And Now, We Wait

This month, I’d like to talk about a subject that perhaps doesn’t get addressed as straightforwardly as it should: waiting. Waiting is the in-between step in the book publishing process that I wasn’t prepared for, and it has consistently been a challenge as a manager. You’ve just organized and collaborated with seven other people to copyedit a manuscript, and you’ve sent it through the editing department who kindly collated all eight of your individual documents into one coherent whole that you can pass on to the expectant author—what now? Well, now you wait. And being prepared for that will save you a whole lot of grief.

It can be difficult to anticipate this perceived downtime, but as a manager you will feel way happier and more comfortable if you can remember to do this. Instead of thinking about it like a gap, or an absence of the manuscript (which is still YOUR BABY at this point, no matter how many times you try to remind yourself that it’s not, actually), think of it as an opportunity for housekeeping. It’s time to get everything in order for that glorious return of a new, better, more complete manuscript. What can be accomplished in the interim? The Seven Stitches team, for example, is currently waiting for the return of a copyedited manuscript, which included substantial changes that will require one final cleanup pass before we wrap up the term with typecoding. In the time between handing our editorial comments off to Ruth and getting the manuscript back, we’ve moved forward with marketing documents, mocking up our sales kits, and finalizing small pieces of the puzzle that will make the prepub marketing flow more smoothly.

Another important aspect in treating the waiting period as an opportunity to be productive in new and exciting ways is to remember that while you—the manager or team member—are working on the manuscript, your dear author is the one waiting. Be conscientious! Remember to reassure your author while they wait so they know you haven’t forgotten them. If there are blog posts, or social media endeavors, or community outreach that can be done by an author while you work, discuss that with them! Waiting is the hardest part, but with communication and organization, it doesn’t have to be unproductive.

Prepping for Pre-Sales

As we head steadily into the middle of the spring term, the Seven Stitches team is hard at work preparing for pre-sales. In the early summer, we’ll hold a pre-sales call with Ingram, where we’ll pitch the book for distribution. To get ready for that call, we’re nailing down our marketing materials, including the advance information tipsheet, the marketing plan, and the sales kits. The finalized marketing plan will be a long form version of the tipsheet, detailing all the basic specs for the book as well as the intended audience and markets, the key selling points, and an outline of our plan for traditional and online promotion of the final product.

As we start to think about creating the sales kits, which won’t be finished until the end of this term, we’re brainstorming fun ways to sell the book quickly while at the same time grabbing people’s interest to explore the novel in more depth. The recurring appearances of textiles and ceramic art in the novel and the graphic elements of Oregon’s earthquake preparedness campaigns are providing us with the inspiration we’ll need to create some fun collateral in the coming months.

In addition to building these documents, our team is also finalizing the copyedits on the manuscript. We broke the manuscript into four parts, so each team member working on the project has a manageable amount to focus on. We’ll copyedit each piece separately and then combine it back into a cohesive document that will be double-checked and returned to Ruth Tenzer Feldman to review our suggested edits. Our edits include grammar, syntax, and spelling corrections as well as minor line-level adjustments for tense and clarification, and when we’ve received the finished manuscript back from Feldman, we’ll move into interior design, and plans to turn a manuscript into a finished book will be officially underway.

We’re Getting into the Spring of Things

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, Ruth returned her revised manuscript to our team, and we got started on line-level developmental editing. This go-around of editing basically involves no major changes or alterations, and it is instead focused on making Ruth’s manuscript the best version of itself. Because she’s chosen to take on the issue of diverse representation in YA novels, creating a young heroine we don’t often see in a realistic world that includes a broad range of experiences with race, class, and gender, this round is particularly important. We’re all working to ensure that the final draft captures the real-world qualities it aims for without relying on stereotypes or clichéd expectations.

Another important aspect we focused on in this round of editing is the book’s near-future setting. What might Portland look like in forty-two years? Our team worked to extrapolate their own lives to fine-tune Ruth’s delightful juxtaposition of the familiar things we take for granted and the unexpected new developments the future could hold.

As we segue into spring term, we’ll send out the cover design brief to Ooligan students. This document details the size and genre expectations of the final book, and it provides a synopsis and some comparative covers. Students interested in book cover design are invited to submit their ideas, which we’ll workshop and eventually turn into final submissions for an executive vote. Cover designs aren’t just limited to experienced designers either—in the first round, everyone is welcome to submit their ideas.

We eagerly await the return of the final draft and the cover design submissions, and we’ll see you next month!

‘Twas a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to us! We’re in love—with the new manuscript from Ruth Tenzer Feldman!

This Valentine’s Day, exactly one year from our anticipated pub date, Feldman returned the revised manuscript for Seven Stitches to our team. Earlier this winter, Feldman got her developmental letter from our acquisitions department, as well as met with our team to talk about the big-picture goals for her book. These conversations will ultimately help tighten the narrative and character development, refining the vast artistry of the first manuscript into a more cohesive draft of the final novel.

Now that the manuscript has been officially handed over to our team from the acquisitions editors, we will tackle line-level developmental edits (DE). If the initial DE offers changes to the big picture, line-level edits assume the revised manuscript represents the first version of the finished book. At this level, we investigate internal choices and consistency. Does this action or dialogue make sense for this character? Does that plot point require any additional context, or would it function better with less explanation? This is an exciting opportunity for our team; since we have an even mix of first- and second-year students, the Seven Stitches line-level DE is the first official editorial project for some, and it is a return to the fun hands-on work of editing for others. When we’re finished, we’ll return the manuscript to Feldman once again, and she’ll have a few weeks to address our proposed changes before we get started on copyediting.

While the team was waiting for Feldman to return the manuscript for our perusal, we began work on some marketing documents that will make their debut later this spring. In addition to building an initial marketing plan and conducting research on target markets, the team has begun developing the marketing copy for the finished book … keep your eyes peeled for the new official addition to Ooligan’s YA titles.