Last night we met with a local group of writers and spent an hour answering their questions. We love meeting authors and hearing their concerns. To our surprise, much of what they wanted to know concerned the basic publishing process and how things work. By what magic do publishers turn manuscripts into books? There must be other aspiring authors who have the same questions, so here’s the publishing process in a nutshell:
- First, the publisher receives either a manuscript or a book proposal. What is a book proposal, you ask? In many cases, you don’t have to actually write the book up front—you send publishers a proposal for the book. This is a win/win situation. While writing the proposal you focus on creating an overview of the book, how you’ll sell it, who will buy it, and how your
book will measure up against the competition.
- If the publisher likes your work, a publishing contract is signed. The publisher may sign a contract with you based on a proposal or a finished manuscript. This contract will contain a due date for your work.
- Once a publisher receives your manuscript, their work begins. Editing is the first step. For large publishers this process can take months because your work will be in line with many others. For smaller publishers like NorLightsPress, editing takes from three to six weeks. You and the editor will go back and forth over the text, but the publisher has the final word on how things will be.
- Meanwhile, you and the publisher will be working on cover design. You will have input, but not every publisher has time to work with your ideas. Some do; some don’t.
- If your book contains photographs the publisher will need high resolution images for the printer. You’ll be expected to provide these. You may use stock photos.
- After editing, the book is formatted into a PDF file. This is the pre-printing stage and you’ll have a chance to read through the manuscript again. Now you’ll see the pages as they will appear in the book.
- When last minute changes are completed, the publisher submits a PDF file to the printer to generate proof copies. You and the publisher review the proof copy for errors.
- At last! The proof copy is approved and the publisher can order books. Soon your book goes “live” on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sellers.
- Your book file is formatted for eBooks and submitted to those sites for sale.
- Are you marketing? Hopefully you stayed busy creating a marketing platform and sending out feelers.
NOW, you can start book signings, interviews, blogs, and conference speeches. Never leave home without books! This is when your work truly begins. Holding your first book is an amazing thing. Sharing it with the world can be daunting. Have a plan, and work your plan!
About Sammie Justesen
Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.
She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.
A recent review of Dialogue for Writers
What I left with after reading Sammie’s book is a brain swimming with ideas she has generously shared based on her years of experience in all aspects of the industry. She shows us, not just tells us, with style, humor and an easy, comfortable voice. Her examples bring the points to life. Sammie indeed practices what she preaches, and shares with us as reader and writer a fun to read and handy compilation based on experience and insight. –Gin Getz, author of The Color of the Wild andThe Last of the Living Blue