Monday, July 13, 2009

Publishing Process Part 1.75

So your manuscript has arrived in the mail, been logged and funneled to the appropriate editor, and maybe even sat through its first editorial meeting. What happens next?

In all likelyhood, it sits around through another editorial meeting or two while said editor hems and haws and checks the sales figures on your last book, and checks out similar books on the market and whether they're any good. There might be some chat as to whether or not there's room for your book on the already-tight publication schedule ("should we push back 'Feline Spies of the Dark Ages' to 11B and push this one through early?") and whether there are already too many books like yours in existence.

There will be phone calls. Sometimes, lots of phone calls. Editor A will call Marketing Person B over at the west coast office and ask if she thinks a book like this would sell. Marketing Person B will leave a message for The Guy at Borders and ask if he thinks he'd buy it for the store (sadly, his opinion matters a lot.) The Guy at Borders will fail to return her call, and the process will bog down even more. Your ms might be mentioned in a teleconference and opinions briefly cackled over the static.

Then there might be another meeting or two. If there are other publishers considering your book, and the editors at this one aren't totally sold, they'll sit back and wait for the other guys to make an offer. If this publisher wants your book, someone who's good with numbers will figure out how much advance $ to offer you.

Then, when they are good and ready, like a giant sloth in the sunshine, the publisher will slowly, slowly shift in the branches and make an offer on your book.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

But wait! You're not out of the woods yet. An offer is not a book deal. There's no deal until that contract comes in the mail, you sign it, they sign it, and it comes back to you again. And even then there might be a disaster like the publisher going bankrupt, or you coming down with meningitis, or the publisher deciding your completed manuscript is unacceptable. Nothing is truly frabjous until you're standing in a book store, pulling a copy of your beautifully-rendered book off the shelf. And before we get to that point, there are still several steps left to go in the Process.

Last publishing tip of the day, gleaned from an author-editor conversation INTERN overheard this morning:

When your uptight landlord asks what your book is about, "memoir of psychosis" is probably not what he wants to hear.

Sadly true!


  1. Ahhhh, so that is what's happened to my manuscript. Good to know.

    Intern should one of those offers descend from the branches and land at my feet, I'm sending you chocolates just for the morale boost I get after reading your posts.

    wordver - rerthym: rhythm 2.0

  2. Publishing is almost as fast as herding worms!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  3. Late night blog-hopping landed me here, and I'm quite happy to say that it did. I'm so excited to have stumbled upon such a funny, informative blog. I'm about to subscribe. But you don't know me so please don't think that I'm creepy!

  4. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes info. It’s interesting to hear about all the ‘little’ things that go on between a sign of hope and the signing of the contract.

    Great blog!

    Lori A. May

  5. Okay, if the personalized query advice is 50 smacks and the full on proposal is a hundred, then I think I should at least send you, what fifteen for this great piece of sage advice: even if you get an offer, it's not done until you've received it twice--is that a reasonable summation?

    I think that's worth serious money, because really, who knew?

    Thanks again for the giggles along with the info.

  6. INTERN say: Pam: the process is actually not done until you're holding the book in your hand, you haven't been sued during a 1-year period, you've earned out your advance, the royalty check is in the mail, and you've received at least 1 (one) piece of hand-written fan mail from a nice old lady in Florida :)