Without authors, lets face it; we editors wouldn’t have anything to do. Well, we would have something to do because, as sometimes happens, we would have to do the writing ourselves. The point is that authors are very important to the publishing industry. It is also a truth that when people are happy and feel well treated they produce their best work. Therefore making sure your authors are happy is a priority. So in this blog I have highlighted five things that should help a publishing project start off well and hopefully stay on track.
1. Meet up
If you are going to be working with someone for the time it takes for them to write a book, it really helps if you meet them in person. As well as putting a face to a name, it is a great opportunity to build a relationship. You can gauge what sort of working relationship you will need to adopt, what aspects of the authors life will conflict with the writing, what worries they have about the project and the support they need. If you cannot meet the author, make sure you have a telephone conversation.
2. Issue contracts and pay any advances quickly
Writing is often difficult and not well paid; writers worry about what will happen to their work once they have sent it to the publisher. A contract and an advance, if that has been agreed, gives authors confidence that they will be duly recognised and rewarded for their hard work.
3. Provide information
The more the author can share the vision of the publisher the more likely that both will be happy, so give the author as much background information to the project as possible. They need to know the type and depth of content that is required and understand exactly who their audience is. If the author understands constraints, such as page extent, artwork and image budgets etc. before they start writing, it will save a lot of pain later on. If you meet them, you can discuss the brief fully then.
4. Use author’s expertise
Authors know about their subject and are interested in books or they wouldn’t be writing for you. Ask for their views and ideas on features, page design, covers etc. When the finished product seems a long way ahead, having your opinion valued and being able to imagine the finished product is very motivating.
5. Ask authors to write a sample/first chapter
This is a very good way of making sure that your author is committed to the project, can meet deadlines and can write. You will be able to sort out any misunderstandings there are about things like features, style, content and level. Give constructive, positive feedback and make sure that how the author lays out the manuscript and provides artwork or image briefs is going to make it as easy as possible to ready the manuscript for production later on.
Although this content refers to books it can equally be applied to authors of digital content.