Hi there and welcome to the third and last part of my short series on getting a book deal. Just to refresh your memory, a while ago, I was contacted by a representative from PACKT Publishing who offered me a book deal. This has led to a number of interesting revelations including this short series where I’m sharing my thoughts and insights.
- How does getting a book deal happen.
- Types of book deals.
- How to get noticed.
- How is the work process itself constructed.
- Focus on templates for everything.
- The schedule.
- How do you make money on a book deal.
- Building your brand.
Since this is the last part, let me list all the things that I’m going to discuss so we can have a handy TOC for the whole series. So, the things you’ll find here:
- The editing process.
- Extra skills needed.
- How long does it take to have the book in your hand.
- Is it actually difficult to write for a publisher?
The editing process
Although my experience is only with one publisher so far, I can safely assume that the situation should be very similar with other firms as well. Mainly, as their author, you will be working with a handful of editors and not just a single person.
Here’s how the whole writing and editing process works:
First, you have to create a first draft for a given chapter. This should be a complete product, which means that you must include anything that is needed (e.g. images, screenshots and what not). For programming-related topics, the same thing goes with source codes. In short, everything should be compiled into a standalone product – a complete chapter. This chapter goes to your editor who will make sure that the document has been created in accordance with the style guide of the company.
Next, your work will be either handled by the same editor or sent to a completely different person for language editing. Finally, when the writing process approaches completion, a technical editor will take your work and start putting it together to form the final publication.
Now the best part… at any stage of this process, you can get an email with some feedback and requests to change something. And this can be anything from clarifying some specific parts of the chapter, updating the images, correcting the source code used, to improving the use of the editorial template, etc.
In the end, what this means is that you’ll go through a multiple editing process. On one side, it can take a lot of time before you can finally call it a chapter. But on the other side, it makes the final publication a really quality product.
Of course, you can always deliver a proper chapter in your first draft to avoid all the back and forth…
Extra skills needed
I know that this closely depends on the specific topic and type of book you’re working on. But for computer/IT/programming/internet -related topics, you do need a set of additional skills except writing itself.
For my particular book, no one’s ever asked me if I have any Photoshop or graphics software skills, they just assumed that I do. (Lucky me that the assumption is correct because as it turns out, various screenshots and graphically designed website elements are an integral part of this book.)
Not to mention, the required advanced proficiency with MS Word. And I do mean, advanced…these chapter templates can be quite complex and you have to follow them to the letter.
Furthermore, I’m sure that there’s a hell lot of other extra skills that you’d need when writing a book in different areas of expertise than mine. And this goes even for fiction writers. For instance, if you’re writing a novel about a serial killer in an 18th century setting in England then you better know what was the English language like back then.
To give you a more niche example, if your publication is “Learn to Play the Guitar Over the Weekend” then you’ll need a proper methodological approach at teaching people, which can only be learned through experience. The examples are endless, but I’m sure you get the point.
The draft-to-complete-book time span
So how long does it take to get your book into bookstores?
The answer is slightly a bummer. However, you’ve probably expected that the whole process would take a while.
Of course, this again depends on the type of writing you do. But in most cases, it’s about 8-9 months from when you send the first draft of the first chapter to seeing your book on the shelf in a local bookstore.
For novels and non-fiction, the long time span is not a problem. But for tech-related topics, it can be. What if, for example, you’re writing a book on Google Reader (just a basic guide for beginners on how to use it) and all of a sudden, Google announces that the tool will go down? Well, you simply lose the deal and there’s not much you can do about it.
Therefore, I have one very specific piece of advice for you. When working on your book, complete the final draft as quickly as possible (of course, without compromising the quality). Lengthening the process just for the heck of it can be outright dangerous.
The big question: Is it difficult?
So I’ve waited the whole three parts of this series to answer this question.
In short: Writing for a big publishing company is much easier than it might seem.
Firstly, you are obviously not the first writer the publisher has worked with. So by now, they have a whole range of methods, schedule models, and templates that are simply effective for both sides (them and you).
Moreover, the editors are always highly experienced people who have made their careers out of working with writers. They understand how the writing process happens and are among the first people willing to help you in case of any issue.
Basically, when you encounter any problem during your work, the first person you need to reach out to is your editor. Especially when it comes to moving deadlines a couple of days.
In the end, we have to remember that it’s the publisher’s job to make our work as straightforward as possible. The more comfortable the writer feels, the better the finished product will be.
Okay, let’s call it a series! That’s everything I had to share about my first book deal. I hope it’s going to be a handy resource when you’re working on your first book deal too.
P.S. Do you have any questions I could help you with? Feel free to ask them here.
Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer. To get in touch, pay him a visit at newInternetOrder.com or his personal hub-site – karol.cc. Currently, he’s been rolling out a series of resource pages on various topics related to online business, like this one on the essentials of being an online entrepreneur.