The Publishing Process
- Author thinks of and begins
to execute salable idea.
- Author fleshes out idea. I
recommend beginning with table of contents or outline.
- Non-fiction author
concentrates on proposal or mini-proposal. Fiction author writes book.
- Research good agents
[Favorite source: Jeff Herman's Book, The Writer's Guide to Book
Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents].
- Write an engaging query.
- Choose your favorite agent or
do a multiple query (that's o.k. as long as you let them know it is a multiple
query). Include a SASE.
- Agent will respond favorably
and request your proposal or manuscript or will respond negatively. Keep
good records of who responds.
- If the agent decides to
represent you, he or she will call you or meet you to make sure there is
some chemistry and explain guidelines. You, too, should discuss your
requirements and expectations.
- Agent sends author contract.
- If necessary, agent advises
author how to revise the proposal and/or sample to make it just right.
Title is reexamined and chosen carefully.
- Let the agent know: Are there
any particular publishers you would like agent to approach? What do you
think the agent should stress or mention in a cover letter to publishers?
- Agent calls publishers on the
- Agent circulates your
- Wait, get some much-deserved
- You're probably going to see
- Talk to your agent to
determine if the rejections all say the same thing; if so, see if you can
adjust proposal or manuscript before submitting further.
- One or two publishers bite
[but they need to take it to editorial board].
- One publisher makes an offer
based on what they think they could sell, but they almost always play
- Agent talks to author.
- If offer is too low--agent
negotiates. Agent confers with author.
- Agent accepts advance and
basic offer on behalf of the author. [See Mark Levine's Negotiating
a Book Contract or similar source.] Standard terms, based on cover
22. 10% to first 5000;
23. 12 1/2% to next 5000;
24. 15% thereafter for hardcover;
25. 7 or 7 1/2% paperback (sometimes escalates higher);
26. 6-8% mass market (10% after 150,000)
[Know the difference between the three kinds of books; some
publishers base royalties on net amounts received and percentages should be
- Agent/author talks to clarify
further contract needs.
- Agent gets boilerplate from
publisher and improves contract terms.
- Author is usually consulted
at this point.
- When agent is happy, contract
is sent to author.
- Author queries agent if
anything not understood.
- Author signs all copies of
contract and sends all to agent who sends all to the publisher [pub
sometimes signs first--pluses and minuses; speedier payment, but harder to
negotiate last minute changes].
- Publisher sends to agent
fully signed contracts and check [usually 1/2 on signing].
- Money clears in bank. Agent
deducts commission and expenses, if any, sends check to author.
- Non-fiction author writes
- Editorial process begins for
fiction author who has already written book.
- While author is
writing/editing, publisher plans for publication [sales department, blads,
comp of cover, catalog, advance sales taken from catalog and at
booksellers' convention, promotion plans].
- Author still writing.
- Author delivers on time.
- Publisher accepts.
- Publisher pays remaining $ on
acceptance [via agent].
- Publisher line edits.
[Sometimes this happens before $ are released.]
- Queries are sent to author.
- Publisher copyedits [perhaps
more queries to author].
- Book is designed and put in
- Author proofreads galleys
[sometimes publisher proofs theirs].
- Publisher creates a horrible
cover [author throws a diplomatic fit and publisher relents].
- Book is put in pages.
- Sometimes publisher solicits
great quotes for book jacket. [Author is sometimes asked to gather quotes;
if not author should offer!]
- Editor reviews and, if
corrections, inputs onto disk.
- Mechanicals/repro or disk to
- Publisher decides, based on
advance sales, advance paid, etc., how many to print.
- Foreign and other subright
sales efforts begin.
- Sometimes, publicity
department sends out galleys or bound galleys to reviewers.
- Author gets books [book
sometimes arrives in stores long before author gets copies; by this time
editor has gone to another publishing house, but author is assigned a
wonderful, new editor who "loves" the book, although she hasn't
read it yet.]
- Publisher sends book to
reviewers, radio stations, newspapers with a press release. [Sometimes
author hires own publicist to supplement publisher's effort.]
- Books arrive in bookstores.
- Author may do some book
signings, radio programs, maybe tv, maybe public speaking, and rarely,
a paid tour.
- Often lots of self-work
generating publicity, such as GO TO BOOKSTORES.
- 6 week window of opportunity.
- Perhaps author does mail
order or sells books at seminars [if the right has been granted in the
- The new editor moves to
another city and leaves publishing.
- 5 years later, author revises
the book or rights revert to author.
- Occasionally a small sale is
made to another publisher, but it's hard to sell a book that has gone op
(out of print).
- Author might consider
updating and recycling contents of old book into a brand new book with a
great new title.
[ Up to my home
Copyright 2009 Sheree Bykofsky
All rights reserved.