I don’t claim to be a famous (or infamous) publisher or publicist, but I thought I clue you all in on how this publishing stuff works. I may be repeating myself a bit, so bear with me.
First, you send my your manuscript – don’t get all excited, we’re still closed to submissions (other than our ghost story anthology!) until September. And, when the time comes, please do send it through the submissions page – if you send it to another email, it could get lost.
Our interns read your work and send me comments, thoughts, recommendations. Next, I read your manuscript and decide if it will work for us. I may email you and ask you to make some changes or “fix” some things and then resubmit. To be brutally honest, if that happens, I won’t look at again until it comes back to me.
How long does all this take? It depends. It can be within days, but isn’t usually; it can take a few weeks. Sometimes, yes, it takes a few months. Oh, and don’t include, in your initial email, that you have “other offers” and/or “need a quick decision.” That’s rude and pushy, and I won’t look at your ms at all. At all.
Just to put things in perspective, I sent in a manuscript to Harper Voyager last October. Nine months ago. I still don’t have an answer. So keep your pants on. You really don’t need to email me repeatedly.
Why can it take so long? Well, if you know me, or have done any research on RHP at all – and that also means you know better than to use the title “mister” when addressing me – you should also know that reading your submission is not the only thing I do.
As an author, I write books. And promote them. I also do speaking engagements, serve on panels, and handle my own website and social media.
As a bookseller, I sell books – but I also work at the bookstore, plan events, handle advertising and publicity, and am responsible for nearly all the marketing, promotion, accounting, and website.
As a publisher, I plan releases, approve cover design, format the books, list the books, find interviewers and reviewers, and do the final edits. I also answer questions from authors and try to steer them in the right directions for sales and publicity. I place all the orders, restock when needed, contact bookstores and other venues, and do the marketing and promotion as well as the website.
Believe it or not, I’m also a person! I have to eat, occasionally. And, well, drink. Often. I try to exercise, sort of. I like to watch a movie once in while or maybe read a book – not a manuscript, a book. One that I don’t have to proofread or where I have to think about the plot or characters. I have a family, too. A family for whom I cook, clean, run errands, sometimes mow the lawn, and garden.
So, now that you know what I do all day, cut me a little slack if I don’t get to your manuscript within a couple weeks, ‘kay? Thanks.
Where was I? Oh, yes – after our interns read your ms, and I read it, assuming I don’t send it back to you, the next step is thinking. See, any ms that we accept has to have a good story, be well-written – that means you mostly know how to string together sentences and use commas, etc. – AND it has to be something that I think I can sell. If I can’t sell it, I won’t invest in it.
And yes, it’s an investment. I won’t go into a lot of dollar signs here, but if I don’t sell at least – AT LEAST – 300 copies, on average, of your book, I don’t make a dime. Don’t take it personally if your ms is rejected. That could be the reason – and I do try to always give a reason for the rejection – maybe, probably, some other publisher could sell your book. Just not me.
Sometimes authors take my suggestions and re-submit. Sometimes we simply have a back and forth re the requested changes, because I think the book is THAT GOOD.
Next, we talk contract. I email you, state our general terms; if you agree, I send the contract. You sign, send it back, and voila! Now, we can get to work!
I go over the ms. I send it to our editor. I make changes. Our interns look it over. I make more changes. Then I send it to you. In the meantime, I’ve gotten some preliminary cover designs – and our authors are always able to make suggestions or send ideas. We’re flexible here too, our authors definitely have input, but I will make the final decision. And no, I won’t use something you absolutely hate, but I also don’t want to end up on lousybookcovers.com. No way.
I’ll do my best to line up interviews and reviews, but some of that is on you. We aren’t Random Penguin and, even if we were, some of that would still be on you. And you have to be discoverable: Facebook, website, Twitter, Tumblr, SOMEWHERE. You want people to Google your name and find info, not just an old MySpace page from a decade ago.
So your book comes out in print – and E-format. Simultaneously. Mostly. Sometimes there’s a glitch, sometimes other things take precedence. But it’s close. And of course we promote you and your book, and you get your own page on our website – under “upcoming” and “new” – until the next book we publish is ready to go, but your book stays on the site under its own heading.
We’re publishing one book a month this year; next year, two each month. That’s a lot of books, and we keep ALL our books in circulation and promote them. We’re not going to forget about you, that’s for sure!
So there you have it, publishing with RHP. Well, and a bit of a rant, but you can handle that, right? ‘Cause, you know, I’m human. Most days.
Robin, it’s very good to put a realistic description of the process out there. Excellent. GREAT post. “:)