Who’s At The Controls? You Might Be Surprised

Today I got an email from an unhappy reader because the copy of Sunset Bridge she bought was missing significant pages.  Unfortunately this was the fourth or fifth email of its kind in the past few weeks.  Clearly somewhere along the way a small batch of that title, the final of three in my Happiness Key series, went awry.  The printing press got the hiccups, or the persons operating it did. Most likely there are a few more copies floating around still to be discovered. 

Most of the readers who’ve emailed me have suggested I might be able to fix this for them.  Short of flying to a reader’s house and inserting typed pages where the missing pages should be, of course I can’t really  ‘”fix it”.  Nor can I afford to buy another book and mail it, or use one of my limited author copies and pay the postage (although I certainly have).   The good news?  There was something I could do.

I notified my publisher about the problem, and they, bless them, will do whatever they can to make it right. Printing and selling books (not writing them) is their business.  Had the reader contacted Mira Books directly, her solution might have been even quicker, but are readers expected to know this?  Nope.  There I was, right on the Internet, and after all, my name’s on the cover.  I would have emailed me, as well.

So many people are involved in the publishing of a novel (traditional publishing) that I think it’s time to explain who does what before a book arrives at your favorite bookstore.    The book biz is multifaceted, with many people involved.  By the time a book finds its way into your hands, it’s been “handled” by pros of all kinds, author, literary agent, line editor, copy editor, public relations and promotion teams, cover artists, proofreaders, sales team, buyers at chains and indie bookstores, booksellers and cashiers.  A complicated business, right? 

This is a bare-bones-basic list, and of course, there are things I haven’t listed.  Publisher in this instance means anyone who works for the company who decides to put the book in print. You’ll get the idea.

The Author Controls (before and during completion of the book):

  • The initial story idea, characters and setting
  • How many changes, if any, she is willing to make in the initial idea to sell it
  • The quality of her prose–give or take editorial changes
  • The telling of the story–give or take editorial suggestions
  • Deadlines, and if she’s going to make them (deadlines being very much on my mind right now)
  • Contracts and royalty payments she is willing to agree to

The Author Also Controls (after completion) :

  • How much, if any, promotion she is willing to do
  • How many editorial changes she is willing to accept
  • How much of a fuss she will make about covers and cover copy

The Publisher Controls:

  • Which authors’ books they will buy and how many copies they will put on bookshelves
  • The final product, the look, the format, the font and font size, the author or review quotes chosen inside and out, etc.
  • Printing of the book and the numbers in print
  • Distribution
  • Which authors they will promote to help get them on bestseller lists
  • Which authors will represent the publisher to the public

That’s just a sampling, but what about readers?  What do readers control?  Well, this blog is long enough.  That’s a blog unto itself.  So look for it soon.  In the long run, readers have the most control of all, and how well you use it determines which books you’ll see at your favorite bookstore. 

Missing a few pages can be easily rectified.  But missing books you really want to read?  Nobody can control that except you.

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