HOW TO SMOOTHLY JUMP THROUGH HOOPS AND HURDLES TO GET YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED AND READ!
LESLIE SIEGEL's TRUE ACCOUNT OF BEING BULLIED IN A NEW ENGLAND TOWN & HOW SHE COPED!
LESLIE SIEGEL (ELIZA OSBERG) WROTE A TRUE STORY ABOUT "LIVING LIFE AT THE UN PLAZA" IN NYC DURING THE TURBULENT 1970's!
LESLIE SIEGEL FINISHED HER FIRST NOVEL "WHERE THE WOODS WERE" A TIME TRAVEL HISTORICAL ROMANCE SAGA!
YOUR PUBLISHER WILL SET YOU UP ONLINE WITH A WEB SITE OF YOUR BOOKS!
WHAT ARE PUBLISHERS LOOKING FOR IN A GOOD WRITER?
The first thing publishers look for in a writer is actually outside of the writer! They look for the contact or representative that you’ve asked to call on your behalf. You should NEVER call for yourself, maybe just to ask if they are taking on any new writers. If they say “yes”, then leave your name and say you will have your rep contact them soon, and give them the rep’s name. Make sure they take the time to write all the info down, but don’t take too long. That’s the first hurdle for you as a writer.
The first thing they will probably ask is, “Did this writer cold call us?” “Did a lawyer call for this writer?” “Did the writer’s manager or agent call for this writer?” Or, they may even foil you trying to be your own fake manager calling them about yourself. They don’t like that unless you can pull it off right. Don’t try it, get support. They know all the tricks at Publishing Central, Inc. - “Did this guy disguise his voice and ‘pretend’ to be his own contact?” If you want to call, then say it is you, don’t start off with lies. You will get nowhere that way.
So then after they establish how you got to them, they will decide quickly if they want to bring you in for an ‘initial’ look over, usually just a phone interview with a junior editor, maybe the assistant to the assistant’s assistant at first.
It’s a good idea to have someone with some legal power or agent power, or Uncle John the manager of big stars in his day, or even a friend who is in the business like a Publicist or maybe even a semi famous actor/actress! It all depends on how you first get your foot in the door and then the real fun begins!
If you can get passed the first gatekeeper on your own or through your representative (who knows the business), then you will speak to the second gatekeeper who will quiz you on who your rep is, his name, etc. In other words, "who got you to this point?" They’ll notate your rep’s name, rank and phone number. It’s good to have an entertainment lawyer or business manager (even if it’s Uncle Pete’s cousin’s sister’s husband) to call and inquire if the publisher is taking on any new clients and that a manuscript written by you is available for the publishers review.
So once they take the bait, your chances get a little better, but you are still in the '10,000th person call range', but the majority of first time writers like yourself usually just cold call and pretend to be their manager. As I stated, that does not fly in today’s publishing arena. So get cracking on finding the right person to call for you.
If they take the bait, they may ask your contact to call “so and so” the assistant to the assistant’s assistant. Making contact with them can be the hardest part. Why? Most of the reasons for their attitude doesn't really have to do with you as a potential writer coming in. Here’s some of the things that may be a high hurdle for you to jump. But, be vigilant and keep at it with them. They are trained to trip you up, so don’t slip and stay calm. In the end, if the book holds its own, you shouldn't have any problems with this.
Reasons for their cold attitude at first: Chances are the person you first meet with may have written a book themselves and wants the publisher to look “in house” and read THEIR book, not yours. Another silly reason they may act aloof is that they may think you're pulling a ploy to try and grab their job. Try and play down their cold and contrite way with you by talking about your book, how you came to write it or anything that will take their mind off the negative.
Put their mind at ease by talking only about how much you enjoy writing and not working full time in an office like they are. That should stave off any ill will toward you. And remember that at that moment “they” have the power. So, just go with the flow of their questions. It's all standard protocol. You are about the 500th person they've seen in last 4 days.
During your talk with the second person, or if your representative decides to talk to the person, make sure you and your rep take it slow and easy, almost like you couldn’t care less about any old publishing company. Sometimes it's a good idea to every now and then look at your watch, but be subtle, as if you have another important meeting. Don’t talk like a mouse either. Man up or be a Manwoo (a strong woman).
Chances are you or your rep will be making many calls to different publishers before you hook the right one. The ratio of landing a publisher on the first try is very slim, but it does happen. Most of the publisher’s staff are extremely picky about who they let in or cut loose, even if the ones cut loose have a great book or manuscript! It's like a roll of the dice. You or your rep have to act fast and try and make the second meeting materialize into a visit to the bigger office to meet with yet another minion, most probably an office manager, or maybe, if you luck out, a Junior Editor (newbie guy/girl at publishing firm).
Now the game of “cat and mouse begins!” You have made contact with the publisher with a rep and it looks like the publishing firm is going to let you move up to the next rung to talk with the next person. After that happens, and you get established correctly there, it becomes a bit of a stall at this point until you get "the call". But don't worry, that's normal. So, don't park yourself by the phone you don’t think is ever going to ring. Instead, do something constructive. And keep up your faith, because it will ring eventually.
Your rep will say 2 important things: 1. Don’t call me, I’ll call you as soon as I hear from them, and 2. Do NOT call the publisher for any reason, unless instructed to do so. Listen to everything your rep says and do it. You must establish a good communication line with your rep as well as the team at the publishers.
From then on, it’s a waiting game. I’m sure the rep has told them about what you wrote, what it is in very short terms. The fish hook is in the water and the fish are still sleeping at the bottom of the lake, so have patience and pray, cross your fingers, don't give up your publishing book dreams.
Okay, so you finally get the call! And I mean “THE CALL”. Your door of opportunity has cracked open and light is coming through. See your rep’s big foot blocking the publisher from closing it in your faces?
Next is the easiest part. You still do not meet with any big shots until your rep or yourself gets a copy of the book or manuscript to the Publishing firm. Actually, the Publisher (CEO type that plays golf with upper level) will never really see or read your book. He’s got about 200 other hopefuls, so his assistant just gives him something called a "one sheet" that contains all the pertinent information about your book, plot, characters and story and you.
This will be put right in his assistant’s “IN BOX” first. He/She will get to it at a certain time, most probably when the one sheets start piling up, as they always do by the middle of the week. They have to have a certain number of the one sheets to get a wide range of writers and see who has a good read or who they are going to pass on. In fact, you'll be in danger of a "pass on" during any of the "piece work" to get you from point to point at their offices.
Once the publishing company gets about 50 one sheets (sometimes 100 depending on which Publisher you are going for), the publisher's assistant will take them from her assistant and read each one, as well as take notes, go through each potential very carefully before the lot of them are passed along to the Assistant to the Publisher. (Out of breath yet?)
Sometimes to be fancy, sometimes a rep will add a photo of the potential writer, so make sure you have some glossy 8 x 10’s of yourself available with a short resume on the back relating to publishing, writing or anything you can think of to add to the list that will give it a bit of weight (not padding).
That little resume is very important. That’s your golden key to the Publisher’s wash room. Now it’s going to get a little tricky. Let’s say there are 99 one sheets mixed in with yours? If you have a good rep, or you are on 'game point', and you feel confident enough, try and make sure your stuff is closer to the top of the heap. It all depends when you bring it in and if you can guess or know when the assistant is going to make the next move with your “one sheet” When they ask you for the one sheet, try and bring it in at the last possible moment, like in the late afternoon of Thursday. Obviously, timing is the ticket to the best seats on a 'first come first serve' basis.
Another thing to get noticed is to dress up the manuscript with a nice cover and deliver it in a cool envelope that will stand out from the others. Use a different offbeat color for the packaging of the manuscript. Have it delivered by a fancy messenger service and don’t be cheap on dressing it up as best you can, maybe send along a small “Thank you in advance for your consideration” food basket and a small bottle of champagne. Everyone at the publishing firm will love the food and drink, and it will get around who sent it, even if it's been done before. It still has an effect, so try it.
They do a lot of reading, so food is a staple, and you even might want go just a step further by adding a cute note that reads: “Just in case we need to celebrate … hint, hint… Thanks - Sign with a Red Sharpie so they can't help seeing it when it is delivered. In big red letters write "THANK YOU ALL FOR THE CHANCE!" Then write your name in block letters. It's an attention grabber for sure. Believe me, the right people will notice and you will be glad you did do it.
After a few weeks you or the rep will hear back from the publishing firm. They will most probably say, “Hi, we’ve decided to send the manuscript over to our reading crew!” Really, if they say that, then your chances just increased, and maybe the food basket and champagne worked, hey?
It’s a good idea to send a basket to the person who is going to read your manuscript as well. But send the exact same one as you sent to the others. You don't want to push it or make it seem like you are bribing them. The note you put in the basket should read something like this: “Dear Reader: I’ve sent you a basket of food and some good champagne, so that when you read my manuscript you will be relaxed and comfortable. My pleasure, and thank you. Happy reading! Looking forward to hearing from you either way.” Then sign your name and send it off, or have the rep send it, or even have him/her drive it there.
If you want to save money on a messenger, get a cute friend (female or male) to take it in. It’s great when you have a pretty lady or even a very handsome actor looking guy deliver it. The firm will know they are not messengers, but they will note the faces and your name too. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. There’s a good chance they will remember you because of a small detail like that.
Next your manuscript (your baby) is being taken to a reading room where 1 of maybe 50 readers will read your manuscript from cover to cover, and they will take more notes. These people are your new best friends. They are the ones that will have a say in whether the manuscript is up to par to move to the next phase. Make sure they get your manuscript and the basket too and champagne too. If you really want to splurge and have the energy, make the basket yourself, they will know.
In fact, if you want to make the time, put together about 10 baskets. Make sure each are equal and have the bottle of Champagne. That way a few readers will share the baskets and booze and they will be impressed that you went that far to make sure they were comfortable. If you do it in a respectful and business-like way, it should work. Non verbal communication is best before you are invited in to talk to them, with your rep, so try and go out of your way, but don’t make it too obvious. No one likes a needy show off.
Think like this: “Hey, I don’t need your money for my manuscript, I’m doing this on a lark!” You’d be surprised how “readers” or even the “assistants” can react subconsciously when you pull that off with the baskets and booze.
So now your manuscript is in the right hands. The reader will read it and then send it back to the assistant’s assistant, who will pass it on to the assistant. When the assistant gets it, she/he will put it in a special pouch that goes “UPSTAIRS” where the big wigs sit in their huge offices surrounded by literally thousands of manuscripts stacked up around the office. Those have been mailed in with no pre phone call, no rep and no after phone call, so they are in a holding pattern, to be gone through during the down times, just in case they missed a blockbuster.
Don’t forget that when you finally do get in to one of those offices, you look around and mention stuff around the office like, “Oh that’s Brad Pitt up there. Did he write a book?” Or, “Wow, didn't Piper Kerman write that?" (The New Black is Orange Netflix girl's prison hit show). Be sure to relay interest in a myriad of things around the office before you start to discuss your book. Your rep will know what to do and talk about and notice, so follow the rep's lead. Remember, it’s not all about you. Publishing companies usually want writers who think out of their own boxes and get along with others, as well as have a well rounded life experience and are astute and alive.
When you get to this stage of the game, watch out for the dreaded "barrels". Most of them are already stuffed with rejected manuscripts left and right. Take note that each barrel has a label on it. Make sure your manuscript doesn’t end up in the following barrels: The “Unsolicited” barrel where hopeful writers with no contact or initial first phone calls end up. They don’t throw out those manuscripts, nor send them back. Instead, those will be eventually picked through during any dry spells at the firm or any downtime. They are read only for new ideas, not to be used for anything else.
You don't want the word "unsolicited" stamped on your manuscript. There is a rumor that some publishing houses will give those to a junior editor and a whole new book could be born. Usually publishers have “seasoned writers on the inside for this as well.
A barrel labeled “Green”, it means your writing is not professional enough to go beyond that point. It’s put in that barrel, then you are sent a “rejection slip”. And eventually they will shred those manuscripts. On occasion they may even call your rep about the status, it depends how good a bad manuscript is if you get a call back saying it was rejected.
Let’s just say you don’t end up in any barrel. We can assume your manuscript is going to be read, and if it’s good and has potential, you will surely hear about it. You may also have the luck of the Irish to be given one of their best readers, who will dress it up further. Or maybe it's going to be just the right time of day, or the right opportunity and the right people around at the time your book is finally picked up for the next phase -- getting read!
No one said this was going to be a breeze unless you are someone like George Clooney or Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston and you’ve written a “tell all” book with a ‘ghost writer' Usually that manuscript heads right past the teams and straight to the front of the line. If you are not famous, you still may get lucky to be set on top of the pile.
Another trick of the trade is to find out who is repping George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston. Information is power, so you may have an even better chance. It’s where the cards fall for the most part, but there is a little luck, a little cunning, and armed with the right attitude and info. Don't forget Factors are constantly figuring in. If it’s a strong story, and it goes through all those channels, it will get upstairs for sure, no matter who you are.
From there it will lay in someone’s “IN BOX” for weeks until, again, they accumulate enough upstairs to justify their jobs. Be ready for a long winter… Make sure you have plenty of wood, and while you are at it, start another manuscript while you wait for this one to pay off or bug off. You are almost there.
After a few weeks (protocol), your book is picked out and brought to the Assistant to the Publisher. That person will skim the notes and read some parts of book to get an idea about what to tell the Publisher. Once that happens, it could be another month or two. Once the Assistant to the Publisher gets it in her or his hands (most assistant’s to the publisher are female) they will take it along with about 20 others manuscripts and put it in a “special” box for the publisher peruse.
Are you finally almost there? Oh, not quite. The assistant will eventually come back to the publisher's box and arrange any extra manuscripts that may have floated in at the last minute. Take into account that other like you will attempt the same late trick. It should work.
The Assistant will organize them again. She/he may even read each one briefly just in case the publisher asks her something about one in particular or she might be able to give her two cents and that would show the publisher she's on her game too. Then again, sometimes you get lucky and she/he may like what they read and your name is on the cover front and center!
Then you can only pray that her Instinct says to place your manuscript at the top of the heap. Is that fair? Maybe not. But it depends on what other manuscripts are there and if those potentials have more well known reps or agents or managers or entertainment lawyers, or if they are famous themselves. But if you get someone there that likes your book at a glance, it will be set aside and put to the top for sure.
Each manuscript now has a new neatly typed “one sheet” attached, all the notes and comments from the team that got it to into the publisher's hand. All this makes it easier for the publisher to do his/her job faster by reading the one sheets. Although our manuscript is closer to the publisher's hands, there's a slight chance he may decide to take out a few and throw them in the “reject barrel” in his office, depending on his mood. He may spot an irregularity or mistake and that ruins his view of the perfection of writing. So make sure you check your work and re check and get 5 others to check it too. It does happen, and I hope it never happens to you.
But if you’ve gotten this far, then chances are the publisher will read your manuscript. And if he sees an interesting title or note on it, he will pay attention. The publisher may even set it aside on his desk, go though the others, and take a last long look again at all of them, but a little bit extra on your one sheet. Now the odds are shrinking in your favor. Out of 10,000 submissions, it’s now down to 4 submissions, counting your own.
It sits again for a few weeks until they can decide what to do and when it’s time for the “rewrites”. They set a big meeting regarding the 4 books that were chosen, with yours in the pile right on top. Everyone in the meeting will discuss each property and how it can fit the publishers criteria. So your manuscript is now being called a “property”.
During that meeting, they may make a few last ditch decisions, look over the 4 properties again, take note of the authors, make a special file for each new writer, and sometimes, at the last minute, another property may be taken out of the game for some unforeseen reason only the publisher would know. It may need some retooling, or perhaps, at the final hour, the publisher got a hunch that it just is not going to make the cut as they progress with the project.
Always hope it's not your property, and it probably won't be, but you never know, so always be ready. The next phase is contacting you or your rep about the status. You will get a letter that will tell you what’s what too. If you’ve been waiting for months, then there’s a good chance they are going to take you on.
Then the day comes at last. You receive the letter and it feels thicker than a normal letter, which could mean that here is an advance check inside. If the rep gets the letter (which would be better) he will call you with the good news, get a small percentage of the advance and then the rest goes to you. That’s incentive for you. Some writers will get their first advance and start a whole new project on the spot. Publishers do not live on one book alone!
Now the next phase, which can be a bit painful. The publisher will want to start making a lot of changes and this is where your work is going to get hard. Remember, you have an advance check, so you had better be open and flexible to any suggestions or changes to be made. They may even hack away your favorite scenes. Don’t cry, don’t bat an eye. Just swallow your pride. You have to be strong. They know what they are doing.
After you receive the advance check and letter, you call as soon as possible (don't do what they do and wait weeks) and make an appointment to see one of the editors who has been assigned to you and will oversee every aspect of this book and making suggestions and maybe a few changes with your approval, which you give no matter what.
Be ready to be burning the oil with the changes and cuts. You are in the door and the book is getting attention. You may have to go through lots of rejections of scenes or characters and new scenes will be written and revised. Just go with the flow, especially if you don’t have someone in the business helping and supporting you. But if you make it this far on your own, be ready to work doubly harder now.
Have all your ducks in a row, and make any changes or adages they want you to. Don’t play the Truman Capote crying over a lost chapter game, or they will stop and send you home with your book in hand. This is a ‘team effort’, so stay with the program.
Once the rewrite is ready, it goes to yet another reader. After that, it goes right back upstairs. Meanwhile, you have an advance check and can start work on your next book or just relax, take time off.
In the meantime, they will be in contact to ask about this or that regarding the book. Or what colors you may want for the cover? What font do you prefer? Do you want illustrations? Can you make time to be interviewed by our specialist for the dust cover? Can you write a short plot summary? And so on… Do everything they ask.
The next step is to go over it again and firm it up. After that, it may just be ready for the publisher to sign off on. From there it goes to press in about 3 months, depending on the load ahead of your book that is already scheduled. The reason it takes so long is because you are not the only one publishing a book with this publisher. You have to wait your turn. But it's worth the wait, I assure you.
They have literally 2000 book writers on the roster at Doubleday, maybe more. And it all goes in a rotation. There's a protocol on how it is done and the format has rarely changed except for the adding of computers to print the books up. It all must be followed to the letter. One mistake, and it could mean losing a lot of time, money and manpower. Even reputations are at stake, maybe even the whole publishing company itself. So proceed with ease and caution.
Once the book is read at least one more time, it is finally sent to “PRODUCTION”. The production director will have instructions on what to do, how many copies, etc. He/she puts it aside for maybe two weeks so preparations can be made for its printing. Computer programs and scans have to be made, book covers, pages, designs, and the book must be bound. The manuscript has to be scanned into the system so it can print up the books. Your manuscript is no longer called a manuscript! It’s a honest to goodness book once it slides out of the binding machine.
Once it is in book form, an ISBN number is issued, which is a type of tracking number. You then sign a contract before everything goes to press. By the time you and your rep come into the office, the project is on hold until you sign, talk about any details, and then celebrate by popping the cork. Then the presses begin to roll and in about 3 more months your book is ready for distribution. Wow, you did it. Congrats. Everyone involved will slap you on the back and hug you with joy. You are in the game.
Now the hard part …. going on tour to get the buzz out on your book. It also helps with distribution, which is how you will make your bulk of the money. The publisher will give you a separate check for the tour and pay all your expenses. You will either be put on a tour with a few other newbie authors, or they will send you to a few small book venues and colleges to get the “green” out of you. It will also season you and give you more confidence.
In the meantime, they are printing your book according to how many show up to your signings, or how many book clubs ordered. And if you get a good review, they can usually tell by that. Your publisher will also find out if anyone else has read it like Oprah Winfrey or Ellen. That’s a plus too, and will give you and your book more climb.
The last step before they release the book to stores or online sites is to license it. That makes the property/book open for movies, plays, musicals, TV shows, TV movies, or just a large bulk of online kindle formats. That could take a few weeks or longer.
If it becomes licensed, other venues like the studios, playhouses and colleges can pay a royalty fee and use it. There’ll also be talk of entering the book into festivals and bookstore readings where you show up and read it out loud. But it’s the tour that will really sell that book and also create a word of mouth buzz on it. The publisher will also send about 500 of the printed books to different places like book stores, book clubs, schools, retirement homes and any other places, even coffee houses like Star Bucks. It will also be sent to colleges and universities.
They will ship out your books before you reach the bookstore on your tour route, which can be rigorous and tiring, but worth it in the end. It’s like a band that records in the studio then goes on the road and plays for a year tour! By the end of the year, they will be known by more people and gather a good following, as you will too. It’s the same concept. And you may even find it selling on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as other popular online sites. And that's a bigger plus and a wider audience too.
Start thinking of yourself as a rock star after all the hurdles you crossed and all the hoops you jumped through to take center stage. So after all that, you are a writer and the publisher (depending on how your first book does or if there’s a need for a second printing if it is that good) will increase the amount of books and wait for the book critics to weigh in as well.
You will begin receiving more money, more perks for finishing early, or even starting your new book during the tour, as well as a sequel to the book just published and out the door. Wow, you are really becoming a real Stephen King or J.K. Rowlings.
Lastly, if your book doesn’t do well after everything, it will still be deemed good. Books usually have certain times of the year when they pick up, so don't worry. They will not weed out your book because at this point it is not dead weight or written badly. You may need a fresher campaign, or a different angle to sell the book. They will find it.
It’s not overwritten either, because it’s been though the obstacle course at the publishers, so there is no room for a bad book to get through with the safeguards set up as they are. If it needed tweaking or was a bit overwritten, the publisher's staff and writers would have taken the reins and slowed that pony down.
Don’t ever let down your guard or get too confident at this point. Any number of things could still happen as you move though the ranks of the publishing system. The contracts are usually 'ironclad, so if you are a good writer, you will still be on your way, unless you get writer’s block and can’t come up with a second book. Then you will be let go and called “a one hit wonder”… Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I think that covers everything. Good luck.