Thursday, February 18, 2010

it takes a village

I used to think writing a book was a solitary journey.  And I still believe that, because no matter how large your writing/support group may be, in the end it's still just you putting down your own words.  Often alone in the dark of the night, scribbling or typing away while the rest of the family lies sound asleep.

But one thing I've never fully realized is how it takes a village to publish a book.  The moment I signed with AmazonEncore, my editor immediately pushed a button.  A team of experts immediately descended upon my work, each member specifically assigned to a niche role.  And what a team they've been.  I've heard horror stories from other authors who've experienced road blocks, fading interest, unreturned phone calls or emails, horrible title changes, and vomit-inducing cover designs they had no say in.  And these were with top-name publishing houses.  Not so with AmazonEncore.  They've been professional to the T, yet personable as Oprah between takes.

There's my copy editor, for example.  Not only tightened my language but also found some subtle time discrepancies and factual inconsistencies.  Here's one small example: in one scene, I described how two characters (who work in a food court) went to bed early on a particular night.  My copy editor jumped in: food courts typically close at 9 p.m. on weekends, so after clean-up and the commute home, the two characters would not have been home soon enough to turn in so early.  That's a great catch.  Not a big deal to the overall plot and it was an easy fix, but it gave me a lot of assurance that my book was being so thoroughly vetted for the big time.

Then there's the cover design.  Let me just say this: there are certain milestones in an author's career, and getting the cover design to your debut novel is one of them.  A heart-thumping one.  In my case, my editor sent me not just one, but three design concepts.  Two of them blew me away.  There's a story in how I ended up with the final cover (and I'll blog about it one day), but let me just say this: AmazonEncore pulled me in early on and made sure that I was an integral part of that process.  They respected my input ("please, no faux-Chinese fonts and dragons") and the design team did an incredible job.  The cover is totally amazing; not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also captures the ambiance of the novel perfectly.

The marketing team has been likewise top-notch.  The publicity aspect of this business is one I know next to nothing about.  Left to me, I'd probably craft a signboard and walk up and down Main Street in a costume.  But my publicists - seasoned experts with great contacts - have been great in explaining the process, working behind the scenes, and doing an awesome job in getting word of this novel out there.  ARCs are now landing in the hands of media bigwigs all around the country.  There's a lot of work for me as well, but at least I'm working with direction and not like a headless chicken.  And pre-publication buzz is building by the week, enough to keep me awake at night.  So exciting.

I could go on, easily.  There are so many more people to mention, I'm realizing that this will probably become a blog series.  Is that advisable, to have a blog series on one topic?  I don't know.  I'll have to ask Sarah or Terry or Julie or . . .

Because one thing I do know: it takes a village.


  1. During a three year homeschooling stint, I saw just how logically the mind of your copy editor works. As a 13 year old her own writing led from one thot comfortably into the next and the next. I taught her nothing. There was an innate ability at work. Yes, she'd been read to plenty as a youngster, but she'd completely absorbed and understood good writing and could produce it.

    Your copy editor's mother :)

  2. I'm so glad you have a great team guiding you through this process, and a support base of friends and family. I can't wait to experience all that! (Well, I have the latter part already...) Congrats!