The book is written. Many sleepless nights have gone into the masterpiece, many readers have given their feedback, and a release date has been set. Now the entirely agonizing part of the entire process, publication.
The fun (fun used almost sarcastically here) is doing hours of research to ensure I don’t miss a single integral process in the entire bout of publishing. Had I managed to have an agent most, if not all, of the process would be covered. I could sit back and wait for requests for verification on page proofs, story flow, accept editor’s feedback and only tweak the novel minutely upon the agents request. Currently I have submitted myself to a flow of multiple projects at one time in the light of one major project, my publication. There are many major points that I have to ensure to hit, all of which could make or break my books chances at success. I took the liberty at compiling a brief list of these chores which I will undoubtedly have to accomplish.
Get the Book Edited
One item that had gone through without major attention to detail with my past projects. Though I had a publisher to take care of these things, it was at best; sad. Realizing that not only is my grammar terrible, but punctuation fails almost to a fault. There would be no possible way for me to go through the entire contents of two-hundred fifty pages and catch all the most glaring mistakes let alone the little technicalities. With that I have researched many editors, some charging upwards of $1,000 for a 90,000 word novel! I was lucky to find one who would only charge a minimal fee! Now I just have to scrape the barrel to get even that for her.
A most vital and important step in the process of rolling out a book. This involves knowing this book is in it’s final stages and in near pristine condition before sending it off for Magazines, Newspapers, and Reviewers to determine my fate. If two or more magazines who published a review were not favorable, chances are the book would sink before it even had a chance. Believing in my work this is something I am more than willing to take on. But with that are more interesting things.
Any novice to publishing would easily look this over. They believe all they have to do is convert a word document into a pdf and voila! That assumption is terribly wrong and will undoubtedly turn a tale of amazing talent and artistry into a slushpile inhabitant. Simply opening a book to the first page or two will tell any publishing industry insider whether it had a professional do the work. No worries, most typesetting jobs will only set you back roughly $800 (or maybe $5 a page).
Advanced Reader Copies
These little buggers are a ton of fun! Almost all magazines and reviewers have different terms and submission requirements for these copies. Some say it must be a mock up with ARC written on the back cover with a fact page including word count, page count, ISBN, distribution centers, publisher information. While others ask it be an in-tact book autographed by the author (They usually assure you that the book won’t be sold as it’s against their policy), and that this is a courtesy to someone willing to take time out of their lives to review your work (Fair, I say). So for the ARC’s not only is it best to have the book in the best condition it can be in (I would hope a few edits have already been done, typesetting somewhat apparent, and cover design set), but it should be sent out to the reviewer 4-6 months prior to the month of publication.
So now the Pre-publication work is done (somewhat) as the publisher, now on to Publicist!
Find Shelf Space
This is the main hurdle, and many of the items listed following this all help to gain that much needed shelf space. The point being most books have a month AT BEST to sell. If not, they are returned. And don’t think a book store will stock your book without a book return policy in place. This is only the mom and pop stores! Trying to get into B&N and Borders is something similar to a battle between David and Goliath.
Research and set up Radio Interviews
Having a target market helps to get this part in play, but still nothing can quell the magnitude of listing the hundreds of talk radio shows out there for the contact. Best part, I’m pushing my own book! Nothing worse than saying “Hi! Have you heard of the amazing new book written by none other than me!!!!” Something is just off about it. I like to stick with emails, but I have a feeling if I had a good pitch letter drawn up I might be able to call some stations and cement time blocks rather than sending electronic mail into the abyss of the internet. Even when I do find a station, I have to find an angle relative to the listeners and style of show they have set up to ensure I not only sound informed, but also don’t kill the pitch of my book by sounding like a babbling idiot.
Another extremely important aspect of the process. Drawing up the words that will help to sell the book while informing of any upcoming events. As in, have my events planned out well in advance, and make sure I keep the facts straight for the press-release. Nothing worse than attempting to fix a spelling error in a press release once it’s already been sent to the printer! It’s also gotta pop, no sense in writing an awesome book if the Press-Release is gonna drool.
Research and Pitch Newspapers and Magazines
For post publication reviews or opportunities at an interview. The research alone is killer, add to it the drone work of writing a pitch letter to them why I would be so totally awesome for their interview is tricky. Anyone can toot their own horn, or you could pay someone to do it for you. Looks like this starving artist is gonna have to toot his own horn without making it seem that way.
So these are just some of the fun things I get to do wearing all the hats. Hopefully if it’s done right, this will be the last time I have to worry about all of this, and can just focus on my new novels, which I have about four new ones started already. I have to get busy with them, not all of this! But here’s to learning.
Thanks for reading!
Caleb A. Mertz
There are only a few things that come across my mind while I’m sitting in front of my computer. Many of them involve my plot to take over the world through literature. Another involves me owning an empire of five different restaurants, and the last is just getting my latest novel represented. All of these things are grandiose things that take time and serious effort along with a strong willed back bone, yet discouragement shows up yet again.
The past year of my life has been guarded by work, and more work. I’ve blogged about this before. Then I ask myself, “why, a whole year later, am I still making no sales and in no better situation than I was then?” BOOM Discouraged! I sit at this damn computer and research all day long. I read other’s blogs, information about marketing, get caught up in crappy sites that try downloading viruses, and by the end of the day there’s little to show for the hours I “wasted” away.
I sit back in what some may call a wake of disappointment, or a self depreciating stare, or maybe even a slight trickling into the bottomless depths of depression. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to get out and do something. I had to go and see friends, listen to music, smell the fresh air, be surrounded by family, drink a glass of wine with my brother, drink another with my sister-in-law, then a third by myself. I kicked off my socks, rank with the smell of the gym from earlier in the day, and dawned a fresh pair before I made way to my car. I drove, in rush hour traffic, along 22, nearly falling asleep before the split decisions that I used to love came into play.
I diverged from the highway and sped along little side roads. Every curve yielding a surprise I hoped wouldn’t be fatal. My windows were down and the sun was nearly gone by the time I had found Nazareth. Here I slowly careened past moms house to see no one was home. I then breezed past my brother’s house to see that there wasn’t a single light on. Then without skipping a beat I drove through the old roads that I used to triumph over. Roads where memories were made of my friends and I driving in my old pontiac without a care in the world. The breezed pattered past my ears while I inhaled the cigarette that had a refreshed taste to it out here in the sticks. I thought about stopping at some of my old stops, but continued to drive past them.
In my driving I had found what I thought had been lost. I once drove to clear my mind, but with the rising gas prices back in ’08 I had to stop. Now today I drove and felt good about everything around me. I watched stars pass my window and the mysterious moving light, which in years before I would have thought to be a UFO. I came home as somebody I thought I had lost only a few hours prior. So, thank you, car ride. You helped me overcome my worst adversary, discouragement.
Over the past several months there has been one thing that has been looming around every corner. It isn’t lifethreatening, ugly, or even vehement. I have known it to be there and yet I continue to pursue marketing and booking events that I feel may forward my development and acknowledgment of authorship. With the book signings in the past now, there are other events that have to be tended to. It is impossible to attend two events and expect to make sales.
Hours have been devoted to searching for upcoming literary events. What about the other outlets out there? Many other things sit out there waiting to be discovered in order to be used to their greatest potential. Writing for Examiner.com, blogging, and updating my website are just a few of the other things that I have been doing. Then of course there is the business aspect of things including trying to register an actual business name with the state of Pennsylvania, tracking sales and marketing expenses, and so on and so forth.
Yet, and yet there is one thing that has not been getting done. I have written several query letters, cover letters, and pitch letters for publishers. I have organized the envelopes, acquired addresses, and contacted certain contacts within the publishing field. As part of my other blog, “Be part of something big!” you see that there are even promotional materials made for the release of my new book. What about writing it?
What about writing it?
Writer’s blog has been a horrible thing for me. Then again, I wonder if it’s even writer’s block. What if it’s just my own unsettled thoughts and energy? The words are before me. I have them on the screen where I am to add more of a story. I have it printed out and clipped. There are questions for each chapter for those that are going to read the manuscript before it goes to the editor. Where are the next words?
I finally took a hiatus from all of the marketing, promotion, and writing. Three weeks I didn’t really think of anything regarding my book. Then finally, six beers in, the next part of the story came so quickly I had to rapidly find a pen to
get the thoughts onto paper. I am only taking a few minutes now in between loads of laundry to write in my blog. I plan on devoting the grand chunk of the day to writing out the story.
Life can pass us all too quickly. I just said the other day that I was going to be 80 before I knew it. The motivational speaker in all of us tries to get us to seize the day and make the most out of it. Unfortunately we all too often associate getting the most out of a day with the ammount of work we can say we did. I have found that sometimes slowing down and just taking a day or week to yourself can make the most progress in your professional and personal life.
Caleb A. Mertz