4 Things You Don’t Know About Traditional Publishing Until You’re In It

To all you aspiring authors out there doing research about what’s in your future: this post is for you.

It’s hard to know what your traditional publishing path is going to look like until you’re in it. Lucky for you, three of my wonderful authors (with books coming out this summer) share their wisdom about what the publishing process has been like for them. Read on for the specifics about patience, publicity and more…

faking perfect mechanicalFrom Rebecca Phillips, author of forthcoming FAKING PERFECT (Kensington Teen 2015)

I didn’t anticipate the incredible amount of time and detail involved in traditional publishing. You have all these different people working with you to make your book the best it can be. It takes a long time, and you need a lot of patience, but it’s an amazing experience overall.

SecretsLakeRoad_cover_hi resFrom Karen Katchur, author of forthcoming THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Books 2015)

The biggest thing I learned was that copy edits can really mess with your voice. They need to be reviewed carefully and can be almost as hard as content edits. Even the simplest change in verb tense can change the reader’s experience and it may not be for the better. But, (and this is a very big but!), if you’re going to break the grammar rules, you better know why you’re breaking them and your reasons for breaking them better be good.

Maybe In Another Life_FinalFrom Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of forthcoming MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE (Atria 2015)FOREVER, INTERRUPTED and AFTER I DO

The biggest thing that surprised me is how much work goes into publicizing your own book. Writing the novel is only half of your job — making sure people hear about it is the other half.

The other thing I didn’t realize is just how many wonderful friends I’d make. I always thought of being an author as a sort of solitary job but I’ve met some of the most interesting and sincere people through my work. Whether it’s getting to know other authors, meeting interesting agents and editors, or hearing from readers, being an active part of the book community is definitely one of the best perks of the job.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

8 thoughts on “4 Things You Don’t Know About Traditional Publishing Until You’re In It

  1. Congrats to all your authors. Found Karen’s comment about the possible change in voice that an edit can have very interesting and something I never thought about. As a writer who has just gone with a small publisher with my first book, I agree with Taylor–the marketing side of the process is exhausting. Yes, you meet wonderful people along the way–but in the end, I’d rather be writing.


  2. Congratulations to your authors! I was just reading a book that explores both traditional and indie publishing that said something similar about marketing efforts: no matter which route you decide on for publishing your book, you’ll still need to put effort into marketing your book yourself. This seems like a pointer that every published author today could relate to.


  3. I had been thinking about how copy editing and how it can change the voice of a character so it was satisfying to see Karen mention the same thought. I enjoy all of your posts Carly, thank you for being so supportive to all writers not just your clients.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carly, thanks for posting this…the experience of other authors about such things is very useful reading. As regards editing, I had a similar experience, on a much smaller scale, when the Georgia Review accepted one of my stories. I worked closely with two editors-in-chief on the manuscript…the great Stanley Lindberg and his talented successor, Stephen Corey. Both of them offered a wide range of useful suggestions, some broad, some down to the comma. I didn’t accept everything they mentioned–the caution about voice in the post is well-taken–but probably about 90%. The story…and the novel I’m creating from it…are both far stronger as a result of this collaboration.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to get the published writers’ impressions, Carly, I could probably never get enough of this! The big message that was hammered by every speaker at the 2-day Publish15 Conference in Atlanta—by agents, publishers, indie authors, booksellers, marketing managers for big houses and traditionally-published authors—was “Always Be Promoting, Starting Yesterday.” (My paraphrase). Thanks for piling on with your own reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

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