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Publishing 101

Posted on March 24th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Are you guys reading the posts that Alex Bracken puts up explaining different parts of the publishing process? Sometimes I feel like I should talk about publishing more than I do, since I work in the industry and (you would think) have some insights (I have a whole Publishing tag I don’t even use!), but mainly I just think Alex does it much better than I can or would and I leave it to her. Plus I’m not totally sure I have any insights. Today she put up a post about launch that does a good job of draining the process of some of its mystery.

I have to admit, launch is one of my favorite parts of working in publishing, for a couple of reasons. First of all: I don’t have to do anything. I work in Marketing, and Marketing plays a much larger part in the publishing process than anybody really realizes, so even if I’m not attending or presenting at a meeting, I’m often pulling together last minute information or providing marketing bullets for various decks that my bosses have to present (all of the Marketing big wigs were off site at sales conference this week and even then I was still getting emails with questions–the work is never finished!). But when it comes to launch, I just get to sit back and relax and be presented to, which is pretty sweet.

Second of all, it’s like going to the movies and seeing the coming attractions. There was actually an editor who devoted the end of her presentation to telling us what we were going to see on future 2012 launches, which I loved. Even though I love my job most days and love the books I work on, after working on them for a year you start itching for new blood–What’s the cover of this sequel going to look like? Or what’s this awesome author’s new book going to be about? I basically stalk the place on the server where editorial puts all the launch manuscripts for weeks before launch to see what they’re going to post and come up with my totally OCD list of the order in which I’m going to read them. (However, true to form, I’ve only read one two launch manuscripts so far…my list includes like eight.) Plus I like to hear what Sales has to say–they’re always very vocal and full of opinions and the discussion is really interesting, at least if you’re a total publishing nerd like me. I always learn a lot at launch, or at least find out I have a lot of questions I didn’t know I needed answered. Like: what is a planogram? Account reps for mass market channels say it all the time and I’ve never found the right moment to pull one of them aside and ask what that is. Except I just Wiki’d it and now I don’t have to.

The part of the process where I become involved is Marketing brainstorming, which happens about a month post-launch. At my company all the Marketing folks have a series of meetings in which we all get together and come up with marketing plans for titles on the list. Even though this requires me to think, I love brainstorming. I really like my coworkers and it’s fun for all of us to talk about books, especially new books! I usually read a lot more manuscripts for brainstorming than for launch, mostly because I’ve had more time. Marketing plans go through a near-infinite series of refining stages–when they leave Marketing brainstorming, they’re just rough drafts–but it’s a great place to come up with crazy ideas, like sky writing or getting an Essie nail polish named after a character or pursuing a partnership with Capri Sun or whatever.

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