Friday, January 2, 2015

Authors' Misconceptions of Being Published Before the Book Deal

Maria V. Synder
Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads
I have to admit up front that I didn’t have any big misconceptions about the business of publishing because I’d done my research and had a pretty good idea how things worked. However (yes, there is always a however ;>), there were a few surprises along the way. My first surprise was that my publisher kept my title of my book, Poison Study. All my research had led me to believe that publishers change all the titles. They don’t change them all and I’ve been able to pick my titles for all my books (well...with a few tweaks here and there).

Another surprise was that other people in the publishing house like the sales staff, marketing, and publicity had all read my book before it was printed. I know that warrants a “du’h,” but I’d believed only my editor and the copy editor would read it. So when I went to Book Expo in New York city for the first time, I was unprepared for the outpouring of comments (good ones!) from everyone. My editor looked at me like I was nuts and said, “What do you think we did with your book?” Ah... I didn’t.

Last surprise (for this article – believe me not the last surprise of my publishing career!), that the book buyer from Barnes & Noble has sway in decisions like cover art. When presented with two shades of green for my book, Magic Study, the book buyer picked the tealish shade. I liked the more emerald green. But guess which cover my publisher went with? Yup – the teal! (Yes, I know the book buyer has lots of experience in which covers sell books – and a bad cover can kill a good book, but...I can pout...can’t I?)

Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Study Series. She has written eleven outstanding novels and has been contracted for four more from Harlequin Books. SCENT OF MAGIC (Healer Book 2), is now available on Amazon.

Jessica Bell

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter
When I signed with my publisher I thought that was it. I had a publisher for life. They will want to publish every book I write, my career will grow, my readers will increase, and I'll have a lifelong relationship with them. Never ever again will I have to send out those dreaded query letters.

Not so.  Publishing is a business, not a family. (If you're lucky to find a publisher that is both, hold on tight.)

Only six months after my debut, String Bridge, was published, my publisher closed down. All the hard work, the rewrites, the editing, the marketing. Down. The. Drain. 

I had to start all over again...

Looking on the bright side, now I know I've got the goods, and I feel confident enough to self-publish my work until I find another publisher or agent. 

But never for one minute, think that signing a contract with a publisher means the hard work is over. It just gets harder and harder. And you need to have the strength and passion to work as hard and as long as the waves are going to take you. The waves are rough and high. But surfing is so much fun, don't you think? 

Jessica Bell is an award winning poet, the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the hostess of the Homeric Writer's Retreat & Workshop on the Isle of Ithaca, Greece. Her latest novella, THE BOOK, is available now on Amazon. 

Lydia Sharp
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
By the time Twin Sense was published I had been writing and pursuing publication for years. I watched debut authors as they transitioned from pre-published to post-published and noticed their observations through every stage. So when it was my turn, I thought I knew everything that was headed my way. I was wrong.

My release date changed once and my editorial deadline changed twice. First pass edits pretty much crushed my soul. I'd heard people say this before but didn't realize just how hard it is to read those notes (notes on every page of my ms), and not know how to implement the necessary changes without ruining the whole story. And all of this on an ever-shortening deadline. 

It was a learning, and toughening, experience that I feel privileged to have had because it means an editor believed in my story and in my skills as a writer to take a chance on me, to spend time and effort reading my story multiple times and figure out how to make it better. That is something I will never take for granted.

Lydia Sharp is an author of young adult contemporary, fantasy, and romance. She has been dedicated to helping fiction writers improve their storytelling skills through her award winning blog. Her novella, TWIN SENSE, is now available on Amazon. Her fantasy romance, Mismatched, releases in May 2013, also from Musa Publishing. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.

Jadie Jones
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Before signing with a publisher, I thought the editing process went something like this: editor reads manuscript, tweaks words here or there and fixes typos, and then sends it off to be printed. So when I received my first email from my editor, and she said: “I like your main character, you can keep her as the main character,” I literally read the sentence four or five times, pinched myself, and then read it again. A single thought circled my brain like a shark: If she can change the main character…. what else can she do?!

Turns out, a lot. But here is where the misconception carried on. I thought she would reign down from her laptop in the sky, frowning at my adverbs and weak spots. 

But it wasn’t like that at all. At last, on this island of writing, I had a fellow castaway – someone who was just as obsessed with Moonlit as I was. We did so much to enhance the story, subtle changes that pulled the noose of urgency a little tighter, and sweeping changes, like eliminating characters who were simply in the way."

Jadie Jones' debut novel, MOONLIT, from Wido Publishing, hits stores April 16th. It's available now for pre-order on Amazon.

If you would like to have your book reviewed, please contact me here.


  1. Excellent post, great to see all the angles of publishing through a publishing house. Was nice to put a face to Maria V. Snyder's name, we've a few of her gorgeous books on the shelf... and teal is a magical colour.
    I'm also keen to grab Lydia Sharp's 'Twin Sense', what a cute cover!

    Blog looks great, but please consider turning off word verification... it's just mean to me.

  2. I'm with a small publisher, Great Plains Teen Books, and while I have an amazing editor, I was shocked at how much marketing I had to do. Social media is now a big part of selling books-something I knew little about when my first book came out. It's funny that I now have to spend as much time on marketing as I do on writing!

  3. I'm with a mid-sized and growing publisher, Little Pickle Press, and the editing process for me was fast, with few changes, however I'm with Colleen. I've had to do a lot of marketing, which I didn't quite expect. It does take a way from writing time, but it also makes me feel like I'm a big part of making my book a success. Pros and cons, I suppose.

  4. OH! I hate that I missed being a part of this. I love reading everyone's "surprises." I had the no-title-change like Maria, too (oh, no! I hoped they'd help me think of a better one! ;o) And poor Jessica has had to watch publishers go out of business twice... :P

    For me, the biggest one was how isolated and cut off I felt in the traditional world. I thought having an editor, etc., would mean having a "team." That was not my experience at all. They took my book, it didn't need any changes, and that was it. The end.

    Ironically, I've had WAY more creative support, brainstorming partners, critique partners, cover discussions, marketing pow-wows, you name it, as an "independent" author than when I was part of a traditional "team." So there you go!

    Great topic, Rebekah! :o) <3

  5. Great topic! I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed the techie stuff, like learning e-book formatting. I felt so empowered when I looked at my manuscript on Kindle for the first time and all the funky symbols rendered perfectly, and my table of contents links actually worked.

    I still struggle with the marketing piece--especially how to find one's "tribe"--folks who will resonate with your story. Were I do have a second chance at a first time, I'd have gotten on Twitter many years ago rather than six weeks before release. That was a hugely missed opportunity.

  6. Wow, I learned some stuff here. I enjoyed Maria Snyder's Inside Out and Outside In books. She has so many novels, so it's interesting to know what she learned early on. Poor Jessica. I know the right agent and publisher are out there for her.

  7. Wow, Jessica Bell, the *exact* same thing happened to me! My first book was picked up by a small publisher and released a few years ago and then, just as my second was gearing up for release, they closed down! I thought it was the end of the world, but I too have chosen to self publish for now until I find a new "home" again with a new publisher. It's a bit of a relief I must say to read that you had the same experience.

    1. All we can do is keep our chins up, hey? Life a bitch, but we've gotta keep doing what we love, otherwise the bitch might try to smile. LOL