Bayview's Bellow


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  1. #1

    Bayview's Bellow

    No, not really a bellow. But "Ralph's Rant" got me in an alliterative state of mind!

    And I've got a book coming out this month but it's coming from a small publisher, so I thought it might be interesting to have two threads going at once, one from a self-publishing perspective and one from a working-with-a-publisher perspective.

    So, to catch up with what's already been done...

    I wrote the book. But actually, now that I'm looking at old e-mails, I contacted the publisher for this book well before having finished it. It's the same publisher I started out with (Dreamspinner), and I've sent quite a few books to them since then (it looks like 42, but that's just counting translations and audiobooks, etc. So probably only a dozen or so distinct manuscripts?). I really enjoyed working with them, but at some point I got concerned about having so many eggs in one basket. Small publishers have trouble staying in business and it can really suck to have your books tied up with one that's failing. So I diversified, started sending my books elsewhere... and then several of THOSE publishers failed, while Dreamspinner is still ticking along. So joke's on me for that one.

    Anyway, Dreamspinner HAS changed its focus a little and I contacted them to check if they'd be interested in a story that doesn't quite fit in their current requirements. I was never a super-star author with them, but I had solid sales and a good relationship, and they responded positively to me sending them more stuff, even if it wasn't in keeping with their current model. So it was nice to have at least that tentative agreement going forward.

    All that happened in May 2017. I sent them the finished MS in September 2017 (I'd been working on a different novel over the summer to give me some "eyes off" time on the one I intended for them) and they sent back a contract. They offered a $1K advance, but I declined it because small advances are really just a bookkeeping annoyance and my bookkeeping is sketchy enough without the extra challenges.

    Their contract is pretty similar to what it was the last time I worked with them, but I still read it carefully, then signed it and sent it back. All done electronically, of course.

    And that was it for a while...

  2. #2
    In October, the forms began!

    There's always a cover request form with small publishers - the author adds various information into a template that is sent to the cover artist. What the character(s) look like, what the general plot/tone of the book is, what the author's dream cover would look like - that sort of thing. Also some info for the blurb, general marketing, etc.

    Then nothing until... January. That's when the editing process began. Using the MS Word "Track Changes" function, the editor writes notes and suggests changes to my MS, asks questions, etc. I either make the required changes or write back explaining why I don't want them made. I've worked with two small presses that were a bit weird about this - they seemed to feel that their changes were orders rather than suggestions. I never sent another MS to either publisher and they are both now out of business. Coincidence? Maybe...

    Anyway, Dreamspinner has always been very pleasant about editing and it feels like a very collaborative process. It starts with the main editor for my book with content-level changes, then goes to line edits, then copy edits/proof reading. Pretty standard. (I've noticed that there's been a bit of a change in editor responses since I started writing - they now almost always begin their editorial letters with a bit about how much they enjoyed reading the book, etc. I'm sure it's just BS, but a bit of sugar DOES help the medicine go down!)

    Along the same time I was also getting drafts from the cover artist and the person working on the blurb. i'm totally non-visual and never have much to say about the cover art, but I appreciate having the chance to give feedback. They sent three or four different mock ups and I can pick which one I like best, or ask for a combination of elements from different ones (the models from A, the font from B, or whatever).

    Final galley for review in March - the last chance to make any changes, although things have already been formatted and laid out by this point, so they aren't really looking for any large-scale changes. Catching typos = good, wanting to add a few lines = bad.

    And now the book is scheduled for release in late June.

    I have to go to work now (stupid day job) but I'll come back and post about promo stuff leading up the book release. Fun?

  3. #3
    So, building up to the release:

    The publisher has sent me an "ad pack" - a bunch of different graphics based around the cover of my novel. I don't usually spend money on advertising (no sign that it works, plus don't hire a dog/publisher and then bark/advertise yourself) but I might spend a few bucks on Amazon/Facebook ads? If I get around to it.

    The publisher also set up a bunch of "guest blogging" opportunities and a "cover reveal". These cover reveals have become a big thing in the last few years. As a reader I don't pay much attention to them, but maybe some readers do? I don't know. I'm not sure about the guest blogging, either - but there are a few blogs I follow as a reader and I might buy a book based on something I read there, so it's worth a try. Now I just need to come up with topics... some of the blogs are fine with just excerpts or giveaways, so that simplifies things a little.

    Other than that? My publishing process is pretty much done at this point. A lot of authors do a hell of a lot more, but I'm just not comfortable with promotion, at all. I'm not going to print up "swag" and have a "street team" or any of that. I respect the authors who have that kind of energy, but I'm definitely not one of them. I've always reassured myself with the rationale that the best promo for a book is the next book, so I concentrate on writing.

    This publisher is a small e-first publisher, but I've published with Big Five and not had significantly more promo support. The most valuable marketing from Berkley, really, was being included in the catalogue they send around to bookstores each month. Right there in living colour, a half page devoted to my book... the page directly opposite was a full-page ad for Nora Roberts' latest! That was enough to get my book into bookstores, at least, which isn't too likely when working with a smaller publisher. Although Dreamspinner is good about taking print books to conferences and festivals and whatever, so there's potential for SOME print sales. But the bulk will be e-books.

    It's been quite a while since I had a book with this publisher. I'm curious to see how things go.

  4. #4
    1) How did I miss this thread? It is really cool content to contrast Ralph's Rant.
    2) Which book was this for?

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