When you think of contracts, do you think of page after page of incomprehensible legal jargon full of traps and pitfalls just waiting to catch you unaware and cheat you out of a fair deal?
Unfortunately, those types of contracts do exist, but a legally binding contract doesn’t have to be that way. At their best, contracts aren’t about protecting two rivals from taking advantage of each other. They’re about facilitating a harmonious relationship between two parties—in this case, between author and editor.
This post is meant as a brief overview. If you’re interested in a deeper dive into editorial contracts, I highly recommend The Paper It’s Written On by Karin Cather and Dick Margulis. It’s a fairly thin volume but full of much better and more in-depth information than I’ve presented here.
So, you’ve written your masterpiece and think you’re ready to start your search for an editor? Great! But there’s a little prep work you can do ahead of time to make that process a little smoother.
When you contact your potential new editor, there are a few things they’ll need to know to get an idea of how best to serve you. You can save yourself and your editor a lot of time and trouble by thinking through and having answers ready for the following questions.
I’ve noticed a trend lately in some of the books I’ve been reading: authors choosing unusual layout and designs for parts of their books.
I’m not saying that everything out of the ordinary is bad. Uncommon design elements and devices can make your work stand out or even enhance the reader’s experience. But unique doesn’t necessarily equal improvement.
Last week, I talked about how you, the author, are ultimately responsible for marketing your book and finding your readers. This week I’m back with a few tips for how to do that.
Let me start by admitting that I’m no expert in this area, but if you’re just starting out as an author, these tips should give you a place to start.
You’ve written, revised, edited, and designed your book. You’ve gotten peer reviews, and everything’s ready and how you want it. But what now? How do you get people to buy and read your book, and just as importantly, who’s in charge of seeing that happen?
As painful as it may be to hear, you are ultimately in charge of your marketing. That can sound like a daunting statement, considering you probably didn’t become an author to sell books. You had a message and a calling to share it with the world. Surely, other people are responsible for getting it out there?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
If you’re going the traditional-publishing route, this question probably won’t come up. The publisher arranges all of the steps of the publishing process, and your book will go through the proofreading process.
However, if you’re self-publishing, you’re probably looking for ways to cut out any unnecessary costs. A professional copyeditor has already done a thorough cleanup of your manuscript, and the book may have even gone through a designer. So, is another step really necessary?
Writing can often be a solitary practice. Even if you’re collaborating with another author, it’s probably just the two of you who see the manuscript until you finish with the first or second draft.
Eventually, though, you’ll need to get others involved in the process, from editors and proofreaders to beta readers and peer reviewers. Feedback from readers is essential to making your manuscript into something that will appeal to readers.
However, not all feedback is useful. Have you ever handed a friend or family member something you wrote, only to receive “Looks good!” or “It could use a little work” in return? That is not helpful feedback.
But often nonprofessional reviewers don’t know how to provide you with useful criticism and suggestions. So, the task of guiding them falls to you. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most from reviewers and readers.
With each passing year, our world is gradually becoming more and more concerned about respecting the voices and experiences of people and groups who, historically, haven’t had a say in how and if they are represented to the general public. This may have been due to race, religion, gender, cultural background, or physical and mental disabilities, among other reasons.
We’ll put aside the argument of political correctness for the moment. The fact is that writers have a responsibility to their readers to represent the world in the most honest and genuine way possible.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t include elements and characters from other people groups. That wouldn’t be true to the diverse world we live in. However, it’s impossible for any one person to be an expert on all peoples and groups, especially if they’re not a part of that group.
Sometimes, we need to bring in an expert. That’s where sensitivity readers come in.
It used to be, if you wanted your book published, you either had to go through an established publishing house or spend stacks of cash at a vanity press and still not see your book get into the hands of more than a few readers.
As we advance farther and farther into the digital age, though, self-publishing becomes an increasingly viable option, but it’s still not ideal for everyone.
So, which one is best for you? There are pros and cons to both options. Here are a few points to help you decide which one best fits your circumstances and your book.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.