Blogger: Mary Keeley
Whatever route you take to publishing, traditional, Indy, or self-publishing, following a few tips can position you for a successful author-publisher relationship.
I’m going to use the author relationship with a traditional publisher as my case study today because it is still the first choice among most new and mid-list authors. Some of the following tips are also applicable if you publish with an Indy- or self-publisher.
1. Understand your role and your publisher’s role. Reading your contract thoroughly will clarify your role for you. You, the author, are responsible for turning in a complete and clean manuscript by the due date in your contract. Only an extreme family emergency or natural disaster would be an acceptable reason for missing this date. Your signed contract means you agree to all of the contents, which is why your agent reviews every word and diligently negotiates in your best interest. Basically, your responsibility through the rest of the production process is to respond to your publishing team’s needs and requests and to pursue the best ways for you to market and promote your particular book.
Your publisher is responsible for pricing, editing, designing and packaging, timing the release, and distribution of your book. They know what they’re doing and want your book to succeed as much as you do. They will retain the final decision on your book’s cover design in your contract, but we agents always negotiate hard to include wording that grants you the opportunity to offer input. If you strongly disagree with the publisher’s direction, ask your agent to intervene. There are two reasons for this: (1) We are experienced negotiators and will work toward a win-win resolution, and (2) your agent knows how important it is for you to preserve your author relationship with the publisher.
2. Function professionally with your publishing team.
Reminding yourself that yours is one of many books your team members are working on simultaneously will help you to respect their time. Frequent or piecemeal communications will become an irritant. It’s enjoyable to have jovial interaction with your team, but always frame it a professional context. You are first and foremost partners in business. Genuine friendships that develop in the process are icing.
You, the author, have the primary responsibility to market and promote your book. Your marketing and publicity team members will schedule a conference call with you to present the publisher’s plan for marketing your book. Request that your agent be invited to the call too. This is an important meeting that we agents want to attend whenever possible. We look for ways you can synchronize your efforts with their plans to maximize results. Following that meeting, if you send a succinct monthly email to the marketing team highlighting your marketing progress, it will keep them enthusiastic about your book.
The production process is not a good time to take a vacation. If you arrange your schedule so you can be at the disposal of the publisher’s schedule, your editor will love working with you. When you make all your desired changes on the galleys–avoiding a request for changes at page proof stage–and return them by the assigned due date, you’ll confirm your professionalism and heighten your popularity.
3. Be a respecter of professional boundaries. Your publisher is the leader of your book project. The acquisitions editor isn’t responsible to report to you about their publication schedule or decisions in the areas of their responsibility. It’s okay to ask an occasional question about how a decision was made, but do it in a positive way. If the answer doesn’t satisfy your concerns, talk to you agent. If your agent agrees there is a problem, let her contact the publisher on your behalf.
In a climate of fierce competition for diminishing slots, the more you can do to generate sales, the more your team can rely on you to be a enjoyable team member, and the more you confirm your professionalism, the better you position yourself to be offered the next contract.
What didn’t you know about your author role? About your publishing team’s role? Do you have additional tips to add from your own publishing experience—traditional, Indy-, or self-publishing?
Three tips for a happy author-publisher relationship. Click to Tweet.
When the author and publishing team work well together, the end product–the book–benefits. Click to Tweet.