In a splendiferous and fantasmagorical event, Louise Park - author, educator, publisher and publishing consultant - took SCBWI Members through a one-hour whirlwind session entitled BEHIND THE BOOK. The session was designed to make it easier for authors and illustrators to navigate the publishing process and was jam-packed with useful information about what happens to a manuscript when it goes to a publishing house.
With an enthusiasm and excitement for the industry that was only matched by her impressive dance moves at the SCBWI Dinner later that night, Louise talked about distribution channels, the importance of sales data and exactly what happens to a manuscript when it goes through the acquisitions process. She gave a truly fabulous overview of the costs involved in bringing a book to life and I'm sure I was not the only one surprised by the level of financial investment involved. No wonder publishers take time to consider each manuscript carefully before committing!
My big takeaway from the session was the importance of thinking about where a manuscript fits in the marketplace even before it is submitted. Questions to ask include:
- What is my target audience?
- What other titles might the reader of my book read?
- What is my point of difference?
- How might someone discover my book?
These questions will be asked during the acquisitions process anyway, so there is the potential to strengthen the submission if these issues are addressed by the author in the cover letter. Most importantly, it will give authors a clearer understanding of exactly where their manuscript fits within the current publishing landscape and give them an opportunity to refine their work until it is simply irresistible! Then we can get on with the important work of signing those contracts and celebrating.