Leonie Tyle’s Hot Tips on Publishing and Editing

So this week my Writing and Publishing Industry uni class was lucky enough to receive another guest lecture from Leonie Tyle of Tyle&Bateson Publishing.

She spoke about the publishing industry and gave the budding and aspiring authors in the class (all of us) some hints about how to break into the publishing industry as an author.

  1. Write the Book

Although this may be a no brainer, Leonie says publishers are more interested in finished work rather than just an idea. Reassure the publishers you’re pitching to about your ability to write a sustained narrative.

  1. Define you Audience

Clearly set out your target market. Having a solid idea of who you are writing for will refine your writing.

  1. Study the Market

Find out who publishes books like yours and if they are big sellers.

  1. Do your Research

Look at the websites of publishers who are relevant to your target market.

  1. Prepare your Manuscript

Your manuscript needs to be as professionally presented as you can possibly make it. Lay out your ms so that it is easy to read and above all else, follow the guidelines the publishers provides.

  1. When Submitting Your Manuscript

Include a cover letter, a synopsis, and a short autobiography. Leonie says in this age of email submissions, it is all right to submit your ms multiple times to the same publishers, as long as you make this clear in your cover letter.

  1. Wait Patiently and Don’t Give Up

This might be an okay motto for life, but it is a bread-and-butter motto for getting your manuscript published. Leonie says never contact publishers again asking after your ms – this is frustrating and annoying to an extremely busy publisher, and might put them off reading your work.

And always remember that if your story is worth publishing, someone will love it as much as you do.

A successful writer is a writer who never gives up.

Leonie Tyle

Amazon v Bricks and Mortar Publishers

Technology is pushing and elbowing its way to the forefront of the publishing industry. EBook sales are rising dramatically, and technology is making it possible for books to be discovered online and promises that offshore markets can be reached efficiently.

Leonie Tyle of Tyle and Bateson Publishing yesterday gave my Writing and Publishing class a lecture about the publishing industry and the technology that is growing within that industry.

So, technology is growing, but does this spell the certain demise of bricks and mortar publishing houses?

Potential Problems for Publishers

Amazon’s growth

Amazon is a pariah: Leonie Tyle. Photo source.

Amazon is a pariah: Leonie Tyle. Photo source.

Leonie says Amazon is pressuring publishers to allow them to manufacture more stock, which would effectively cut out the publisher.

You can imagine why publishers aren’t too happy with Amazon, since if the company succeeds in printing its own books, the bricks and mortar publishers are at risk of becoming completely obsolete.

Technology changes the way in which we purchase books.

Leonie Tyle

eBooks and subscriptions

Growing eBook numbers and numbers of subscription services for eBooks also pose a problem for publishers.

This will essentially force down retail prices and add further pressure to publishers’ profit margins, which already has pressures from several sources, including the amount of print books that get pulped if they don’t sell.

Product innovation

Demand for transmedia stories is growing. Lenoie says it is increasingly common for readers to want books turned into games or movies.

Hypable published an online list of books you should read before seeing the movie here.

Read hypable’s list of books you need to read before seeing the movie here.

The question “have you read the book?” at movie premieres might in the future give way to the question “have you read the eBook?”.

Outcomes

Lenoie says that even in the face of these technological innovations, the death of long-form reading is a long way off.

Studies show that millennials are not much different from the generation before them when it comes to reading habits.

Leonie Tyle

A complete switch to eReaders and eBooks in the face of bricks and mortar publishers dying is probably not going to happen in my lifetime, because this kind of technological shift takes time.

Even so, Lenoie says that things will eventually change in the publishing industry in big ways, because forces are already eroding publishers’ profit margins. She predicts that there might only be two to three big publishers 10 years from now, but a stack of little independent publishers will be doing a whole lot of creative things we’ve never seen before.

I have never owned an eReader, and although I have read textbooks online in PDF format that have been provided by unit coordinators at uni, I have never read a fiction book as an eBook. And I don’t want to.

I love the smell of books. You can't get that from an eReader. Photo source.

I love the smell of books. You can’t get that from an eReader. Photo source.

I love the smell of a bookshop, of old books and new books.

I love the feel of flicking through pages, and staying up late at night reading.

I love being able to see your progress as you devour an amazing book, and feeling a pang of sadness as you realise you’re only a few chapters away from the end of the story.

Being a traditionalist reader, I realise the sad realities of the eventual future of publishing are just that – sad and real. But until then, I am going to snuggle up under a blanket with a hot chocolate and smell my books.

Publishing: The Editing Process according to Melanie Saward

So now that your manuscript has been accepted for publication, what happens now?

Post writing: enter the feared red pen. Photo source.

Post writing: enter the feared red pen. Photo source.

This week Melanie Saward (@littleredwrites) spoke to my uni class, Writing and Publishing Industry, about the publishing process. Melanie corroborated the information I’ve been taught throughout my entire degree by telling us about the three main editing stages.

She also built on this knowledge and described several things that happen while a manuscript is going through these three stages.

Step 1: Structural or substantive edit

This stage of editing is when an editor focuses on the structure of the piece.

Some questions an editor asks when completing a structural edit include:

  • Does it flow well?
  • Is there anything missing?
  • Does the subplot die?
  • Is it consistent?
  • Is the voice strong?
  • Are the characters believable, strong, and consistent?
  • Does the story make sense?

The manuscript is then sent back to the author for rewriting, which is a lengthy process.

Melanie stresses that the author-editor relationship is critical here.

The author needs to trust that the editor has made all the right changes to their book and understands what they’re trying to say.

Melanie Saward

Once the author returns the rewritten manuscript to the publisher, and they are happy with it, usually another contract will be signed and then the manuscript will move on to the copy edit.

Step 2: Copy Edit

A copy edit is a line-by-line edit, when an editor may make sentence-level or paragraph-level changes.

Things editors concentrate on in a copy edit include:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Flow
  • Tense

If another editor comes through and has found major structural problems, they can be adjusted here, but publishers try to avoid doing this.

Parallel to the edit

Cover design

One thing that publishers definitely understand is that we judge books by their covers.

Melanie Saward

Cover meetings are vital to the publishing process; without an attractive cover that says something about the story, readers don’t buy books.

Melanie says the same team that went to the acquisitions meeting (more here) is almost the same team that goes to the cover meeting.

The publisher, who now has more knowledge about when the book will be published and what it will be competing against, presents their vision for the cover.

Covers are an important marketing tool in themselves, as we judge books by their covers. Photo source.

Covers are an important marketing tool in themselves, as we judge books by their covers. Photo source.

Comparison titles are taken to this meeting to show what similar works have on their covers. Melanie also says that hours are sometimes spent on Google images trying to find something that says something about something in the book…

Sounds fun.

At the close of this meeting, a designer is allocated to produce a suitable cover. The designer will then pitch the cover at another cover meeting, and more hours will be spent going over font, and the positioning of tiny details, and all those lovely in-depth technical things.

Sales and Marketing

The sales team will take a cover out and try selling it to booksellers to gauge their interest.editing-and-publishing-process

The marketing team will also be working on a marketing plan.

Sometimes the booksellers and sales and marketing teams will give feedback about whether the cover is working or not in relation to attracting attention.

If the cover isn’t working so well, last minute changes will be made.

Typesetting

Once there is a close-to-final cover, the manuscript will be typeset, or laid out the way it would look when it’s printed.

The marketing department will start seeking reviews, and the sales department will start selling in to booksellers.

A few advanced copies, or reader’s copies, will be sent out for reviewing and feedback. This gives something for the booksellers to start talking about, and helps hype up the book’s release.

These copies may have draft covers that might end up being changed by the time the book is actually printed.

Step 3: Proofreading

Once a few pages have been typeset, it’s time to jump into the last editing stage.

The final edit is quite similar to the final frontier. Photo source.

The final edit is quite similar to the final frontier. Photo source.

Proofreading is the last editing pass, and the time to fix only blatant mistakes. Proofreading is not the time for making huge structural changes.

Melanie loves this stage and relates it back to a word game.

It’s the biggest, most complicated word search you will ever do.

Melanie Saward

While an editor may do two or three passes over the manuscript during this stage, it may be sent to another editor, or a few editors, because each time you pass over the manuscript, mistakes become harder to find because the words become more familiar to your eyes.

Heads up: Melanie says proofreading a manuscript two to three times takes between 20 and 25 hours.

Print and beyond

Once the manuscript and the cover are both signed off, the book is sent to print.

The work does not end here.

After printing, book launches are thrown and publicity events are held, such as signings and author talks.

Authors need to be able to self-market, because even though you may build it, they will not come. Authors need to complement the marketing team’s plan by getting the word out there in their own social circles, whether this is talking about their book to their friends and family or to their Twitter following.

Brisbane Writer's Festival 2015. Photo source.

Brisbane Writer’s Festival 2015. Photo source.

Melanie says more personable authors get higher sales. At festivals and events where several authors are talking, the author who delivers in an interesting and engaging way usually garners more attention at their book tents after their presentation.

Melanie says another perk to working hard through and after the publishing process is that this makes you easy and enjoyable to work with: publishers will be inclined to work with you again.

So make sure you invest your time and passion into your manuscript and shamelessly self-promote it after it’s been published if you want to increase your chances of being published again.

 

<< Previous: Publishing: The Ins and Outs according to Melanie Saward

Publishing: The Ins and Outs according to Melanie Saward

This week my Writing and Publishing class had the pleasure of Melanie Saward (@littleredwrites) cluing us in to what exactly goes on behind the scenes in a publishing house, in relation to her time at HarperCollins.

She spoke about several processes, including how manuscripts enter into publishing houses, the fight publishers endure to get their chosen manuscript signed, and the editing process.

How manuscripts come into a publishing house

  • Literary agents
    Melanie says this is a safer option for publishers, because the manuscript is more likely to be of high quality and therefore is worth looking at.
  • Slush pile
    Unfortunately, manuscripts only rarely make it into the publishing process via the slush pile.
  • By invitation
    Publishers or editors (or both) often visit festivals and other events, and offer to read manuscripts there.
  • Writer’s Houses like Varuna
    Writer’s houses and retreats allow writers to apply for fellowships, during which they receive one-on-one time with editors.
  • Publishing houses overseas
    Publishing houses can buy the rights titles from other houses overseas.

Reading, reporting, and writing pitches

This is a slow process. Unfortunately, Melanie says there will never be enough time or people to read all the manuscripts that come into a publishing house. This may mean that your manuscript being accepted for publishing could be luck of the draw.

Melanie says one reason for this process being slow is balancing time.

It was hard to balance finding time to sit and read the piles and piles and piles of manuscripts that arrived every single day with those manuscripts that we had an investment in already.

Melanie Saward

Because there is no financial investment in reading any manuscript that a publishing house doesn’t have a contract with, they will understandably devote more of their time to working on publishing signed manuscripts.

Acquisitions Meeting

Once a manuscript has been read and the publisher thinks it’s amazing, all the publishing house’s big wigs have a meeting to decide whether the house will sign the manuscript.

Topics of discussion include

  • Merits of publishing
  • Author and their willingness to promote their work
  • Whether the work resembles the author’s life and if are they willing to talk about this at launches and publicity events
  • Where the author is from and what promotion opportunities their location provides
  • When the story is likely to sell
  • What to compare the story to to predict sales and booksellers’ interest

Melanie says a publisher needs to be passionate about the manuscript they bring to the acquisitions meeting, because generally the meeting will include arguments based around any number of the above points.

Post acquisitions meeting: the revered publishing contract. Photo source.

Post acquisitions meeting: the revered publishing contract. Photo source.

If the manuscript is accepted for publication at the acquisitions meeting…

  • Added to system
  • Offer made and contract sent
  • Editor allocated
  • Timeline made
  • Deadlines set

 

>>  Next stage: Publishing: The Editing Process according to Melanie Saward

Brisbane publishing information and tips

For editors

Melanie Saward of Little Red Writes spoke to us yesterday about Brisbane-based job prospects in the publishing industry. The forecast was not ideal.

Only three offices in Brisbane cater to those who wish to work with books, she said, including:

  1. University of Queensland Press (UQP),
  2. Brisbane Writer’s Festival (BWF), and
  3. Queensland Writer’s Centre (QWC).

For a word and communication-centric industry, there sure are a lot of acronyms.

Unfortunately, Brisbane is a black hole for publishing, with most of everything based in Sydney and Melbourne.

Melanie also told the class that hard work through university, work experience, internships, and networking will all contribute toward securing a role in publishing.

There’s no magic way, there’s no perfect degree that guarantees you a position, there’s no mix of skills that makes you a dream employee.

Melanie Saward

So although you have to work ridiculously hard to secure a job in publishing, and you have to continue working ridiculously hard to maintain your job in publishing, Melanie said awesome benefits await those who dare forge ahead.

Benefits of working in a publishing house

  • You receive a free copy of any book you work on in an editorial capacity,
  • You get a lot of free books,
  • When you do buy them, books are a tax deduction, because you work with them,
  • You get free books, and
  • Did I mention that you get free books?
The best perk of working in publishing? Free books! Photo source.

The best perk of working in publishing? Free books! Photo source.

Assuming that someone working in publishing does so because they love books, receiving free books sounds like the best job perk ever invented.

Despite these obstacles, Melanie encouraged us to follow our dreams, if we dream of working in publishing, because it is a really rewarding job.

For authors

The flip side of this discussion was trying to break into the publishing industry as an author. Melanie gave us some top tips on what not to do when sending in a manuscript.

Melanie Saward’s 10 ways to not get a publisher’s attention, or to get their attention for all the wrong reasons

  1. Sending an unedited manuscript (ms)
    Never send in your ms straight after you’ve finished writing. Always take the time to draft, edit, proofread, and perfect it before sending it to a publisher. You should be showcasing your best work when you submit it for publishing.
  2. Sending an ms without a cover letter or synopsis
    This is like applying for a job and sending a resume without a cover letter. Use the cover letter and synopsis when submitting your ms to summarise and categorise your writing. As well as promoting your work, this ensures that it goes to the right person for consideration.
  3. Sending an ms in an envelope full of glitter
    Apparently, yes, this does happen. Melanie said this has happened to her several times. Her point here was to make sure that your writing speaks for itself and to not rely on fancy packaging or document layout to get the publisher’s attention, because all they want to read is your words.
  4. Sending cards, flowers, or other gifts
    Similar to point number three, sending gifts with your ms submission can be seen as bribery, which is never looked upon favourably. Again, your words need to speak for themselves.
  5. Sending reviews from friends and family
    Although it is fantastic that those who love you love your writing, these opinions may not be the most subjective or accurate representations of your work.
  6. Sending detailed marketing and publicity plans
    Publishing houses have marketing and publicity departments for this purpose, and they are, like you, genuinely interested in selling your published work (if they accept it for publication, of course). They have a vested interest in moving your product because this means revenue.
  7. Sending mock ups of cover designs
    As above, publishing houses have amazing designers who understand that people do judge books by their covers, and who will therefore strive to produce the cover that best suits and will best sell your work.
  8. Emailing rebuttals to rejection letters
    Melanie said that emailing a list of reasons why a publisher’s rejection of your work was wrong and telling them that they just passed up the best book they’ll ever read is never a good idea. You should thank the person for considering your ms and move on.
  9. Sending your ms in again or to another publishing house without editing after it being rejected
    Ideally, you should spend some time working on your piece before submitting it for publication again. This gives you another chance to enhance your work so that you are showcasing your best writing.
  10. Failing to follow submission guidelines to the letter
    Melanie said there is nothing more frustrating than receiving an ms that has been typeset to look like a book, or that has an obscure font, or that has been wrapped up or adorned in any way whatsoever. It’s frustrating enough reading through the slush pile without having to cope with all of this. So please, do your potential future editor a favour and follow the submission guidelines.
Ease the frustration of those who read the slush pile. Follow submission guidelines. Photo source.

Ease the frustration of those who read the slush pile. Follow submission guidelines. Photo source.

Melanie’s top three pieces of advice if you are dreaming writing a bestseller

Patience,

Self-belief, and

Write. Always.

 

Online Literary Magazines: Content Considerations and Functional Formatting

So you want to make a literary magazine.

magazine peopleYou’ve answered the questions from my first post and considered some underlying factors outlined in the previous post. Now you should focus on nutting out what content and form your magazine will have and take, and whether it is sustainable.

 

Content: Acquisition

When you make a magazine, it isn’t good enough to have a fantastic first edition. You must be able to commit to making every edition as fantastic as the first.

To do this, you must be able to sustain the acquisition of content. Will you have enough time in between issues to find high quality content to publish? Will you be able to find enough content?

Don't be stuck for content each edition; plan ahead. Photo source.

Don’t be stuck for content each edition; plan ahead. Photo source.

You can find, source, and access content several different ways, including:

  • Having permanent or changing notices on your website,
  • Connecting and making a community that encourages submissions,
  • Holding competitions, and
  • Commissioning work, either in-house or via head hunting talent.

Ideally you will be gathering content from several, if not all, of these avenues. The more you open yourself to receiving content, the more content you have to choose from.

Although this means never stressing about filling an edition, it also means having a bigger slush pile to sift through. A growing stream of submissions will therefore mean one of two things:

  1. Publish editions that are further apart, or
  2. Employ staff to go through submissions to publish editions that are closer together.

Technology

Once you have your content sorted, you need to consider the technological side of publishing an online magazine.

The following are very important for accessibility:

  • Internet speed,
  • Download limits, and
  • File sizes.

The last thing you want to do is limit your readership to those who have fast download speeds.

Be aware that the size of your magazine file may be too large for some users to download. Photo source.

Be aware that the size of your magazine file may be too large for some users to download. Photo source.

If you are publishing your magazine in a PDF format, here are some websites that will make the file size smaller:

Reducing the file size of your PDF document will solve issues such as internet speeds and download limits. Granted, those with slow internet speeds will still download the file slower than those who have high internet speeds, but the process won’t take an eternity.

And if you are publishing in a PDF format, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Weigh the pros and cons of using PDF as your magazine's file format. Information sourced from Writing and Publishing Industry lecture content Week 5.

Weigh the pros and cons of using PDF as your magazine’s file format. Information sourced from Writing and Publishing Industry lecture content Week 5.

Platforms

If you haven’t noticed, eReaders, iPads, tablets, and other mobile devices are becoming increasingly common for reading books and news on the go.

You might find it beneficial to consider publishing your magazine in a format readable by different types of devices.

 

Caption here. Photo source.

Due to the popularity of eReaders and other mobile devices, you might want to consider publishing your magazine in a file type accessible for these devices. Photo source.

EPUB files are widely accessible by a large number of eReaders and devices, but must be converted before they’re usable on the Amazon Kindle. EPUB files can also be opened on computers using any number of free programs like Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

Here’s a handy article that explains how to export files from certain programs into an EPUB format, make an EPUB from scratch and edit it, and convert almost anything to an EPUB file.

Dissemination

Finally you need to make decisions around the availability of your magazine.

The considerations that I’ve covered so far in relation to dissemination include:

  • How often will you publish and in what format?
  • Are there barriers to access like too-large file sizes?
  • Where will your revenue come from to fuel your magazine’s continuity?

You should have already addressed these considerations by this “making public” stage of your magazine. However, other decisions need to be made about the dissemination of your magazine. The main two are marketing and publicity.

Making a magazine isn't enough. Marketing a magazine is essential. Photo source.

Making a magazine isn’t enough. Marketing a magazine is essential. Photo source.

How are you going to market and publicise your publication? Are you going to create and maintain social media accounts that build a community around your magazine? Are you going to badger your friends to download your magazine or submit content for you to publish?

But importantly, how are you going to get the name of your magazine out there? How are people going to find out about this amazing new publication?

Here’s an article to help you get the ball rolling. Listed are five simple magazine marketing steps, including:

  1. Professional conversations: promote an expert’s opinion.
  2. Features: use appropriate, current content.
  3. Points of view: open yourself to reader feedback and opinion.
  4. Discussions: create a comments section on your website.
  5. Have humour: using photos that people want to share can generate interest.

 

Good luck!

 

<< Previous: Online Literary Magazines: People, Relationships, and Skills

<< Earlier: Online Literary Magazines: From Ideation to Creation

Online Literary Magazines: People, Relationships, and Skills

So you want to make a literary magazine.

After you’ve answered the questions in my previous post, Online Literary Magazines: From Ideation to Creation, you should consider some more underlying factors, like people, content, and technology.

People, Relationships, and Skills

People

At first, you might be the only one working on your magazine if you have the necessary design skills. Although you can essentially produce a magazine in a Microsoft Word document, save it as a PDF, and then publish it online, you might want to skill-swap with or employ someone who has design skills to create an interactive, user-friendly document.

For example, you might want to create a clickable contents page, so readers can click on an article listed and be transported straight to the appropriate page, instead of having to navigate the magazine in a linear fashion.

Even if you are the only person creating your magazine, you will still have other people who you are interacting with, directly or indirectly. These could include:

magazine people

Information sourced from Writing and Publishing Industry lecture material Week 5.

Some of these people may fit into several of these categories. For example, you may charge to publish submissions, making contributors fall into the category of funders as well.

Relationships

Also important to consider is the relationship you hold with the above mentioned people. You should be able to clearly define these relationships so the lines don’t become blurred. If you are working directly with people, set some boundaries or guidelines from the beginning so there is no confusion.

I would also suggest fostering a community around your magazine.

Fostering a community is important for a healthy readership and staff. Photo source.

Fostering a community is important for a healthy readership and staff. Photo source.

Connecting with people and investing time, and possibly money, into building an online and physical community is very important if you want to establish a loyal readership and also a happy staff.

Skills

Clearly stating requirements and expectations of staff, contributors, and contractors is of high importance, and these things will differ depending on whether money is involved.

Also important to consider is whether these people are available internally or if you will seek skills externally.

design lightbulb

Designs offer a world of skills and knowledge. Photo source.

You may wish to restrict the skills you use to what is available internally. For example, you may contract or commission a staff member to submit content for each edition.

 

<< Previous: Online Literary Magazines: From Ideation to Creation

>> Next: Online Literary Magazines: Content Considerations and Functional Formatting