Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monday Mailbag: Wednesday Edition

Continuing on from yesterday's post: real questions. Real people. Judge Judy.

SM Schmidt writes: What exactly does the big craze behind the holiday season mean for a debut author?

Probably not much, unless you're lucky enough to score some co-op. If so, you may see a reasonable spike in sales (the holiday season is the industry's busiest). If not, you might see a small increase in sales, but I wouldn't count on it.

e writes: I'd love to learn about everything that happens "after the sale": covers, interior layout, galleys, ARCs, blurbs. And, how the sales team view all of this. What gets you excited about a book, excited enough to really push it to buyers?

I'll have to write a separate series of posts on this. Be on the lookout in the weeks to come.

Anonymous @ 1:05 writes: How do some books become movies while others become tv shows while still others become graphic novels?... What about deadlines? Let's say the book sells to editors on January 1st. How long does it take for it to get to the bookshelves and how long does the author have to write book 2 (if it's a series). Can deadlines be pushed back?... How are book tour schedules decided?

1.) This really depends on how the film/TV rights are optioned and sold, so, short answer: case-by-case basis. You could push to have your novel released as a graphic novel if your heart were set on it, but don't count on anything happening on that front if you're a debut author. Plus, if you want to write a graphic novel, why not cut out the middle man and just... write a graphic novel?
2.) Case-by-case basis. Usually it's a year or so between acquisition and publication. Deadlines can be pushed back for any number of reasons. Or not.
3.) Book tours: case-by-case basis. It's something you'd work out with your publicist through your agent.

She Wrote writes: What about bringing along your own illustrator?
What if your mss has maps? Do you have to use the publisher's artist for that or can you use your own?

How about the use of real towns/cities and agencies. My series is all centered on a protagonist who is employed in one particular law enforcement agency. Are there any particular "no-no's" I have to watch out for?

It really depends on your publisher whether you can bring your own illustrator, and this may be a question better answered by a children's book editor like Editorial Anonymous. As for real towns/agencies—no problems that I know of.

Terry writes: I would especially like to hear more about series.

I'll do some research and get you a post on that sometime this holiday season. In the meantime: I get the impression you're more or less right that mysteries tend to be sold as series. The most recent dozen or so mysteries that I remember doing kits for were generally part of two-book series, minimum.

Anonymous @ 3:48 writes: I'd love to know how authors decide on which publisher to sign with. Do editors ever approach writers or just wait for an agent to approach them. Also how do smaller publishers make themselves known to agents and sign books?

Totally on a case-by-case basis, although factors include royalty rates, advances, terms of contract, sub rights issues, publisher/editor reputation, and so forth. Editors have been known to approach authors, but I wouldn't hold your breath. As for smaller publishers: general schmoozing and conference/convention-attending. It's all about connections.

lauren writes: I'd like to know about publishers' logic behind acquiring and publishing books that are given very little marketing push. You know: ARCs, page in the catalog, and little else. And what happens to those books and their authors when said books get little to no sell-in at the chains?... Why do publishers continue to spend money packing their lists with books that disappear? And is there anything an aspiring author can do to avoid being in that situation in the future?

2.) A slow and painful death.
3.) I have no idea. I think the lists overlap too much as it is.
4.) Probably not.

Anonymous @ 6:44 writes: They say the time to get yourself into viral marketing is before your book is sold. Give me some examples of what you'd suggest. Blog? Facebook? Website?

"They" are correct, and all of the above are excellent ideas. Check out this post for more details.

Since several of you asked about auctions and series, I'll do my best to address those sooner rather than later. Tomorrow: NaNoWriMo, and why (despite its good intentions) it gives me (and the publishing industry as a whole) a migraine!


  1. We hear a lot about cover art, cover design, and how the author is rarely right. But this is the first time I've seen someone ask about interior art and that's a good question. Where do those maps come from in all those fantasy books? Does the author hire a cartographer and provide the art? Does the house give him a grant to commission the work? Or does the house itself use a freelance cartographer to do so?

  2. This is one of your best posts, ever! And funny too. It's been a terribly busy day, so I'm glad I got to read it finally.

    Thanks for planning a separate post on series. I appreciate that.

    I'm also interested in your take on the NaNoWriMo. A migraine, no less. OK, I'm up for it.

  3. *le gasp* my question was answered! Thanks so much Eric!!

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