Be A Team Player
You, as an author, have a responsibility to observe the care and feeding of your team. You know who those people are—the editor, proofreader, cover artist, and anyone else involved in the production of your book before it’s made available for sale.
If you’re wondering exactly what goes into this care and feeding, think about all the time you put into writing your book. Along the way, you utilized beta readers or a critique group to iron out the kinks, search for dangling plot points, and make sure every sentence flowed from one to another. The pride you felt once your book made it through the final pass of pre-submission checks needs to continue, once you’re offered a contract.
One of the first people you’ll have contact with is the editor-in-chief with your new publisher. That is the person who initially decided your book was worthy of a contract. The individual who is marshalling the group of people who will be your team during the pre-publication process. The first thing to remember is that the editor-in-chief doesn’t only handle your book but in all likelihood, many, many other books. They are a master juggler, a multi-tasker extraordinaire, and a person who has the task of making sure your book shines when it’s published. This individual often works long hours with his or her many authors, ensuring each one thinks they have the undivided attention of their editor-in-chief while also attending to the rest of each team they set up.
A cover artist has the unenviable job of turning your dream of an ideal cover into reality. And in this case, reality often falls short of the dream. Many authors today still believe that a book cover today is created with either an illustrator hand drawing the cover described, or models being used in exotic locales with a professional photographer working to get the perfect shot. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In many instances, the cover artist is working with a stock photo that may or may not be altered slightly and adding the title, author’s name along with a series title if necessary and a tagline.
The disappointment many authors feel when seeing the finished product has often translated into a heated rant being sent to the editor-in-chief by the author, demanding that the cover artist be fired and a new cover made immediately. Of course, this time whoever is assigned the job had better get everything right and they had better do it the way the author wants it done.
Back up there for a minute. You, the author, opted to submit your book to a publisher. You signed the contract. I’m sure you read and understood every word of that contact before signing. Most publishers’ contracts aren’t difficult to understand at all. So, if you did all this, you will know if your publisher allows you to have a second cover made, or even several covers made, until you are satisfied. And don’t for one minute think that you will enjoy final say in that cover. Cover art, like editing and proofreading, is being paid for by the publisher. They are taking a chance on you, the author—a chance that your book will make back everything that they’re paying out in order to turn a profit.
Next is your editor, whose care and feeding will result in a fine product for you to offer your many fans once it’s published. Ranting at your editor can and often has resulted in a less than satisfactory product. The relationship between an editor and an author must be friendly but also one of an individual who can fix the problems within a book and another individual who realizes that although the editor-in-chief loved the book when the contract was offered, they also knew it would need polishing before it was ready to make available to the public.
Finally, you have your proofreader. Authors rarely have much contact with their proofreader. A proofreader goes through the book one last time before the editor-in-chief readies it for upload. Your proofreader will fix missing punctuation. They will make sure no words are misspelled or missing. They might even tweak the formatting, to ensure that your book looks and is fabulous.
All this time, you are waiting patiently (allegedly) or not so patiently (in many instances) for your book to be ready for publication. Some authors feel the need to constantly email their editor-in-chief, demanding to know what’s taking so long. They’ve lost sight of the fact that the team behind the scenes isn’t involved in one book at a time, but many.
What you, the author, can do while you’re going through this process is remember that your team works hard for you, but they are mostly working hard for your publisher. A well turned out book benefits everyone, and that means the team must work together.
Be a great team member—care and feed those people working to make your book fabulous.