Thursday, March 29, 2018

Birthing a Book (Part 3)

dontravis.com blog post #278

In the last two posts, we gave birth to our literary baby, began raising it (sometimes a him and sometimes a her, depending upon my whim) in the proper way and found either an agent (a babysitter) or a publisher (a kindergarten). This week, I’d like to expose you to the most exacting and satisfying treatment by a publisher I’ve ever experienced. Dreamspinner Press and its imprint DSP Publications have both published some of my work. I’m so impressed, I want to share their procedure for bringing my books to market. By the way, they are interested in BLGT work only.

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Our Baby Book All Grown Up
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay
Okay, now we've gone through the labor process, given birth to our book, and had her take baby steps by locating a literary agent and/or a publisher. Big sigh of relief, right? It’s over.

No, my friend, it’s just started. As noted earlier, I’ve had four publishers in my career, but none of them approach the professionalism of my present publisher, Dreamspinner Press. I’d like to take you through the way they handle their authors.

Once my work has been accepted by Dreamspinner or it’s imprint, DSPPublications, an online contract is offered. To accept, I execute it electronically, and then the dance begins.

In rapid order, I receive a Production Data Collection (PDC) form, a Cover Specifications Request, a Blurb Composition Questionnaire, and a Bio Request.

The Data Collection form provides the publisher with my legal name, pen name, gives contact information, advises of the Word Processing program I used, informs DSP if I have “fair use” (copyrighted) material in the book, and establishes if this is a part of a series (standalone? Read first to last, etc), is a first edition or a reprint, and determines the book’s genre. It also sets out any optional front matter (acknowledgments, author’s note, dedication, etc.).

The Cover Specifications allows me to give any suggestions for the cover art. In order to do this, I give the artist the primary plot points, describe the lead characters, and picture the cover of my dreams. The publisher sends cover art samples as a PDF to give me a feel for the types of covers available. I pick one or two that appeal to me, and from that, Dreamspinner assigns me an artist to work with. Maria Fanning has done all of my covers, which is a great help. We know one another now, so it doesn’t take much time to settle on an approach. She will give me three suggested covers, from which I can select one with which to work. Then we will email one another and discuss ideas until the final cover emerges.

Dreamspinner’s staff is far more skilled at doing a blurb for the book than I am. The Blurb composition questionnaire lets me summarize the story for the blurb editors, describe the main characters, and set the tone of the book (wistful, sweet, funny, dark, typical plot mystery, etc.). Finally, I take a stab at a sample blurb before they set to work performing their magic.

The bio report asks me to create a micro bio (short, pithy) and an author’s bio for the publication. I put the usual dry history down, and they turn me into a human, not a robot.

Then comes the edit… or more accurately, the edits. My head editor is Anne Regan, who lives in the Dallas area. She selects three different editors for three successive edits of the book, each looking for something different. The first edit is accompanied by Global Notes that gives Anne’s overall view of the book, pointing out faults as well as highlighting strong points. These may or may not be noted on the Track Changes accompanying the first edit. They are for me to address on my own, not by prompts in specific places.

Editor #1 then goes through the manuscript word by word and uses the track changes program to give comments. I address each one, accepting or rejecting as I see fit… giving a reason when I reject. Upon review by the head editor, the reworked manuscript is given to Editor #2, who generally has a different skill set. For my first two books, my second editor was David, a 29-year Phoenix police officer and karate black belt, who kept me straight on police procedures and machismo issues with my hero, BJ Vinson. Sadly, he developed health issues, and I lost his invaluable services. The third edit is generally mostly for style and grammar. Please note, at least one of these three editors will fact-check historical or current event details in the book. If I tie the reader to a particular time-period with music, movies, newspaper reports, etc., they’ll tell me when I get it wrong and why.

After the final edit, I receive a Galley Proof to review. They will only change this one if I find typos, omitted words, and the like.

Once the book is put to bed and a release date settled, DSP contacts some professional literary sites and arranges for me to guest post a blog about the book. There are usually four or five of these, and most will do a review of the book upon its release.

Then it’s up to me to self-promote and try to sell books… something at which I suck!

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Well, that’s it. I hope I was able to enlighten you on this birth and maturation process. By the way, I have started the sixth book in the BJ Vinson process. Next week, I hope to give you a sample of The Voxlightner Scandal.

In the meantime: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


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