How does the publishing process go?

One of GenZ’s most awesome interns, Kelly, asked me a great question today: “How does the publishing process go?”

For anyone else curious about how all this works, here is my answer to her…

As for the rest of the publishing process…this is how it goes: The author send us a query letter with the synopsis of the book and a few sample chapters. I usually read it and determine if I would like to read the rest. If so, I email the author and ask for the completed manuscript. If not, I email them and say that their manuscript is not right for GenZ right now (always the hardest part.) Once they send me their complete manuscript, I read through it and either send them a congratulations email with a contract or an email saying that their manuscript is not right for GenZ right now (possibly even harder than the last hard part haha). *Perhaps in the future I can send you some queries and you can give me your opinion on who to publish/not publish. I base the decision on their message, writing quality, and how well their book will fit in with GenZ…and sometimes other factors. For example, we already have a vampire book published, so if someone came to me with another vampire book, I probably would not be able to publish it, no matter how good it is.
Then, I will check with the author to make sure that this manuscript is their final version. That is when the editing process begins. Depending on the quality of the grammar, I will sometimes just begin editing myself, or sometimes I will send it to an editor to work on before I go through it. Then, once the grammar and story are in good shape, I send it to someone like you to a) make sure we didn’t miss anything in editing (this is why a book must be edited multiple times) b) beta read and tell us what you think so that we may know what our readers will think. After you go through the book, I send it back to the author. He or she will go through the edits and make necessary changes. Although, I do tell them that many notes are suggestions, and it is up to their discretion what they implement.
Once the author has made their revisions, I go through the book one last time to make sure there is nothing else that we missed. Meanwhile, I ask the author is he or she has any preferences for the cover. Depending upon his or her answer is how the cover is created. If they have a strong idea, I work with it. If not, I come up with an idea for it. I have a few different cover artists (with different styles for different genres). I tell them the cover idea and they work on a draft. We show the author and he or she approves or comes up with changes that they would like in it (usually they need a few changes to match the image in their head.) Once the cover is created and the book is revised, it is time for formatting. I usually do this myself (when you have worked on as many books as I have, it becomes easier to do this yourself rather than to try to explain what needs to be formatted to someone else. Formatting entails table of contents, headings, page numbers, fonts, margins, bleed…all that fun stuff that separates a professional book from a document. However, about 25% of the time, there will be some sort of issue with files (when you have this many people going through a doc, you are bound to run into some issues), so then I hire someone to help format. Once they are finished formatting, it is time to make the proof.
I input all necessary information online for the book and check out the virtual proof. If the virtual proof looks good, I get the author’s address and mail out a physical copy to him or her. Usually the author will find a minor issue or two, so I go back to their doc, make the necessary changes, and reupload the proof. Then, I schedule the book for pre-order, post the link on our website and social media, and email the author to tell him or her that they can now get copies for signings and readings (which I often help them book). We usually have the book on pre-order for a month or two, depending on our schedule. During that time, I usually either write or ask an intern like yourself to write a press release about the book that we can use to promote the book on social media, in ads, on our website, etc. Sometimes we also make promotional videos, pictures, and more. Then, release day comes, and everyone is so excited. We continue to promote that book, along with all our other books, throughout the year. And that is how a book becomes a book, Kelly. 🙂
-Morissa Schwartz
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