Monday, November 28, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Author Publicity

So, once your book's lifecycle is pretty much finished and it's hit bookstore shelves, your work is done, right? Wrong!

Whether you like it or not (and I'll be honest, there are some serious pros and cons), a book's success is almost always an uphill battle. Though you've already heard about the great publicity work that's done before a book is published and the marketing that starts pre-publication and continues for (in most cases) up to a year after, the author's expected to pull a lot of the weight in terms of networking, social media marketing, and hosting and attending events. Learn all about it with Publishing Trendsetter and Adam Gidwitz here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Distribution

There's one last stage in the lifecycle of the book: distribution. Distributors work to stay on top of trends and developments in the industry, and provide support for sales teams while also reaching out to consumer markets. Wondering what that means? Jenn McMurray of Greenleaf Book Group explains in Publishing Trendsetter's latest post here.

That's it, pals! Stay tuned for more content, including responses to the overwhelmingly awesome comments on this post on cover trends, next week!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: The Book Buyer

How does a book make it from your publisher to bookstore shelves? Who decides between the new bestseller and a stellar debut author? Are reps still relevant to the industry in the digital age? And what are these nasty returns you hear so much about?

Every bookstore has a buyer, and his or her role is vital to the industry and ridiculously fascinating. Learn all about it with Jenn Northington and Stephanie Anderson of WORD in Publishing Trendsetter's post here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Sales

Sales might not be your favorite part of the lifecycle of the book (especially if you, like me, like to indulge your artistic side), but it may well be the most important; without sales, the industry couldn't exist! In the latest Lifecycle post from Publishing Trendsetter, Tamarra Henry from Macmillan explains how the sales department functions, the tools salespeople use, and how a sales pitch actually goes down. You can read it here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Publicity

Publicists are the face of books, authors, and publishing companies, and they are constantly working to project the best possible image of all three. They brainstorm pitches, put their creativity into press releases and media kits, and perfect the art of follow-up. For those as creative as they are business-savvy, publicity is the perfect outlet.

Learn all about it from Jihan Antoine of Hachette's Grand Central Publishing with Publishing Trendsetter here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Marketing

The publishing industry might not come with the multi-million-dollar budgets of the film and electronics industries, but that's no reason that authors shouldn't all feel like celebrities.

Nina Lassam of Wattpad explains how marketers work with authors to build their audience, and why their role is so important in Publishing Trendsetter's latest Lifecycle of a Book post here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Design

Love your cover? Hate it? Blame it on the designer. Well... sort of.

To learn all about the cover designer's role in a book's lifecycle, and about just how many people and factors affect a book's final look, check out Publishing Trendsetter's interview with Regina Roff of (my very own!) Bloomsbury & Walker Books for Young Readers here.

And folks, I work with Regina just about every day and can vouch for her awesomeness. So, just saying, you might want to check out her video.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Production

As vital as they are to the overall publishing process, production employees are often the unsung heroes of the industry. Give credit where credit's due; learn about how production fits into the overall lifecycle of a book with Ashley Horna of W.W. Norton and Publishing Trendsetter by clicking here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: Editorial

Ah, editorial. It's arguably the most coveted, glamorous role in the publishing industry, and it's the one that you, as an author, will likely have the most frequent contact with once your book has been contracted by a publishing company. You know about all the dotting of i's and the crossing of t's, but in reality editors spend very little time on that part of the process. In fact, most editors I know say they spend only about 20% of their working time on the actual editing of manuscripts.

To learn what else keeps them busy and involved in the publishing process, click here to meet Latoya Smith of Grand Central Publishing in the latest Lifecycle of a Book post from Publishing Trendsetter.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: The Literary Agent

The agent, like the writer, is in the lucky position of getting to see the whole publishing process from start to finish. Joy Azmitia is a junior agent at Russell & Volkening Literary Agency; learn all about the agent's role in the Lifecycle of a Book from her in this video from Publishing Trendsetter!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book: The Writer

The first (and in some ways most important) player in a book's lifecycle is that of its creator: the writer. This one may be closest to home for my Writer Friends here, but you can still learn a lot from someone who's been through the submission process and gotten an agent!

Meet Adam Gidwitz, Writer, on Publishing Trendsetter by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Book

Okay, so you've written your book—now what? The system that carries a book from your hard drive to a bookstore's shelf is so complex and multifaceted that, even if you're a regular scholar of the publishing blog world, there's a good chance you still don't know every intricacy of the process. Fortunately, the many awesome bloggers of Publishing Trendsetter have teamed up to give you a comprehensive look at the process from start to finish.

Trendsetter has gone behind the scenes to talk to tons of young industry professionals about what they do and how it contributes to a book's success. Over the next few weeks, they'll explore one department a day, and I'll link their posts here so you can share the wealth.

Puzzled by publicity? Dumbfounded by distribution? Or just wondering how it all fits together? Then look no further for answers than the grid below—and our daily posts!

(click and then choose "Show Original" to enlarge)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Risky Business: Forces of Nature, Acts of God, and Other Reasons a Book Can Flop

The weekend’s unwelcome snowstorm (seriously, nature, how am I supposed to traipse about dressed as a steampunk masquerader if you insist upon sleeting everywhere?!) reminded me of a rule that’s universal, not just to publishing, but to any industry: the “sometimes sh*t happens” rule.

Like the folks in any business, the editors, agents, and marketers of the publishing world are extremely cautious. From a book’s acquisition to its editorial process to its cover design to its marketing campaign, few decisions are made without the input and approval of multiple departments.

Before a book is acquired, its potential sales are mapped out by its editors and then scrutinized by an acquisitions team. The house considers whether the manuscript is on a salable topic, whether the writing style suits the audience that the publishing house typically serves, how much editing and marketing will be required to make the book a success, and what the author’s and agent’s monetary expectations will be—not just for an advance, but also for an investment in terms of advertising and co-op dollars, travel costs for author book tours or conference attendance, and miscellaneous costs like unique photo shoots for the book cover or a redesign of the author’s website. Countless profit-and-loss statements are generated to prove that the project’s returns will be worth the investment. The manuscript is compared to projects being acquired by other houses to determine whether it’s likely to be what readers are looking for in two years (when it’s released as a book)—will it fit with a trend that seems to be gaining momentum? Will it be unique enough to stand out from the other books being released at the same time? Does it fulfill a need or an interest that readers in two years are likely to have?

That’s not to say that publishing houses never take risks, bring on a project out of love even though it might not make a good deal of money, or take on a project that requires a large up-front investment. I’ve seen all of those things happen when an acquisitions team gets really excited about a project.

But, though it’s important in all cases, in those cases it’s especially vital that the book’s production and marketing are carefully planned for success. The editor might see more of a chance of success for the book if it could be read by middle schoolers than by high schoolers, and might work with the author to simplify his or her writing to suit that market. The marketing team will help guide the editorial and production departments to release the book at the right time for relevant holiday promotions, back-to-school reading or summer reading lists, or to be released before a potential competitor hits shelves. Publicists carefully strategize about when and where to schedule tour stops and media campaigns, and marketers carefully plan to release buzz-builders like book trailers, chapter excerpts, games and more at the right time to build excitement just before the book’s release. Few elements of a book’s creation are simply left to fate.

But (without getting too philosophical on you), aren’t we all subject to forces outside of our control? Sometimes, despite all that good planning, sh*t just happens.

Sometimes a topic that looks like it will become trendy never quite gets off the ground. Sometimes a competitive title’s release date switches and there’s nothing your publisher can do to rush your book to come out first. Sometimes a major retailer decides not to stock a book, or to shelve it in a section that doesn’t really fit its content or intended audience. Sometimes a launch party is totally overshadowed by a citywide event that the publisher didn’t get wind of in time to reschedule, and no one comes. Sometimes a newspaper article gets pushed back or canceled to make room for breaking news. Sometimes an expensive online ad runs at a time when a major internet provider is suffering outages, and a far-smaller-than-intended audience actually sees it. And sometimes everything goes right with the book’s acquisition, editing, and marketing and publicity, but for whatever reason the book just doesn’t work.

Risk is a fact of life in this industry, and as frustrating as snow in October can be, there’s little to be done about it but hit the drawing board again and come up with a plan to counter potential losses. A first-rate publishing professional possesses not only an uncanny knack for predicting trends and outcomes and spotting the factors that usually lead to success, but also the flexibility to completely overhaul plans that don’t seem to be working as expected.

What does that mean for writers? To some extent it means that there’s no guarantee of success, which may be disheartening to hear. But because it’s understood that sh*t happens, it also means that you might get a second chance at success if your first, second, or even thirtieth book is a flop. Publishers and agents understand that some forces are outside your control, and with solid planning and the ability to learn from their mistakes, they might be able to engineer a past failure to become tomorrow’s bestseller.

How about you—has the unexpected ever gotten in the way of your career plans? How do you plan for success despite the risks? What do you do when your plans go awry?