Saturday, August 27, 2016
Some Truths About Book Publishing
One of the biggest misconceptions you can have when writing a book is that if it’s accepted by a publisher, then it must be good—it must be perfect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While you conceive the idea, then flesh it out, and finally give it form, a book isn’t complete until it runs through the gauntlet of copy and content editors.
When a publisher accepts a book, it’s just the first step. To market a book, it must be molded so that it fits into the marketplace. Most writers become myopic when writing their books. They don’t see beyond its content while publishers have a much broader view.
Realize that your editor is a professional at making at helping authors put their books into the best possible shape. So you must learn to be open and nondefensive.
Most changes editors request are minor. You think about it and get to it, You’ve been so close to your book that you perhaps didn’t realize that a bit of dialogue sounded flat and unrealistic or that there was a small hole in the plot. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, you may have inadvertently switched the facts or left one out that made the subsequent text not make sense. You shouldn’t feel bad since these things happen to the best of writers. A book is a large project, so it’s only natural that a few things will slip by.
But what happens when your editor asks you to make a major change? Eliminating a major character, putting in a new one, drastically revamping the ending with the resultant alterations to the rest of your story to accommodate it—these are big. If your editor asks for a major change and after thinking it over you agree, you’ve got some work ahead of you. No matter how you feel about it, it’ll make you a better writer.
Just the way a book is a series of chapters, any major change is simply a bunch of minor ones. Approach it that way. Make a list of what you have to do, then do it. If you feel stymied or have serious reservations about the suggested changes, talk it over with your editor. The more open you are with your editor, the better..
But remember that in the end, it’s your book. Give your editor a concrete reason for refusing to make a specific changes. Offer alternatives. Stand your ground but also listen to what your editor has to say. He or she knows the marketplace.
Besides the editor assigned to work with you on your book by the publisher, you’ll also have to deal with copy editors. The great thing about copy editing is seeing your book through the eyes of someone fresh to it. Your copy editor will challenge any grammar and mechanics you’ve missed and suggest small improvements that never would have occurred to you. Copy editors also catch all those embarrassing mistakes.Since you’ve been working on this big project for so long, you’re bound to make a few.
Today, all book editing is done electronically. You send your manuscript into the publisher, and the copy editor sends it back to you digitally marked. All publishers use Microsoft Word to edit, so no matter what word processing program you use to write the book, you must save the text as a Word document before sending it to the publisher. Word features a complete editing subroutine that enables the copy editor to not only mark mistakes and other items but recommend ways to fix them.
Nearly all first-time authors get bogged down thinking that they control their book. For some reason, many think that they’ll have a role in choosing the cover of their book. As stated above, the publisher’s job is to get a book ready for the marketplace and he or she knows what type of cover will work best. Your publisher trusts this job to experts in graphic design. This doesn’t mean every cover will be perfect for every book, but it does mean you should relax and concentrate on what’s inside.
Another mistake beginning authors make is putting the chicken before the proverbial egg. They worry more about whether their book will be reviewed by the New York Times than they do about its content.
In fact, it’s rare for a first-timer to be reviewed in The New York Times—or any other major publication for that matter—so don’t get your hopes up. The only way a top reviewer will even consider your book is if it concerns a controversial topic. A few good low-profile reviews will help your book in the long run. But one really bad top review could kill it.