I've had a number of questions asked me this past week about the publishing world, so I thought I'd put them in a post in case there are other newbie authors or readers interested.
1) Does Love Inspired accept unagented authors? Did you start with an agent?
Because I live overseas where it’s hard to do some of the aspects of the business, even with the Internet, I use an agent, but there are still a number of publishers, like Love Inspired/Steeple Hill, who will accept manuscripts from unagented authors. If you are writing a certain genre and targeting a particular publisher, you can usually find out their writer’s guidelines by going to their website. It’s crucial to follow these guidelines precisely. Here’s the link for Love Inspired Suspense, for example if you would like to check it out.
2) About how many books do they print of a first time author?
This all depends on the publisher. Book clubs, like Heartsong Presents and Steeple Hill, will normally have a higher print run for a first time author.
3) Did you start with an editor of your own and then did Love Inspired connect you with an in-house editor?
All major houses have their own editors, both in house and freelance. Through the editing process, there will be a number of separate edits done, and then a final chance for the author to read over the manuscript before it goes to print.
Starting last year, because of my busy schedule and full time writing commitments, I started hiring a freelance editor on my own to polish all my manuscripts before I send them to my publisher. Editing is not my strength, but I still want to turn in the best possible manuscript that I can. I also have critique partners who are fantastic in catching a lot of mistakes and for brainstorming with. After they have gone through my story, the editor I hire then can read over the entire manuscript to ensure there are no storyline issues, etc. If you are looking for an wonderful editor who can polish your manuscript and charges reasonable prices, you can check out her website here.
4) Should I join an organization like RWA or wait until I sell a book? Is this where many of my questions would be answered?
If you are serious about writing, I would definitely join a writing organization like RWA (Romance Writers of America) or ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). The resources available from ACFW in particular (I know more about them because I am a member) are phenomenal. There are online resources and classes, yearly conferences, critique groups, and chapter organizations you can join on a local level. It’s well worth the yearly membership fee.
5.) Does Zondervan set the deadlines or do you have some say?
Typically an editor, when wanting to contract a new book, will come to me and ask me if I can get it done in X amount of time. If there did happen to be a problem on my end, my agent could negotiate a longer deadline. When Zondervan offered me a contract in September, the book was already written. My editor then gave me until this March 1st to make a number of changes we discussed in detail that would make the story (set in Africa) more marketable for an American audience. Each publisher is different, but they gave me about five months to make the necessary changes for them.
After this, the book will go through a number of different edits, including content edits and line edits that will take place over the next year until the book is released in March 2010. So as you can see, the editing process is a long and involved process. During this time, the marketing team and those involved in cover art are working as well.
6.) What's the process like for making a book cover? Does the author have any say in what it will look like?
Again, all publishers do things a bit different, but I've been able to give input on many of my covers. Most publishers have a form for the author to fill out. In this form they ask for information about the hero and heroine, setting, secondary characters, etc. They will often ask you for any cover ideas you have as well. The cover above is for a three-in-one historical romance with two other others that will be released this summer. I didn't have any say on that cover, though I think Barbour did a great job with it. The sketch below is for my third cozy mystery also being released by Barbour. They asked me for cover ideas and then have always shown me the preliminary drawing as well for my approval.
Feel free to contact me with any more questions and I'll try to answer them on a later post!