I hear an awful lot about self-publishing these days. For some, it works great, like those who have a solid platform and built-in audience, especially if they excel at writing, revising, copyediting, designing covers and lay-out, marketing and all those other things that go along with successful publication. But who among us is talented enough to do all that =and= find time to write?
There was a great op ed piece in The Huffington Post a couple of days ago by Phillip Goldberg on “Who Needs Publishers? We All Do!” I’d like to add my two cents with a list of all the people who contribute to the success of a book and what they do, because it really does take a village.
Agent: Your agent is your champion, your first sounding board for ideas, and your first editor—beyond a critique partner or group. I could do a whole post on what agents do (what any of these people do, actually), but in brief: an agent helps you hone your ideas, keeps abreast of trends, pitches and submits your work, negotiates deals, vets and haggles contracts, exploits subsidiary rights and generally acts as your business manager and go-between with the publisher, especially when the going gets tough.
Editor: Editors are indispensible. They make you look good, catch things that you can’t see, call you on things you’re hoping no one will notice and make suggestions for improvement. They’re also your point people for dealing with the rest of the company and most of the others on this list, though you will have some direct contact, especially with publicity and a few other peeps. At some houses, you might have more than one editor. A different person might do the line edit or continuity edit. Good editors help you achieve your vision rather than impose their own.
Contracts Department: After the editor makes an offer and the author and agent accept, the deal memo is off to the contracts department to draw up the agreement between all parties. It’s now down to the agent and contracts department to iron out any additional bumps in the road and come up with a mutually acceptable document to be signed and abided by.
Managing Editor: A managing editor does a lot of coordinating efforts and trafficking manuscript materials, sending it out to copyeditors, making sure covers in a series are consistant, getting books ready for publication….
Copy Editor: Copyeditors are your last line of defense against typos, misplaced commas, run-on and nonsensical sentences, etc.
Copywriter: You know the teaser copy on the back of paperbacks and inside the cover flap of hardcovers? You know who writes it? Well, in some cases it’s the author or editor, but more often, it’s a copywriter. It’s a special skill. If you’ve ever tried to sum up your own work in a paragraph or two, you’ll appreciate exactly what I mean.
Art director: The art director hires artists and works with cover designers to develop the look of your book.
Artist: Artists are commissioned by publishers to create an original piece for a book cover, though often these days, covers are developed from stock photography manipulated for your enjoyment.
Production Department: Estimates the cost of printing and deals directly with the printers and the nitty-gritty details of actually getting books produced.
Publicity: The publicity department at the publisher sends your work out for reviews, does press releases, sets up tours, pitches you for interviews, and various other things that go into publicizing your work.
Marketing: The marketing department arranges and designs ads and other promotion, which comes out of their budget.
Subrights Department: The subsidiary rights department submits work and negotiates deals for any rights external to print publication rights that are granted to the publisher and not exploited in-house. For example, publishers often hold onto book club rights, and any arrangement for book club publication will be made via the subrights department.
Sales: Sales is in charge of marketing the books to retailers and the ID markets.
Bookstore reps: Individuals who liaise with booksellers within their territories.
Booksellers: How would we live without booksellers? Knowledgeable and enthusiastic booksellers can hand-sell your books, assure prominent placement (although often prime placement is paid for by the publishers), and really help spread the word.
Librarians: How many of your favorite authors have you discovered at your local library, maybe at the suggestion of a helpful librarian?
And, finally, we would be absolutely nowhere without the readers, but in order for the books to get into their hands, it takes a village, a very wonderful community of book people and promoters all working together.