‘SoulWorks’ is safely with the copyeditor! Well, I say safely … whoever it is, they have my ‘stylesheet’ saying how I want the finished manuscript to look. Guess I just have to trust them to heed my wishes. The biggest single choice was ‘American’ versus ‘English’ spelling. I tend to use American style writing for words like organize, specialize … but English for words like colour. In addition, there are a few words that are created for my work. Well, I suppose the technical term is ‘made up’. These include grandam instead of grandmother, it has more respectful connotations for a wise older woman. Let’s see what the copyeditor’s spellchecker makes of that!
If a publisher asks you for money, should you pay? This is one of the big questions for an aspiring author. Basically, publishing today is an industry under pressure. The margins are tiny and your book is likely to cost more to produce than it makes. Something like nine books out of ten sell less than a hundred copies. So unless you already have a national TV show, you’re a bad bet for any publisher.
When my first book was accepted by John Hunt, I was asked for a ‘contribution’ for copyediting and cover design. I’d already had my manuscript edited but it was only a few hundred pounds so I bit the bullet. My second book had production covered, but I did most of the marketing. By now I’ve got a track record and they trust me to produce the goods. My third book (in press) has what feels like a ‘proper’ contract. I won’t make money until it hits the bestseller lists, but that’s not the point of publishing
So what I’d say is, hold in there. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are: until your book has an audience, you’re a risk for any publisher. You need to understand this and work hard at building your public profile. Don’t pay large sums to get your book out. You can self-publish cheaply on Amazon or Lulu, and it’s considered quite respectable these days. But if a good publisher like mine asks for a small contribution, don’t balk: if they are prepared to take a gamble on you, it’s only fair that you should share the risk.
It’s all very well getting your manuscript accepted. Publishers know very well that authors are perfectionist creatures. They know that we’re perfectly capable of agonizing for days over a misplaced colon. That’s why they give you an upload date. A date when you have to decide that your book is finished. No more changes, no more afterthoughts. Off it goes for copyediting and *pagination* (that’s why you can’t keep adding things: it changes the layout of the book). Anyway, by the end you’ll just be going around in spirals. So I BEAT MY UPLOAD DATE and got it in early! Whoo hooo!
‘SoulWorks’ my latest book is with the publishers, so I sent out a newsletter. The Mailchimp service is perfect for this sort of thing – easy to format with lots of colours and pictures that make reading more fun. Even better, it gives you a report on how the mail out has been received: how many opens, how many clicks on links – and who has unsubscribed!! Luckily there are just a couple of returns from addresses which need updating, so no-one gets crossed off my coffee list this time around. In fact I’ve had some really lovely replies from old friends I hadn’t heard of for a while. So this bit of the pre-publication publicity process is interesting and fun!
So, how do you get ready to publish a new book? The first step is to start building your reader base. I’m lucky to have had great feedback from my first two books. I’ve already got a mailling list: MailChimp are wonderful and they don’t charge for the sort of basic stuff I want to do. Today I put together a quick template with the news about ‘SoulWorks’, my latest book, and some links and pictures that might interest everyone. It’s like putting together a party bag – I like to give out plenty of stuff!
My latest book has been accepted by John Hunt Publishing! Looking forwards very much to working with them over the next few months. It’s so exciting to have a new book come out to join the first two. Follow this blog for more details!