The Five People You Meet in Publishing

I’m a huge fan of Mitch Albom’s work, so I hope you’ll forgive me for the play on words for one of his more famous titles. The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of my favorite books, so consider this my attempt at being cute. It’s not working, I know.

So without further ado, here are the five people you meet in publishing.

The Dedicated Editor: This editor knows Chicago backwards and forwards. This editor is a fan of the serial comma, but has a thing against em dashes. This professional is so ruthlessly diligent ¬†about correcting errors that the author’s voice gets sucked out by force and wrung out to dry. Stay far away from this editor.

The Overwhelmed Book Reviewer: This book reviewer has an arduous task: they have to review more books than humanly possible. This book reviewer has to review all of the best sellers (even though the most important editors got the galleys months before) and they love books but hate reviewing the same stuff that everyone else has read. You are sure your writing is much better than even number 100 on the best-seller list, but yours won’t get read: there just isn’t enough time. The minute this reviewer hears you are an author with a book coming out, nature calls and the reviewer escapes. Foiled again!

The Hopeful Literary Agent: This person truly believes in your work. However, as a literary agent, reasons must be given why your beautiful manuscript must be hacked apart and changed so that it can be marketed. There isn’t a market for your book now, but if you change most of it, there might be a chance at it getting picked up by a big-name publisher. This literary agent secretly sends you a short sticky note saying that your work is impressive even if it can’t be placed. You appreciate the gesture and hold onto that note in your scrapbook as validation that you are an amazing author.

The Eager Graphic Designer: Yes, a book cover can be designed at a low, low price! The turnaround is really fast. You examine a really long array of colorful book covers and decide that none of them quite meet your needs. Upon closer examination, out of the three hundred book cover designs, there are only thirty-five distinct book titles. Apparently, the previous authors didn’t like the selection either.

The Very Busy Printer: No, your file must be submitted in PDF format. The margins for this file are all wrong. Did you do this in Microsoft Word? Your graphic designer didn’t leave a bleed around the edges, so the artwork will get cut off if it isn’t corrected. Your color saturation is at 475%, but it has to be under 240% or the laminate won’t stick. You asked for cream-colored paper, but the measurements for this file are set to white-colored paper. Oops, sorry a rush order just came in. Get back to me, will ya?

Perhaps this is a tad exaggerated.

Who is the most memorable person you’ve met in publishing? What advice/comments did they give you?


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