Friday, August 9, 2013

In the background


Michael W. Davis

Many outside the publishing world may not realize the depth of talent bought to bear to get a story from concept to release. It’s not just the author involved in creating the fictional world. May be different for other publishers and authors but for my books here’s a sample of the breath of “hands” involved from creation to putting it in the stores.

1.     Critiques – once you’ve reviewed and proofed yourself twenty times, and before you submit to the publisher, you send to a critique group to provide input on your Manuscript (MS). I have four talented individuals I’ve selected over the last six years with different skill sets. Two are technical (like myself) and avid readers, one is a retired tech writer, and one is an actual editor. All are comfortable with beating the crude out of script and tossing a pint of blood front to back.

2.     Submission reviewer – Before I get a contract, my MS goes to a group within the publisher that reviews the draft and assesses if it’s “publishable” material AND original enough to be of interest. On three of eighteen works I’ve submitted, I was required to go back and do major rewrites so just being published before is not an automatic check mark to get through the door.

3.     Contract – About two months from submittal I receive a contract plus a request to complete a bundle of material to support marketing (including ideas for covers). Note this has taken as long as five months depending on publisher workload.

4.     Content Editor – If the MS makes it, about 2-3 months before release date (which is roughly twelve months from submittal) I receive a marked up edited version from the content editor (focusing on readability, consistency, structure and compliance with in house and accepted writing protocols.)

5.     Line editor – Once the CE is satisfied (which usually takes three cycles) they pass to the line editor. I have no idea what they do given I’ve never interacted with them, but I believe its associated with formatting the MS for release to various outlets.

6.     Artwork – About 3-5 weeks before release I get a sample of the cover art.

7.     Errata – Between two and four weeks before publication I receive the galley version to which I must read every word to insure no typos slipped through all the eyes that touched the MS, plus no format errors have been induced by the conversion software. I send back the errata (correction) sheet and that’s it, the last time I get to view the produce before it’s released.

8.     Reviewers – There’s one more step and set of eyes that peruse the book, the reviewers. They are independent groups or organizations that evaluate the quality and enjoy-ability of stories in selected genres, then provide their candid opinion. Sources of reviews come from both the publisher themselves and sites I send to and request my work be reviewed.

Do all those fingers and eyes touching your projects before its released surprise ya? I know it did me. I had no idea how many talented individuals molded and lent their experience to improve the quality of your work.


Big Mike said...

Sorry everyone. I set this to go live at 1 AM, but in two weeks. Boy oh boy. Least I was only 13 hours late, not like a whole day (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

You're forgiven. Great as usual.

Rhobin Lee Courtright said...

After all the critiques and self editing, I'm always appalled at what I missed. Thank God for good editors.

Big Mike said...

Yeah, Rhobin, I agree. First ten stories I too was appalled. Next ten I accepted its part of the human brain to fill in mistakes as an attempt to help us, when in this application it hurts us. I generally have seven pairs of eyes critique/edit and STILL find typos after its released.

I have learned one trick that helps. For the errata, after I've read one last time, I go back and slowly scan each paragraph backwards. That way the brain doesn't know what the word is suppose to be to fit the sentence, rather just that it doesn't fit as a word at all. Time consuming but you'd be surprised what you catch.

I also do a global search of of bad words that always get fouled (like there, their, they're, here, hear, insure, ensure, etc). Sure, takes time, but its worth it.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)