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The Journey of a First Time Author - How Book Publishing Works (Part 4 of 4)

Posted on June 21, 2021 at 12:45 AM


What to Expect When You're Expecting a Book (February 9, 2015)



I got a nice email from the editor at the publishing house who is going to be working on the manuscript. I'll call her Emma. In addition to a nice "hello" she also shared a document that describes the process that the manuscript will go through. I found it to be a nice overview of the different steps that I will share here.



(1) Submission: By the due date, an author submits "a good and clean publishable manuscript, as free from errors as possible." I had to send both a printed copy and electronic copy on disks. "Please note that once you submit the manuscript, we consider your submission 'final'."



(2) Macro Edit: The developmental editor (DE) reviews what I submitted - a check called the "macro edit." The DE's job is to check to see that we have fulfilled all the obligations we had in our contract. The DE is also screening for RBTs - Really Bad Things - like plagiarism, libel and secretly encoded messages that turn people into zombies when read backwards. OK, maybe mostly for just the first two things.



(3) Transmission to Line Editor: If the manuscript passes the Macro edit, the DE sends it to the Line Editor and includes a summary of what was found in Macro Edit in a memo called the "state of the manuscript" memo. (I find the label 'Macro Edit" to be a better description of a bunch of the editing Mike and I already did to get rid of throwaway words like "very" and such.)



(4). Line edit: LIne editor reviews the manuscript for the 5 C's - consistency, clarity, cogency, conciseness, and coherence. Line editing gets into everything from grammar and spelling to organization and factual accuracy. Every time the LE has a question, the author is supposed to get back to the LE within a day. The process is done via emails instead of my sharing a redline copy in Word.



(5) Format and design: Once the line edit is complete, the interior of the book gets designed and formatted - subheads, fonts, design elements, chapter starts, running heads, etc..



(6) Proof and index: A separate proofreader proofreads the files and creates the index.



(7) Author read: I get a copy of the resulting files called the "author read" or "galley proof." It will either be a PDF or a hard copy. I get about 3-5 days to read and verify that to keep on production schedule. The only things I can ask to be changed are type-os, grammatical errors and mistakes. I have to resist making any changes other than that. I also have to double secret pinky swear not to share it with anyone because copyright has not yet been registered..



(8) Final review: Any changes I have are given final OK by the Editorial Director and then it goes off to the printer.



And here I was thinking all the hard work was done...



Hurry Up and Wait (March 12, 2015)



Forty days and forty nights. That is how long it has been since I sent in the final manuscript to the publisher a day ahead of our deadline. The months leading up to that day were like a series of daily sprints. Each day had a goal to chip away at the 50,000 words we were on the hook to produce for the publisher. If I had a 1000 word day, I felt great. Anything less than that, I felt like I fell short. I don't think I have had that clear of a daily goal since I cut grass in a summer job. Since then, the pace has been exactly the opposite. We just wait for the publisher to get back to us and we can't even touch the master copy, as they now own any and all edits. They did a very nice job of explaining that and setting expectations when we submitted the manuscript. Still, it is a weird transition to go from having the book be all consuming to radio silence. I would like to think that our draft was so perfectly designed and worded that the editors are struggling to find a single word to change, and that is what is taking so long. More realistically, I know from the overview of the process that they gave us that this is how it works. Oh well, stay tuned.



Promotion in Motion (April 25, 2015)



The downtime waiting for the heavy editing of the manuscript has been filled by a lot of promotion work in advance of our July 20th release date. We have been quite busy on several fronts.



First, our publisher just informed us that they hired a public relations agent to work with us on the book. The great news about this is the PR agent they got for us is one of the best in the business. I'll call her Peggy. Mike met several PR agents on his last book, and he said Peggy was the PR agent he wished we could get to help us on this book. I'm not sure if it is a coincidence or a small world in the book PR agent space in our niche, but our publisher just told us this week that Peggy was going to be our PR agent. Mike called me as soon as he heard to let us know how lucky we were. She won't be officially on retainer to work with us until we get a bit closer to the book release, but it is great to know she is there.

The second main effort has been around getting the endorsements from people to put on the book jacket and our book website to say the book is worth reading. Early endorsements are a way to prove that an author has the authority to publish a book on the topic. You do that by getting people with the most impressive job title's or other brands that you can to say that. You cajole, you beg. You call in every favor to get people to agree to do it. Then you have to remind, remind, remind. I really, really hate asking my personal friends for professional favors, but this was one time I decided I would have to do it. I never try to sell my consulting and training services to my friends, since I don't want them to be uncomfortable ignoring or turning me down me like they might any other salesperson. But because my book is such a personal experience to me, I decided to make an exception. The publisher gave us an April 15 deadline to get all of our endorsements in, and my last ones -- two of my biggest ones -- got in in the last day or two before that deadline. Now that I look back, I am quite impressed at the list of endorsers Mike and I somehow got for the book. A Harvard Business School professor. A CEO of a household name national retail chain. The head of a HUGE federal government agency. A #1 New York Times best selling author. I could go on, but I will summarize by saying everyone on our list is someone that is a rock star in their field.

The shelves in the Business Leadership aisle at your local Barnes & Noble are full of books. If you pull down five titles, maybe one or two will have one name of an endorser that you will give a silent "Huh - maybe this is worth reading if they endorse it" moment. We have fistfuls of those "Huh" endorsements. I am starting to think I would preorder this book even if I didn't write it.

The other big thing we have been doing to promote the book is a mass reach-out to all the prominent bloggers in the same "leadership of people at work" space as our book is. Mike, being the machine he is, has set up a systematic plan of attack to do so. He has created a spreadsheet listing all the people he has worked with or that have been listed in Top 500 or 100 most trafficked bloggers in the space. (Mike is typically in the top 10-20 of these lists, by the way.) Across all these lists, the spreadsheet now totals 700+ rows. My contribution has been the effort to find the email addresses or other contact information of the folks Mike doesn't already know. That has taken me a few days of searching through hundreds of leadership blog websites looking for contact information. That exercise has been quite interesting on its own to get a sense of the people who have built large followings in the same leadership writing space into which I am about to publish a book. I also got a few good ideas for my own business website.

Now that we have gathered most of the emails, Mike and I have divided up the list and we are starting to reach out to each person asking them if they can help us with our book release by letting us do a guest blog on their site, by interviewing us, or by reviewing our book. So far I am getting maybe 10% of people to reply back with a "congratulations and yes, I would love to help" reply. It is nice to see that there is some camaraderie in this space. We will be replying back and scheduling guest posts and interviews and such for the next week or few. Then we actually have to start creating the content to go on those posts.

Oh well, enough for today. I just got an email from the editor at the publisher who will be doing final edits. She introduced herself and told us it will be pretty intense for the next few weeks leading up to the June 3 printing date. Stay tuned.


Categories: Publishing a Book, Communication Skills, Book Writing / Publishing / Author Process