Sunday, February 6, 2011


Working With Your Publisher by Kelley Heckart

Beltaine's Song by Kelley Heckart
Congratulations, a publisher has decided to contract your book. Now you can kick back and savor the moment, right? Think again. Once your book is contracted, the hard work has just begun. There is editing, more editing, filling out forms for the cover design, writing blurbs and telling everyone you know that you have a book coming out. An author has to work with representatives from the publishing company—the Senior Editor, the editor working on the book, the graphic artist designing the book cover, promotions people and accounting personnel that pay royalties. All of these people are there to help the author with the publishing process and one thing needs to be understood—they do not work for the author. They are your partners, working with the author to make the process as smooth as possible.

With e-publishing, this means corresponding with all of these people via email. Communicating via email can be tricky at times. Something meant to be funny might come across as rude. Here are a couple of points to remember:

  • Emails should always be professional. Leave out the emoticons and other unprofessional garbage. Remember that publishing is a business.
  • Always use 'please' and 'thank-you' when writing an email to anyone at the publishing house. These two simple words can go a long way in making publishing life easier even if you, the author, are upset about something.
The one huge mistake that newbie authors make with their publisher is to go in and start ordering people around, thinking that since they are a published author, they are so awesome that everyone must do their bidding. This kind of behavior will likely backfire and the author could end up getting blacklisted. No one wants to work with a difficult author. The publisher's employees are not the author's minions. The relationship between the author and publisher is a partnership. I cannot stress this point enough. If a new author thinks that publishing houses don't get together and talk about problem authors, think again. The publishing world really is a small world.

Another point to remember is to refrain from posting negative things about a publisher online. The first thing a publisher will do before accepting a submission is to Google the author. If they see an author trashing a publisher (it doesn't matter why), they will think that author is unprofessional and difficult to work with. The submission, no matter how great it is, will likely land in the circular file cabinet or the recycle bin on the computer.

Now, I know some people are reading this and saying, "Duh. This is common sense stuff." That's so true, but it still baffles me how many times I have seen an author bury themselves by trash talking a publisher or by being rude to the Senior Editor and making her/him mad. Just remember—an author is not irreplaceable. There are many talented writers out there and guess which ones will have a nice, long writing career and which ones won't?

About the Author:

Kelley Heckart writes Celtic historical romances with fantasy elements. Her stories reflect her passion for history, storytelling and the supernatural. Inspired by the ancient Celts, her tales are filled with fierce warriors, bold women, magic, conflict and romance. Kelley and her books can be found online at

Kelley’s Links: Check out my long hair hotties!


  1. Thanks for visiting, Kelley.

    You are one hundred percent correct in emphasizing that once the writer's book (or story, magazine article, etc.) is writte, the really hard work begins.

    Sitting in front of your computer, pounding the keys into submission, may not seem like the foundation of a business--but it is. Being professional at all times is an absolute must.

    Why do you think some authors feel compelled to "trask talk" others in the publishing industry? Would they do the same with their boss at the office?

    BTW, best of luck with your new book!

  2. Unfortunately, common sense is not all that common and the "obvious" needs to be stated. You just need to watch the deluded on shows like American Idol to see that - when you do, you just know that the ones with the more professional attitude are the ones with the talent.

  3. Amen, Michael.

    On the other hand, many people think that if only they find a shortcut, their lives will be easier. Getting published is hard work, harder than writing, and there simply aren't shortcuts.

    Sure, an occasional writer gets published quickly, but holding out for that is like expecting to win the lottery after you've purchased one ticket.

  4. It is really nice to be reminded of that. Especially the fact that you should leave out smileys and that it might be wise to skip funny parts. I always try to stay professional, but I think everyone needs to be aware of it, too.

    Good luck with your book and thank you Linda for adding more useful tips to the post. I really feel inspired by both your successes.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  5. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for having me again at the Author Exchange.
    I think some writers don't think of writing as a business and think they can act unprofessional. I have a background in working for corporations and maybe that helps keep me grounded and business-like when corresponding with publishers and editors.

    Hi Michael and Nahno,
    Thanks for your comments.

    And Michael, you do make a great point about people not having common sense and/or are deluded about their talents. And a publisher would be more willing to work with a writer that might need a little work, but acts professional than one that acts unprofessional.

  6. You made a good point, Kelley, about publishers wanting to deal more with writers who act professional. Although I'd been published in the insurance industry, magazine, and newspaper, I wasn't published in novel-length fiction/non-fiction when I sought my first publisher.

    They told me one of the deciding factors in offering me a contract was the fact that I already had a website up and running and was marketing/promoting myself as a writer.

    NEVER underestimate the benefits of being professional.

  7. I think as long as I live I'll never understand human nature. Celtic Chick - how right you are (we're with the same publisher, btw - and that's where I saw your link to here,thank you). When I started the submissions circuit I looked at all the publishers' blogs and was amazed at some of the stuff and rubbish they were sent by would-be authors with their submission (chocolates, and much worse!). Now, I hear that authors go about ordering the publishers about...I can't get over it. We're in business here, and like any other business we should be professional. Great post.

  8. Hi Sue,

    Yes, your name sounded familiar and I do remember you. You just had a new release, Perfect Score, at AS.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Wishing you many sales and many years in publishing.

  9. So true how, though something seems perfectly obvious, there are still people who do the very things that will sabotage their career. People seem to forget that the Internet is a very public place, anything you say or post will get around, and it will be up there forever. There's no recalling it when you realize the damage you have done. And sorries sound so lame after the fact.