5 Things I Learned as a Publisher Last Year
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I’m a writer. That has always been my slogan since AL. Mabry and I started Our Write Side. We want to do all the things, however, so publishing books for other authors became the next logical step. Sometimes, life gets in the way of dreams.
Sometimes, despite the very best of intentions, things don’t go the way you want them to.
Yes, even in the publishing world. You already know your characters never behave the way you want them to, so why should your book when it gets in the hands of anyone else?
After publishing six books last year before Heidi Angell joined us and took over as publishing director, I have some things to share.
The Importance of Formatting
You might think formatting isn’t all the difficult, but you must know that taking your words from the standard page size and changing them to fill a book isn’t as easy as you think. There are plenty of templates out there to help, like this post from Heidi Angell, but the bottom line is if you don’t know anything about formatting, there are a lot of mistakes you can make. These mistakes can cause production to slow down, release dates to change, and unintentionally stress out the author. It wasn’t until the latter end of 2017 that I began experimenting with styling in books because I had so many issues with formatting before. Smashwords hated this. CreateSpace hated that. The fonts are not embedded. (Yes, I like having a variety of fonts to make each book different, tie it in with it’s genre). The margins are incorrect. Orphans and widows can be found. Ay yi yi.
But, I did it. And I discovered I love doing it. Spending my days designing a book from cover to cover excite me as much as writing the last word of a story. It’s insufferable. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s joy and goodness at the same time. It’s one of those “I did that” moments that rock my world.
This year I learned how to format any size book, using decorations, dividers, and opening pages. I also learned how important it is to have something properly formatted in the first place. It is extra work if I have to change the spacing before I can even begin. Follow those guidelines!
Smiles can be heard in email
Yes. You read that right. There’s something uniquely special about telling an author you want to publish their book or their story. Their joy spills through the keyboard and onto their typing and flows into the email. It is a very loud expression, this joy, one that makes the dragonflies bounce around in my belly and fly up my esophagus and flit away in the air when I open my mouth.
It’s that baby bouncing impatiently on your lap. It’s the puppy jumping all over you after a long day of work. It’s wonderful.
I literally live for these moments.
Sometimes, though, I have to say “no.”
This year I learned to toughen up and say “no.” I don’t like it anymore than they do, but our quality and reputation is at stake. We’ve worked too hard to get to this point to let soft-hearted little old me insist on publishing something that really isn’t worthy of our company just because.
I promise I like you, I really do. And please, for the love of all things writing, do not get offended when we reject your work. Fix it up, make it better, and resubmit it. We want you at your best and don’t settle for anything less.
Publishing is as hard as writing
There, I said it.
At this point, I’m fully convinced there are no shortcuts, no easy ways out to anything in the writing world.
It also means I am even more resolved to own my own printing press someday and print my own books!
Putting the book together is probably the easiest part once you find the perfect setup that works for you and every book regardless of size. It’s dealing with the companies that makes everything much more complicated than it should be. Just trust that your publisher earns every drop of commission they take from you!! Publishing is NOT for the weak at heart.
In 2017, I learned that I am much more than a writer. I am an author advocate, ready and willing to help authors reach success. I learned that I am tough enough, determined enough, and now, experienced enough to be a successful part of the publishing team.
Most authors are eager to write better
Editing is a risky game. I say this because you never know how any author will take your suggestions and criticism. Fortunately, most of the authors we worked with this past year took the suggestions well, some even going a bit farther in fixing the suggestions and making their stories even stronger than before.
There’s so much that goes around about needing a tough skin. While I know several authors who could stand to toughen up a bit and also realize not everyone will take your suggestions with the good intent you meant them in, I don’t necessarily agree with the whole thick skin anymore. Give the right feedback in the right way every time and most authors are very receptive to giving it consideration.
This year I learned that editing is only successful in how you approach each author. I also learned that editing is not a one size fits all ability. Every author should be paired up with the right kind of editor, every time. I’m happy to learn that most authors out there are sincere in learning to write better and many of them take the suggestions offered and change their writing overall.
Publishers get a bad rap.
So many naysayers out there. It is discouraging. But, I use that negativity as par for the course and turn into a positive that motivates me to be the difference. We are human too, and far from perfect, but I sincerely hope that the OWS Ink difference in how we treat our authors is apparent enough to speak for itself.
2017 has been a year of incredible growth. Some of it happened a lot faster than we expected. Some knocked us off our feet and set us in a panic. Some came slow-roasted and delicious once we found the right person to complete our executive team.
I’m quite sure I’m guilty of at least one thing a publisher should never do, but despite the mistakes, I’m proud of how far I’ve come, how far OWS Ink has come, and how bright 2018 looks from this view.
Tell me, what 5 things did you learn this year about yourself as a writer, publisher, designer? Share your life lessons in the comments.
Stephanie Ayers is a speculative fiction author with a knack for twisting tales. You can find her books and stories on Amazon. You can find her book cover designs and design portfolio, along with her personal thoughts and product reviews on her website.
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