Getting Closer to a Real Book

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I’ve written before about publishing a book and how amazing it feels to get a response to a query from a publisher, a request for a complete manuscript, and an author contract.

There are even more joys to come, big things that make your book more and more real and smaller things that make you grin. Here are some of mine.

Being assigned an editor. Another person is now actually working on your book, helping to make it into something real and better.

Working with said editor. I’ve been an editor myself and know what it is like. It can be a game like chess by mail (or email, in this case). Your editor – in my case Aaron Smith from Eliezer Tristan Publishing – sends you a tracked manuscript with suggested changes and you accept them or not.

For my book, the great majority of editorial changes were right on, particularly in the matter of punctuation. I have a tendency to overuse commas, parens, and dashes. These are things that feel like my natural voice in writing but aren’t necessary or even correct. Aaron also helped me see where my writing needed to be fleshed out and where links to other sites were superfluous. Only one round of back-and-forth was needed before we both were satisfied.

Getting an ISBN number and barcode. If you’ve ever looked at the back of a real book, one you’ve bought at a store, you’ll notice the ISBN number and the barcode. The barcode, of course, allows someone to know the price and pay for the book. The ISBN number is what tells you you’re got a real book. Here’s an explanation from the International ISBN Agency: “An ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.” A real book!

The cover process. I understand that with large book publishers you simply take what you are given. My small, indie publisher, however, sent me a copy of what they came up with and allowed me to comment on it. It’s nice to be asked. They even gave me a do-over and a new designer when I didn’t like the first version.

The galleys. Or in this case, a copy of the documents laid out in spreads, like the open pages of the book it will be. I reminded the publisher that I wanted a dedication to my husband, suggested a way to make the table of contents a bit clearer, and pointed out when one essay title was in the wrong font. I don’t know if there will be final galleys after this, but if there are, I will read them thoroughly and promptly.

The bound books. I am not yet up to the point of this ultimate thrill, but I anticipate it with great incipient glee. When the box of 25 books arrives on my doorstep, I will, after my husband picks it up and brings it inside, rip it open, make high-pitched sounds of delight, and insist that many photos be taken of me posing with the books and in my Eliezer Tristan Publishing t-shirt and signing a book for Dan.

Then I will get to decide who gets an autographed copy and who has to wait for it to come to a bookstore near them.

The launch party. This is still theoretical at the moment, as I can’t afford to throw an actual party. Perhaps a local bookstore or library will let me do a reading and I can call that a launch party. Or maybe my friend Tom, who does online concerts, can coach me through an online launch.

The t-shirt. Completely optional. But my husband has said that he will take an image of the cover and have it printed on a t-shirt for us both to wear. Maybe we can call it advertising and take it off our taxes.

Then I can get to the really important stuff – promoting my book and selling it, which the publishers will also be doing. It takes a real book to be able to do that.

4 thoughts on “Getting Closer to a Real Book

  1. Wow!!!!! This is amazing! I gotta catch up on this, Janet – I saw you over at Kitt’s blog and I popped on over here to ask you a favor. I’m SO proud of you & I’m going to start following your publishing journey even though I’m a little late in the game. When the time comes, I’ll gladly buy your book, tweet about it, & review it wherever you want me to review it! Congrats! 💕


  2. p.s. Libraries are great for doing your launch party because they will (usually) do a wonderful job of marketing the event throughout the system and even with local media sometimes, i.e. the local newspaper. I chose the library for my first talk. Also, I donated 10% of my book sales/refreshment proeeds to the branch’s Friends of the Library group and they helped out in a bunch of ways. I asked a local bakery for donated treats in exchange of promoting their kind donation.

    In my second talk I chose a much bigger venue (It was too big, LOL!) and because they required insurance, I partnered with our local NAMI chapter who provided that. I gave NAMI Santa Cruz 10% book sales/refreshement proceeds.


  3. My husband agrees that libraries rock, especially when you partner with your branch’s Friends of the Library. (A group I used to work for!) Craig has given over 60 presentations about his book “Quest for Flight—John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West” and his best talks have been at libraries.

    However, he had his first real “dud” happen just yesterday in Silicon Valley. The audience didn’t get any of his jokes and no one bought books. He has no regrets, though – he genuinely enjoys giving talks about his book!

    p.s.I noticed you wrote about putting the image of your book cover on T-shirts – I did that for Craig’s book! “Quest for Flight” has a beautiful cover and I gave it to him a surprise for his 53rd birthday. I love your idea!


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