or recommended to that author’s writer friend, and together they produce a best seller.

It’s the writer who was specially gifted and surrounded by this unique awareness but didn’t necessarily fit with this one agent, but they get recommended to another agent who has the perfect place for them. 

Maybe I’m an idealist, but at least there’s something to strive for.

Beyond acquisitions and queries, we’re just people with dreams, with gifts and talents, with a desire to be understood and accepted… And when we connect on that level we are able to help each other leverage the right opportunities that lead to our collective success.

I’ve come to appreciate the relationships I’ve formed with some new writers this year. Perhaps I wasn’t able to sell their idea to the team, but I am in one way or another invested in and rooting for their success. I remember them. I think of them often. I have their thank-you notes posted on my wall and keep a file full of their e-mails. I value them.

Acquisitions is about relationships. Who can I connect with today?



Editors Are People Too

Just sitting here thinking over what was asked of me during our scheduling meeting this morning, and I must admit to having some butterflies. I am pitching two books I found at a writers’ conference earlier this year at our next acquisitions meeting. Being a developmental editor (not an acquisitions editor), this is my first time in seven years accompanying one of my book ideas to an acquisitions meeting. In the past, I’ve come up with ideas and prepared proposals, reviewed and approved or denied submissions, and redeveloped backlist titles that were taken in by the managing editor or editorial director. But now it’s time for me to go deeper and take my ideas in myself, and I am excited about the prospects.

The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that writers get the impression that editors are emotional bricks—cold and lacking empathy toward a writer’s journey to publication. I remember writers approaching me with much trepidation—some even cried—at my last writers’ conference. Let me assure you that editors are people—not evil book cyborgs. We actually know first-hand what a querying writer goes through—on some level.

In a few weeks, I will be taking some ideas to a team of people who usually say no. Not because that’s their favorite word, but because there are so many variables and combinations of variables to ensuring a successful book. I am going to this meeting knowing this. Then not only that, but also what if my pitch is missing some important element, how will they view me as an editor? Will they think I don’t have my ear to the ground of what’s hot and what’s not in the industry? Will they wonder what the heck have I been doing with my time? Will they question if I am a value to the team or just taking up space? And yet even more, will they tell me so to my face? See, editors face rejection and have insecurities too.

You must understand me a bit more here: I have confidence in my position and who I am within my company. I feel that I can anticipate some of the negative responses and even their constructive feedback and actually prepare in advance for those things. I think that is a key to a good pitch—preparing, yes, but then preparing for objections and offering ways to overcome them.

I know that I’ll be nervous, but I know that I will do a great job. I will do my homework, and I will be solid.

When I receive pitches from writers, it is this confidence and this level of preparation that hooks me. I am human just like they are. I know they may be nervous. I know they may think no is my favorite word. But it’s not.

Side note: I actually try to avoid the word no a lot of the time, because giving some level of hope through redirection helps boost confidence, I think. I am sensitive to that. It’s one of the many great lessons I learned while I was in banking.

What I also know is that writers have every opportunity to beef up their knowledge about the industry, building a platform, the publishers/agents to whom they submit ideas, and how to make their work great. The same goes for me as I go into pitch my ideas before a room full of exec VPs, sales and marketing folk, editorial directors, and department heads. Oh, and by the way, this will be my second time selling the ideas, and if they like the ideas in this next round, I’ll have to sell them many more times.

Now that I think about it, my pitching process is scarier than a writer’s. No, I know it’s all perspective.

But let me just say this to the writers: once you’ve sold an editor or even an agent on your book, we have to then go and sell it a million more times, facing rejection and judgment just like you do. Hence, the reason for us wanting so badly for you to do your best on what you bring to us.

What makes you most nervous about pitching a book idea?