Friday, April 1, 2011
When the first time author leaps into the publishing pool, they usually have a lot to learn. Sometimes they're quick learners but for many of us...well, we take a little longer. One of the most frequent questions asked in author interviews is "What piece of advice would you give to a new author?"
I think a more important question might be "What would you like to tell the publishers?" This is my wishlist...
1) Please get together and standardize your submission guidelines. One publisher requires a minimum two page synopsis. The next one has a two page maximum for their synopsis requirements. Publisher ABC would like your submission in Times New Roman pt. 12, single spaced. But Publisher XYZ wants it in Calibri pt. 13--with 1.5 line spacing. All of the required formats will ultimately have to be changed when the book is formatted for release. Why not pick some standardized submission guidelines and make life easier for everybody?
2) If you're gonna swap my editors out every time I submit a book like a clean change of underwear, please have the courtesy to a) send me an official notification from the head honcho, and b) include a brief working bio of the new editor. I know I have no control over who edits my book. I do think it's common sense to know something about that individual and their editorial skills and background. How long have they been editing? Who else have they edited?
3) Within the actual publishing house, I wish you would standardize the author's packet. At Publisher ABC, Editor Susie sends me items 1, 5 and 7 to complete and send back to her. Editor Justin sends me items 1, 3 and 6 to complete, etc. Editor Georgia doesn't send me any thing to complete and when I make a delicate inquiry, brusquely informs me authors just screw up the paper work so she filled it all out herself...including such items as my cover request and blurb.
Ask me if I will ever resubmit another book to that publisher.
4) Publishing is a business. This is something we authors hear over and over. So...pay me on time. State a specific pay date. And make sure I receive my royalty payment on that date. That's good business. If I can't count on a specific pay date, I can't plan my own finances. I know it's an odd concept but some of us have families who like to eat and require shelter.
5) Courtesy and good manners are part of good business technique. Please don't swear at me, use foul language, or SCREAM at me in your e-mails. Be professional. Oh, yeah. Use spellcheck. When I receive a letter full of typos and bad grammar from a publishing house it makes me rethink the idea of dealing with them.
5) Finally, if we have discussed some issue and reached an agreement, stick with your word. There used to be an old expression, "His word is his bond." It meant his agreement or promise was iron clad. That's the kind of publisher I want to work with.
In my next post, I'll address things I wish authors knew.