What Happens After the Offer (Traditional and Small Press)–Guest Post by Ellen Brock of Musa Publishing

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Boy, do I have another treat for you this week! 😉

Normally, I don’t dive too  much into the publishing side of authorial dreams — I prefer to leave that to the more informed and experienced, such as published authors, literary agents, and/or editors. Sooo…. guess who I have here today? *smile*

Yup, I have an editor visiting with us today: Ellen Brock — the head editor for Euterpe, the YA imprint at Musa Publishing.

By way of my good friend, Susan Sipal (most of you may know her as the genius behind the blog and craft book, Harry Potter for Writers — which is now Myth, Magic & Mystery), who is an editor for Euterpe, invited me to be a part of Euterpe’s Back to School Extravaganza and Book Club Giveaway this week! And just what is their Back to School Extravaganza? Well, Euterpe is celebrating the start of a new school year by encouraging young readers to….read, read, read!!

Don’t you remember that special book that got you thinking, “Man, I wanna write a story like that!”? Well, that’s part of the gist here. Euterpe is making the effort to help young readers find those special books that spark the fire of imagination and creativity. All this week you can find many, many fun and informative posts written by either an Euterpe author, or by Susan Sipal and the head editor of Euterpe, Ellen Brock (check out this post from yesterday on Jami Gold’s blog: Small Presses: Davids in a Field of Goliaths).

AND, they’re doing giveaways ALL WEEK with every guest post (so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post)!

So without further ado, please give Ellen your undivided attention as she gives us insight on what happens after the offer…..

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What Happens After the Offer With a Small Press

You got The Call (or email).  After years of writing, months of submitting, the endless waiting and agonizing, being rejected from every angle imaginable, second guessing your every decision regarding the choice to write and the story you so carefully crafted, the most insightful, discerning editor on the planet has finally recognized your story’s worth and called you with an offer.

What happens now?

First, you celebrate.  Pop the champagne, go out to eat with the family who believed in you all along (we hope!), broadcast your triumph across Twitter, and relax in the warm glow that the goal you worked toward so hard for so long has finally come to fruition.

But beware: what comes up, must eventually come down.  In a day or so, probably right when you’re in the middle of contract negotiations, the euphoria you’ve experienced as the result of this success will be succeeded by the frustrations of the new challenges you’ve encountered in what you thought was going to be the post-acceptance land of milk and honey.

These highs and lows are the secret inner world of the published author.  Just because one book gets accepted doesn’t mean everything you write now will.  And just because a book gets published doesn’t mean it will garner 5-star reviews or sell to the heights you desire.  As writers, at least those of us who make a career of it, we must learn to take the good with the bad, the highs with the lows, and continue to put our stories out there.

Being aware beforehand of what you’ll face after that first call can help shape your expectations and make the roller coaster ride of publishing a bit less scary.

1) Expect to be edited heavily, many times through – Through the many lines of edits you’re getting ready to face, keep one thing in mind: out of the hundreds of manuscripts your editor read, she liked your work enough to invest in it.  You’ll probably forget this important tidbit when you’re dredging your way through structural edits, content revisions, line edits, and galleys.  Different houses have different layers for editing, but they all boil down to polishing your manuscript to its brightest shine.  As authors, it’s hard for us to separate what’s inside our heads from what’s in black and white on the page (or screen).  It takes a fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes to really pinpoint where a reader has been left confused, where narration has turned to drudgery, or where an emotional conflict needs to be heightened.  Work through these changes as professionally and quickly as possible.  When frustrated, sound off to a close friend or family member.  But when talking with your editor, remember that she wouldn’t have bought your book nor suggested the changes you’re wading through if she didn’t believe in your story.

2) Expect to have differences of opinion regarding cover art – With traditional publishing, it’s one of the main things authors have the least control over.  And yet because it’s the most visual reflection of your story and the primary weapon in drawing a reader’s initial attention, writers fret and agonize over the artistic portrait of their baby.  Many writers will eventually be disappointed with a book’s cover.  With big publishers, most debut or mid-list authors have little to no say in their cover art.  But with a small press, the author usually has more input.  Make sure that early on you fill out any cover questionnaires and share ideas and images you’d like incorporated.  At Euterpe, we provide a cover art worksheet to every author and pay attention to the author’s desires.  We take great pride in our authors’ satisfaction with the beauty of their cover art.

3) Expect to be a partner with your publisher to promote your work – Gone are the days of multi-city book tours, magazine promotions, and dozens of ARCs sent out for review.  Even in the golden days of publishing, this level of publisher support was only ever offered to the higher echelon of bestselling authors.  Today, for Big 6 and Small Press alike, publishers expect authors to partner with them to promote their work, and most of the promotion will occur online.  If you’ve not yet started building an online presence via blogging or other social media, the time to start is now.  Word of mouth has always been the key to selling books.  Word of mouth starts with a great story told.  And now, word of mouth breaks out most frequently via online methods.  At Euterpe, we’ll work with you to identify which form of online presence suits you personally. We also provide Euterpe authors with a weekly newsletter of promotional opportunities, making it easier for them to get out and market their books.

4) Expect that some of your ideas may not work for your publisher – One of the most unrealistic expectations that would-be authors have is that after they sell their first work, everything else will sell afterward.  Depending on your sales and the ease in which you work with your editor, future sales may get easier, but they will never be assured.  Not every concept you have will be marketable for that editor at that publisher at that time.  It’s still nothing personal.  It’s just what sells.  At Euterpe, we help our authors build careers.  Our authors can appreciate the fact that they now have an editor on their side who will give them feedback on an idea before they’ve written a whole book.  Keep a file for your “not yet right” ideas, and one day they may be right for another editor at another house or at another time.

5) Expect that publishing will always be difficult, but still rewarding – If you’ve made it this far, if you’ve stuck through the frustrations and difficulties all writers must face to get a manuscript accepted for publication, you have what it takes.  Yes, you will face challenges, but remember the reward at the end of the road — your reader’s eyes glued to the page (or screen) as they experience the thrill of reading your story.  This is the goal we share at Euterpe.

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From the moment she learned to read, Ellen always had her nose in a book, tearing through the youth section of the library like a little tornado. As she grew up, she never lost her love for the YA and MG stories that captured her imagination and fostered her life-long love of reading and writing. She began editing manuscripts as a volunteer in her early teens. Today, she has worked with hundreds of clients on manuscripts, screenplays, graphic novels, and more. Ellen has a BA in electronic media communications and is the head editor of Euterpe and co-head editor of Pan. She is also the owner of Keytop, Inc., an editing company that primarily serves new authors. She is the proud mommy of seven pet rats and a hedgehog.

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With today’s post, Euterpe is giving away a free copy of NORMALISH by Margaret Lesh!

People tell you high school’s so great and wonderful, but they’re lying. It’s mostly horrible and full of disappointment. It sucks. Your best friend abandons you. The jerk you’re in love with pretends to be into you, and then the big dump. The boy you’ve really clicked with as a friend decides to go all crushy over you, so you break his heart just like yours was — smashed into little pieces . Your sister goes mental , and you get involved with a guy who’s even crazier than she is (who you know is a very bad idea, but you do it anyway). Math only adds another stink of failure to the whole thing.

High school blows.
Just ask freshman Stacy.
She’d want you to know.

How to enter: Just leave a comment! Tell us what you’re looking forward to after you receive the offer. If you’ve received and/or signed an offer, tell us about your experience. OR, you can just leave a comment telling Susan & Ellen how awesome they are for creating this whole extravaganza that will help churn out the readers of tomorrow. 🙂

Deadline: All comments received by 10pm EST tomorrow night (Thursday, 9/13) will be entered for the giveaway. The winner will be picked via Random.org, and will be announced with my weekly mash-up of writing links, This Week in Favs, this Friday (9/14).

Addition Info: NORMALISH will be released in October (10/5), so the winner of this prize will receive their copy of on that date.

Good luck! 

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