1. Once you have the manuscript in hand, how long does it take to produce a book & what’s involved?
The standard time frame in the industry is 1 year from the time editing begins, add to that many months to approve and schedule the manuscript it could easily take 2 years for a large publisher to bring a book to publication. The plan I developed fast-tracks the process to finish in 8 months from the time we schedule the manuscript for editing. However, if the manuscript is not ready for editing and needs rewriting it would add another month or two depending on the author’s turn around time with the rewritten manuscript.
Another consideration would be when we receive a manuscript. We would first determine what season it will come out, and there could be a delay until we can start the editing process to accommodate the scheduled publication date. I would say at most one year all things considered. Our color-coded Book Production Timeline, which is given to the author with their contract shows much of what’s involved. The Book Production Timeline lists all jobs assigned to each person/department (each assigned their own color). It shows their responsibilities and their individual time line for accomplishing designated tasks. Among those jobs displayed are things like cover design, submission dates for front cover for sales catalogs, editing as the manuscript flows to typesetter, then proofing. This whole process will take about 3 months.
Other publisher responsibilities that occur during this 3-month period are to create a basic industry fact sheet for the book, assigning ISBN numbers, getting blurbs for the back cover, working with the authors on marketing plans, applying for Library of Congress Catalog in Publication data, placing the book on Bowker’s list, getting print quotes and many other logistical tasks. Once digital files are sent to a printer we are 4 to 6 weeks from books being shipped to our distributor (this depends on the printer’s own timetable).
In the meantime, the distributor reps have been pre-selling our books and setting them up in the various wholesalers and chain bookstore databases, as well as, placing the books with online retailers. Once books are received by the distributor, it will take another2 to 6 weeks to distribute the books to those who have preordered, and they will continue distributing as orders continue to come in as a result of buzz created by press releases and book signing events featuring the author. At some point we may have ordered galley copies to send to industry reviewers like Publisher Weekly and Foreword Magazine. Once we receive the finished copies we send out media review copies based on the marketing plan for that particular book.
As you can see, there are a lot of tasks and a lot of people working together to bring a book to its publication date, and all must work together like a well-oiled machine. My main responsibility is to make this happen.
2. How much say do your authors have in the book cover design?
Some authors have no say in the cover design, others have some say. According to our contract the publisher has final say. I play this by ear depending on the book and the author. Honestly, for me, a lot has to do with how much experience the author has in the business of selling and marketing books. Because I am a small independent publisher I have the freedom to communicate with the author about the creation of their books, to hear where they are coming from. I may not always agree from a marketing standpoint, and may not always do it exactly their way, but I always want to consider the author’s opinions. I want the author to be happy about his or her book and how it looks especially when he or she is out there selling books at signing events. A happy author is more likely to be a confident author who will have better sales and the greatest possible success.
3. What marketing/promotion do you expect an author to do?
I expect the author to do a preliminary marketing plan. I will collaborate with them to flesh it out. I have an author questionnaire that helps them to identify markets and offer up press information for our future use. I expect my authors to book a minimum of 30 signing events in a six month period following the book’s publication date.
I will support their efforts in several ways. I will create a book signing request form letter for them to use, an industry fact sheet about the book, and will provide them with bookstore leads and book events, such as book fairs and craft fairs, for them to pursue. Once their events are confirmed I will send cover art and head shots for poster design to the event coordinator, and to the media supporting the event. If necessary, I will create poster art.
4. What is your favorite promotion story?
Lin Stepp launched her Smoky Mountain Series first novel “The Foster Girls” aboard a Tennessee River Steamboat. It will be hard to top that but we have two books coming out that may make my favorite promotion story a difficult one. The first, “The Wind in the Woods” by Rose Senehi will be launched at the new Fire Fly Cove Inn in Lake Lure which replaced the first inn that burned down. The location is famous because it’s where they shot the movie Dirty Dancing. This is being sponsored by the Friends of the Library and will have a huge turnout of residents from 3 nearby towns. Another possibility for favorite contender must be the launch of “Women of True Grit” by Edie Hand and Tina Savas. It will take place in Arlington, Virginia at the Women in Military Service Memorial Museum this March 19th during Women’s History Month. Of the 40 famous contributors like Meredith Vieira of The Today Show and Who Wants to be A Millionaire, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Barbara Mandrell, many will be in attendance at the launch. This event has already led to future appearances for the authors like spots on The Today Show and CBS Morning Show. So, I am very excited about that. We have been truly blessed with some awesome promotional opportunities!
5. Authors are expected to have a polished manuscript before submission. What tips do you suggest?
I would recommend at the very least a small, maybe five-or six-member, nurturing critique group. I would not depend on the opinions of family members. If time allows the author should take a creative writing course; if not, they should read some of the many books on self-editing. If they can afford a professional editor, that would be great but they should make sure the editor has experience in the kind of book they are writing. Someone who edits mainly non-fiction or academic journals may not be up on the ever-changing trends of fiction.
6. What is your favorite story about finding an author to publish?
My favorite story has to be meeting Edie Hand (actually she sought me out). We met at a SIBA conference. I was there on behalf of the publishing company and promoting their inspirational author, Lila Hopkins and her new release, “The Master Craftsman”. Edie stopped by our booth to chat. She was there to promote her first inspirational novella “The Last Christmas Ride”. We seemed to hit it off as the cliché goes, and she gave me a signed copy to take home. I remember being impressed with her energy and the fact that she was leaving the next morning for an appearance on The Today Show. A year later I received a call out of the blue from Edie asking if I remembered her. I was flattered when she said she remembered me, especially my enthusiasm in promoting Lila’s book. Then she mentioned that she and her co-author Jeffery Addison were ready to publish the 2nd and 3rd books in the The Ride Series (the first book having sold 26,000 copies in the first 6 weeks) and asked if I’d like to publish them. Edie herself is a very inspirational person and it was challenging keeping a calm head while talking to her. But long story short was, YES, we did!
7. Why did you start a publishing company, especially in this recession?
There were many reasons. Primarily, I have a passion for the business, and I had solicited some super authors who depended on me to get their books published. Those same authors were disappointed, as was I, when I was told by the owner of my former publishing company that he was not going to publish the books after all because he was retiring. As well, out of necessity, I needed a job, and I’d worked months on a publishing business plan (which I have since fine-tuned) to bring a publishing company profitable. So, if not their company, then mine. I believed I could do it in spite of the economy.
8. What is your publishing background?
When my husband and I decided that he would semi-retire and we would move full-time to the Boone area of North Carolina, I decided to phase-out my profitable travel business and open a used bookstore. I always loved reading and writing, and I wanted a break from the often chaotic and sporadic travel business. When the used bookstore didn’t take off as anticipated due to the economic climate in Boone, shortly after, I closed the store and looked for another job. My publishing background is an evolution of my sales and business background. Over the years I’d sold everything from commercial interiors, advertising, accounting systems, and travel related products. When you’re in sales, you must learn about the product and the particular industry that produces the product inside-out and upside-down, as well as knowing the competition in order to be successful. So, this is how I approached Publishing when I was hired as Sales & Operations Manager in October 2003 with High Country Publishers now known as Ingalls Publishing Group. I fell in love with the business of promoting authors and their books while calling on bookstores and gift stores. For the first four years, I provided sales support to the distributor and authors, sold consignment sales locally, and handled the related accounting. Due to a management change and lack of staff during my last year with the company, I was asked to take on more of the actual publishing responsibilities and I found that I loved helping to bring a book to birth from conception to launch. It’s kind of like a doctor who helps a parent bring their baby into the world. It’s quite rewarding. In the end I worked hard to create a comprehensive business plan and find the talented authors that would help support the plan. I’ve learned many things by trial and error and even trial by fire. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn, you’re not as likely to make the same mistakes twice.
9. In the publishing industry, authors generally receive 10% of sales which breaks down to less than a dollar a book. How does that work?
Only some bookstores pay 60%. They are the ones that have 30-60 day billing terms and are buying books on a returnable basis. Some stores who are willing to buy on a non-returnable basis will get a 50% discount, and then there are wholesalers and chain buyers who might get an even larger discount. For the sake of argument, let’s say the average discount is 55% paid to distributor. Let’s say that a distributor sells a book that retails for $15.00 and receives payment from the store or wholesale buyer of $8.25. The distributor will then deduct their commission about 35% of receipts and pay the publisher 65% of receipts. So the publisher receives $5.36 for the book. Even though the distributor will deduct storage fees, and misc. delivery and handling charges from the publishers overall payment on all books paid, royalties are still paid on the Gross receipts, the $5.36. If an author receives a 10% royalty of Gross net receipts that would mean, the author receives $.54 for that sale.
10. How do e-books fit into your publishing picture?
I believe Amazon now pays 70% (recent development to compete with e-competitors). I haven’t done one yet. I am waiting for direction from our distributor, John F. Blair Publishers, who is test marketing through several sites on our behalf. They release their first one this month. There is still a lot of controversy surrounding ebook distribution, pricing, rights and royalties. I’m waiting for it to shake out a bit more so when I do one, I’ll know better what I’m doing. An ebook needs its own ISBN, and all the same set ups as a hardcopy book, so it’s not something that should be just thrown out there just because it’s easy to set up in .pdf form.
11. How do we link to Canterbury Publishing catalog to purchase your books?
On our website you will find information about our books, where to purchase them, announcements and news about the authors, pages for booksellers help, and author help with submission guidelines. You can also subscribe to our announcements newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about Canterbury House Publishing, Ltd., visit our website: www.canterburyhousepublishing.com
12. Tell us about your own novel.
“Hera’s Revenge” is the first novel in a travel mystery series that will be released in the Spring of 2011. Here’s the hook: When an airport employee turns up dead in baggage claim upon their arrival in Athens, the Pinkerton Travel Group gets off to a rocky start. How far will travel agent, Yvonne Suarez, go to keep her travel clients safe and her tour on track?David Ludlow needs a vacation from his stressful job, and this itinerary to the land of mythology, Greek philosophers and early democrats was just the ticket to a leisurely escape, until grumpy passengers, missing museum art, and deathly accidents plagued his journey. Will Yvonne’s fear of losing control stand in the way of solving these crimes? Who among her travel companions can she trust? Is David using Yvonne and her tour to solve his own dangerous mystery? Find the answers to these questions in the first novel in the new Yvonne Suarez Travel Mystery series.