When I opened the letter from my publisher notifying me that they wanted to publish my first novel, I literally leapt up and bounced around the living room in ecstasy. It was the moment I had been waiting for as long as I could remember. That one second when your life long dream comes true. Naturally, ambition and hard work had got me that far, but even so, it felt like the world was smiling at me.
Publishing is an interesting business, and one you cannot possibly comprehend until you join it fully. I knew nothing about the world of publishing when the contract for 'Beneath The Daisies' was signed. I learnt, quickly. I learnt the various stages a book goes through when production commences. I learnt that the proof reader could be wrong, and that the editor was not necessarily going to say, "yes, I love your book, I don't want to change a single thing!" Life is never that straight forward.
Proof readers and editors, agents and graphics teams are all on your side, even if you don't realise it at the time! Everyone is looking for the best result, the final product, the finished book. By the time I started the round again with 'Distant Shadows', I was wiser and the whole thing felt smoother. Knowledge is a wonderful thing!
I tend to think of the production of the printed book like a conveyor belt. First, it is added to the publishers computer system. Let's gloss over the editor stage as this can vary considerably from book to book. Secondly, the proof reader reads through and marks the margins with comments, spellings, suggestions, and generally any thoughts they have whilst reading it. Thirdly, the marked manuscript is sent to the author for agreement/disagreement. This processs is repeated, the first round of changes being implemented, and then the proof reader has another go... When the revised manuscript arrives back for the second time, the author must ensure they are happy with it. This may be the last opportunity to make adjustments to the text within the covers.
The final stage of the production is the book jacket or cover as some people prefer to call it. Once the cover illustration and text is agreed between author and publisher, it goes to print... This is the final and most exciting stage, partly because as the author the job is finally completed, and partly because the release is drawing close.
Life as an author is sometimes a surreal thing. When you receive your personal complimentary copies, it's as if someone has handed you a bar of gold. It really is beyond words, which is never a good thing for an author to admit to!
The publishing industry, like most businesses these days, runs on a cut throat scale. Every book must turn its profit and make its mark on the world, but here, the world of publishing ends and that of promotion, marketing and PR commences. This is an entirely new venture for most authors. By nature, most authors are quiet thinking types. By nature, advertisers and people belonging to the world of promotion, are not. This means that authors have to learn how to market their work, how to promote and advertise it. Let's skip back to the safer domain of publishing for a moment and you'll see what I mean...
A publisher is an animal of the modern business sphere. Every publisher must compete with every other. Every book must compete with others in its genre. Every author must write another book better than the first. It's a tough world but one people can't help but fall in love with. Now there's an unusual ending for a crime writer!