Interview a Publisher 2

Do you wonder how long it takes to publish a book? Are you a writer curious as to what to do next?

I have Cameron Thorne of Panama Hat Publishing, Ltd, back with more details about publishing.

Being a Publisher (Part 2)

V. K. Finnish: Let’s start out talking about the book process at the publisher’s end. How long does it take to publish a book?
CT: It can vary greatly depending on the book and the goals. An ebook-only project with no illustrations starting from a really solid manuscript that needs minimal editing could take as little as a few weeks. At the other end of the spectrum, you have print books with illustrations that may need a lot more work. For a typical middle grade novel, I think six to nine months is a good rule of thumb.

VKF: Give a tour of the process of a book from the time you get it till it hits a bookshelf.
CT: I may actually start with a book before the manuscript is ready. Sometimes a manuscript may need some story shepherding to refine it based on conversations with the author about target audience. The manuscript will need to be professionally copyedited. If there are illustrations, the author and I will put together all the information the illustrator will need (e.g. character descriptions), and work together to find an illustrator who is a good match for the book’s style and budget. If there are no illustrations, there still probably needs to be a stock photo selected for the cover. Meanwhile the author needs to approve the corrections that the editor is making. The manuscript will go through one final editorial review after all revisions are done. Once all this is done, then production begins. I will work on a cover design and begin typesetting the book for printing and formatting the ebook version. If the book is being submitted for reviews or nomination for an award, there are some very specific timelines that must be followed. All along, a publicity campaign is being planned with the author, and pre-publication marketing may begin to go out (such as launching an author website or video book trailers). Finally, the book goes to the printer and a proof comes back. For ebooks I test it out on various ebook readers (not everyone has the latest device). If everything looks good, it gets published!

VKF: Let’s mention people like me who don’t want to be publishers, but want to be authors. What does a publisher do for an author?
CT: Story shepherding, planning & scheduling, copyediting, design work, sometimes getting illustrations, typesetting, ebook conversion, managing production, sales, distribution, customer service, marketing and publicity, accounting, managing rights and permissions… Just about everything except writing and printing.

VKF: What do I have to do to get published?
CT: Start with a great story. Are your characters real? Do you know their back-stories? Make sure your manuscript has general appeal for your target audience and is age-appropriate in content and vocabulary. Put the same effort into packaging and “selling” your manuscript as you want your publisher or agent to put into producing your book.

VKF: Do you accept submissions from authors? from agents?
CT: Short answer: yes to both. Long answer: My production schedule was completely full for 2012, but I’m in the process of updating my submission guidelines and hoping to get some quality submissions for 2013. Check back to www.panamahatpublishing.com in the next few weeks for my updated submission guidelines.

VKF: Do you have any advice for authors seeking to get published?
CT: Seek out a publisher or an agent who specializes in your genre. Throwing a generic query letter out there to 50 agents who you didn’t research is a sure way to get 50 discouraging rejections. You should research your potential agents and publishers and tell them why your book is a good fit for their vision. Learn about the market you want to enter and pay attention to who your competition is. Keep trying and remember that a “no” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unpublishable, just that your manuscript didn’t connect with that particular agent. Remember: it only takes one “yes”!

VKF: Now for the fun part, let’s get to know a little about you, Cameron. What do you read for fun?
CT: Other than manuscripts, I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately to learn new things, but for fiction I have always enjoyed the early Sci-Fi genre, such as Isaac Asimov.

VKF:  Why did you get into publishing?
CT: I have always had an interest in publishing, and after 15 years of experience working for other publishers I decided to start my own company. This is such an exciting time of change for the industry, it’s a great time to jump in.

VKF:  What do you like best about your job?
CT: My favorite thing is getting my hands of the first printed proof copy of a book from the printer. It is so rewarding to hold something tangible after months of working on it.

VKF:  What do you find frustrating about your work?
CT: Murphy’s Law means I usually find a mistake right after approving the final version for printing. Revisions can be expensive.

VKF:  Is there anything you found surprising about this work?
CT: It is far more work than I thought it would be to run the business side of things. 

VKF: As you know from my book The Society’s Traitor, a Fetch is an animal companion that is linked to you and completely loyal to you. If you could have a Fetch, what sort of animal would it be?
CT: An Ocelot.

Thanks to Panama Hat Publishing for giving this interview. I hope it sheds some light on publishing for you. Be sure to visit Panama Hat Publishing’s website to get to know more about them.

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