Blogger: Rachel Kent (Mary Keeley and I have switched blog days, so I’ll be posting on Friday now. Look for Mary’s posts on Wednesday.)
When I first started working at Books & Such as an intern back in 2005, I knew close to nothing about the publishing process. I was able to quickly catch on to quite a bit because Janet allowed me to work closely with her. (Janet is amazing to work with and I’m blessed!) I am very confident now but am thankful that I can turn to Janet at any time if I do have questions.
1) It’s amazing to me how long everything takes in the publishing world. Producing a book–from writing to print–can take years.
- Writing a book takes time. (Though I’m shocked with how quickly some authors write!)
- Agents take forever to read projects when authors submit them.
- An editor takes forever to get around to reading a project when the agent sends it in.
- The contract process can occasionally take months.
- It usually takes around 1-2 years before a contracted book is printed–even if the book was written before contract.
A lot of this delay is because everyone is so busy and there are lots of submissions being handled all the time. I’ve also seen books rushed through the publishing process in a matter of months, but it’s much more common for a book to be in the works for a very long time before it arrives on the bookstore shelf.
2) I never knew that authors wrote books on contract. Before I started working in the publishing industry I believed that all of those books I was reading were written before the publishing houses agreed to publish them. I was very naive about how contracting worked. Learning that books could be contracted before they were written did help to explain why some subsequent books weren’t as good as the first book in the series though. I think that writing books on contract can sometimes damage the quality of a published story. Something else that goes along with this surprise–I never knew that authors are pretty much expected to write more than one book. Being a one-book-wonder is extremely rare.
3) The last big surprise I had when I entered the publishing world was this: Good writing doesn’t always mean strong sales figures. Sometimes the books that are filled with errors and plot mishaps are the books that sell the best for one reason or another. And a book that wins awards for it’s beauty and clarity can sell very few copies. It is certainly not fair, but it’s the way publishing goes more frequently than I would have ever thought possible.
Were any of these a surprise to you when you first started seeking publication and became involved in the world of publishing?
And what was the biggest surprise for you about publishing?
Three things that surprised Lit. Agent @rachellkent about publishing. Click to tweet.
What surprised you the most when you first became involved in the world of publishing? Click to tweet.
Literary Agent Rachel Kent shares 3 things that surprised her about the publishing process. Click to tweet.