Are you curious about the ins and outs of the publishing world? Want to know our secrets and tips of the trade? Well, look no further, because here are 15 little known facts about publishing:
- 300,000 books are published in the USA alone each year. But only 30% of Americans read 1-5 books a year. Believe us when we tell you, it’s harder to convince people to pick up a book than you might think.
- Many famous books didn’t actually kick off until years after their publication. Even Emily Dickinson didn’t become famous until after she died. And Dr Seuss’ original manuscript of “Mulberry Street” was rejected by 27 publishers before one of his classmates bought it; if that isn’t a lesson in perseverance then we don’t know what is!
- Do not assume that everyone in the publishing house has read your book. The PR and Accounts department have no need to read every book that comes through, nor do they have the time.
- If you’re not already famous, do not expect an immediate reaction to your book. It’s rare that there will be a queue out the door at your first book signing – would you go to an unknown author’s book signing?
- On that note, locally, you’re likely known – so invite your friends and family! If the signing goes well, other stores are likely to hear about it, and they might just offer you another event.
- Your book is not automatically going to be stocked in every store. UK publishers alone release over 20 titles every hour. Now think about how much shelf space is available in bookstores – they won’t all fit! A store will only stock your book if there is a demand for it.
- Be patient! This is not an overnight process. It takes a while, with house styling, editing, proofing, cover design and then marketing.
- Publishers ARE your friends! We want your book to sell as well, and we really aren’t trying to stand in your way and stop it from being successful. Treat us as friends, not foes.
- Publishers go home at the end of the day, just like everyone else. If you don’t get a reply to your email sent at 11pm on a Friday night, there is a reason. Keep opening hours in mind – and if you don’t know them, then google it! Also, if you don’t get a reply to your email within an hour, please don’t forward it every five minutes. You will get a response, just give us time.
- Allow for human error. We try our best to be perfect, but we’re human too. Almost all books published have at least one mistake; even the first Harry Potter had a spelling error in the first edition.
- Read your contract…repeatedly! Your contract holds more answers than you think. Before you ask your agent or publisher what percentage of royalties you get, remember that the answer is in your top drawer.
- Don’t rush. Authors love to be out as fast as possible, but we promise that this will hinder, rather than help. If you’re not 100% happy with your proofs, do NOT sign them; talk to us and explain the problem! We’re not mind readers and if you wanted another line in your acknowledgements, tell us! We’re not going anywhere, and neither is your audience.
- A picture’s worth a thousand words. Covers are important as it’s the first impression a reader gets of your book. Before you start creating your own Sistine Chapel for the front cover, remember that less is more. Do some research and take a look at some best sellers out there – how did they design their front cover? It doesn’t have to describe every major plot point in your book! Keep it simple, with a bold title and an eye-catching image, rather than bombard your reader with a loud cover.
- Remember how many authors there are – give us a hand! Of course, your publisher is going to do whatever they can to help you succeed, but you can help too! We cannot stress this enough – contribute to the marketing of your own book! Even going to your local bookshop with a press release in hand is a good start. Online bloggers can be found via google, and newspapers want to help, so get in touch! If you’ve written a children’s book, school loves local authors to come in for an event; if it’s a history novel, contact museums relevant to the subject. And apply to festivals to set up events. Two hands are better than one!
- And finally…get that book online! While we’re on the subject, always remember the power of the internet. We’re living in an online world, and the list of bloggers/reviewers grows every day. That little blog might seem obscure to you, but keep in mind that a reviewer can make – or break – a book’s sales. And they love to get new work. So, drop them an email and make an enquiry – you never know what a difference they can make!
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