Since some of you are writers as well as readers, I thought I’d write occasionally on the business end of being published. Here’s what’s been going on lately:
It’s been three months since The Taker, my first novel, was published in the US. For the most part, the hubbub has died down: requests for interviews have died down, and reviews have tapered off. The final revision of the next book in the trilogy, The Reckoning, has been turned in to the publisher and I won’t see it again until the first pass pages—all typeset and looking like they will in the final product—are sent to me in late January. Which means I should have my days free to work on the third book, The Descent.
And I am. In fact, I started writing it during the lull between when I turned in the first version of The Reckoning to my editor and when I got her comments back. So I’m returning to a work-in-progress, not an entirely blank sheet (thankfully). I’m learning that a writer’s job is far more than just writing the book.
There’s still business to attend to, for the publication of the trade paperback version of The Taker and the hardcover of The Reckoning. The publishing business works months and months in advance, and it seems there’s a never-ending succession of pieces to review and approve. For a trade paperback, there’s what’s known as front and back matter to approve.
Front matter consists of praise generated from the hardcover release, blurbs and quotes from reviews meant to entice a reader into buying the book. Back matter are the bonus materials: the Reading Group Guide and a teaser chapter from the next book. In the case of ebook version of The Taker, a chapter from The Reckoning was included, but as it turns out a different chapter has been chosen as the teaser for the trade paperback, so there’s a chance for readers to see quite a bit of the next book.
You get to review and approve front and back matter twice: first in softcopy, and then later in typeset pages.
Before this stage, there was jacket copy to approve, which gets used in one form or another in advance materials, too, such as the publisher’s catalog, and advertisements. As the author, you get a chance to review this, too and I’d argue that next to the book itself, this is the single most important piece for the author to pay attention to, as it’s what most people will use—whether the book buyer for a store or a reader—to decide whether to take a chance on your book.
And while all this wordsmithing is going on, there’s the cover art to consider. But this is so important that I’ll discuss it in a separate post.