Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ask not what your publisher can do for you...

Having written at some length about what we want, expect, demand and appreciate in publisher I thought it would be worth revisiting the writer's part of the deal. Publishing is a partnership for the writers, but for the publisher it is a very poly-partnership situation especially with epresses which sometimes have over a hundred authors. Things can get very confusing very quickly at their end if you aren't staying in touch and sending them the right things at the right time.

Obviously the writer's main obligation is to produce a good book, be reasonable in communications and make some effort in promotion and marketing. I will take that as read. But from what I overhear from editors there are two main areas that are a constant frustration for them.

1) When approaching a press for the first time follow the submission guidelines. Send only the genre and length they want, take some time to be familiar with their product. No, you don't necessarily have to buy their books, but browsing the catalogue and reading some online reviews is a good start. Read the guidelines, format the work, and then read the guidelines again, pen in hand, and tick off everything specified therein. It will be appreciated.

2) When working on a regular basis with a publisher, meet your deadlines. When disaster strikes and a deadline starts to look unrealistic the earlier you let them know, the better. This allows them to reschedule releases and find someone else to fill the gap. When setting deadlines it is better to be realistic and meet them than hope for the best and let your editor down. Bear in mind that turn-around times for edits are often very tight and ask in advance when they might be sent to avoid problems.

Finally, I mess up, we all (I presume) mess up from time to time. So long as it is only an occasional event that is all part of being human--and this is as true for editors and management as it is for us. So, if your editor and your publisher are doing a good job most of the time, be sure to let them know you appreciate it. :)

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