Proposal to Publication – Part 5 of 5

Title, Cover, and Marketing Plans

While your book has been going through the editing and production phases, the art department, sales department, and marketing department have been busy creating the packaging of your book and planning how to market, promote and sell it.

The timing of each of these steps varies, but will be happening behind the scenes whether or not you’re aware of it. While it sometimes seems there are long stretches of time when you don’t hear from your publisher and you feel like your book has dropped into a black hole, be assured LOTS of people are thinking about your book and working hard on it.

Title & Book Cover
The marketing and editorial teams will meet to discuss the title of your book. They might decide to leave it as-is, or they might come up with suggestions for alternative titles. There may be some back and forth with you. If you’re not liking what they’re suggesting, this is the time to get your agent involved to negotiate a smooth decision-making process.

Then the art department comes up with concepts for your cover. Sample designs are sometimes sent to the author for your input, but right of cover approval isn’t normally granted to authors (check your contract). You’re more likely to be sent a PDF with an excited email from your editor: “Look at the awesome cover design we came up with!” They’ll solicit your feedback, but they’ll make the final decision. Again, this is when your agent can be invaluable in helping you to express your opinions to your publisher without getting too emotional and ruining the relationship. If you hate it, call your agent to vent, then work on expressing your opinions in a tactful and productive way.

The marketing team has read your proposal and sample chapters (and possibly the whole manuscript). They’ve put together an overall marketing plan, and created marketing copy (ad copy, back cover copy, catalog copy, etc.). As your pub date draws near, they begin executing various part of the marketing plan. They’ve added you to the publisher website, listed your book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, they may have done an endorser mailing, distributed Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) for review, placed a listing for your book in various industry catalogs, etc.

The sales team has also received your manuscript or at least proposal and sample chapters. Based on that, plus their knowledge of the market, a sales strategy is devised. This includes creating a Sales Sheet (or Tip Sheet) for your book that helps the sales person when they’re pitching your book to a buyer. Several months prior to publication of your book, the sales team begins selling it to the trade.

You may have been asked to compile a list of possible endorsers, complete with contact information. Somebody (either in editorial or marketing) composes an endorser letter, and sends manuscripts out with the letter to everyone on your list, requesting endorsements. As endorsements come in, each one is edited in-house. Your publisher decides how and where to use each endorsement (inside the book, on the front or back cover, or in catalog copy or print ads).

Influencer List
You may also be asked to compile a list of “influencers” with contact information. These are people who are likely to talk, write, and/or blog about your book once it’s released. Either you or your publisher will send copies of the published book to everyone on this list with a letter asking them to write about it.

Publication Stage

This is the fun part. Everything is done and your book has been sent off to the printer. Then finally, your book is published. You receive the first copy and celebrate!

Now the marketing plan kicks in. Hopefully, you’re doing some interviews, author signings, updating your blog or website daily, sending out newsletters, garnering local press, and anything else possible to get people to buy your book.

(By now you should probably be finished writing your next book, too.)

Congratulations, you’re a published author!

This series was originally posted in 2008.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  2. Jennifer L. Griffith on July 27, 2009 at 8:16 PM

    >WAY off topic, but your e-mail addy didn't work…so here's my question.

    A wonderful sister in Christ named Lola lost her husband Kelly suddenly on Wed while biking on our path. She is heading back to Colorado Springs right now. They were full time RV-er's for the Lord for the past 4 yrs and had just arrived here a week earlier. Kelly went to Heaven doing what he loved most…biking. In a week or two, Lola will need a simple place to live and would love to house-sit or rent a small apartment/garage [furnished] etc. If you have any leads, let me know. She's a WONDERFUL lady who lives to serve the Lord!!! I'm putting feelers out to see if anyone has any leads that would bless her in her time of mourning. Thanks for any help,

  3. Eric J. Krause on July 26, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    >Thank you for posting these. Since I’ve yet to get to travel this publication road, it’s nice to know what to expect when I (hopefully!) get to jump on. Very informative. Thanks again!

  4. Camille Cannon Eide on July 26, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    >Thanks, Rachelle!

  5. Jody Hedlund on July 25, 2009 at 6:11 AM

    >Loved the series! I’m sure I’ll need to refer back to it many times in the future! (At least I hope I’ll need to!)

  6. Gina on July 24, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    >Ran across a disturbing little story about a book cover today.

  7. T. Anne on July 24, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    >That last line just warmed my heart. Thanx for another great post.

  8. Donna McNiel on July 24, 2009 at 12:53 PM

    >Thanks for your blogs and Tweets. I’m ages away from the publishing stage, but you are keeping me writing with thoughts about what could come of it!

  9. Genny on July 24, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    >I hadn’t seen these posts before, so I really enjoyed all the information. Thanks so much!

  10. Rachelle on July 24, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    >An influencer is, by definition, a person who can influence other people, hopefully many other people, to buy your book.So these would be people that others pay attention to. Influencers generally have a blog or website on which they recommend books, and they have a significant number of followers who pay attention to their recommendations.This only includes your friends, family, and crit group if those people are influencers in their own right.

  11. Novice Writer Anonymous on July 24, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    >This has been a very informative series. I have one question, though, regarding “influencers.”Are these supposed to be authors who are already published or friends and family, preferably from your crit group?Just curious. Thanks to anyone who answers.Novice Writer Anonymous

  12. JStantonChandler on July 24, 2009 at 9:41 AM

    >Thanks for reposting this, Rachelle. I missed it the first time. Excellent inside information. Gave me a broader view of the publishing industry.Happy weekend,Jen

  13. Eric on July 24, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    >This has been an interesting and informative jaunt down publication lane. Thanks for taking the time to explain it so thoroughly.

  14. Sharon A. Lavy on July 24, 2009 at 7:31 AM

    >The endorsement list and influencer list requirement reinforces the need to network at writers conferences. Writers need to attend conferences well before they are ready to pitch because friendships with other writers, both published and pre-published need time to grow. Thanks for the rerun this week.

  15. ginny martyn on July 24, 2009 at 6:39 AM

    >This little rerun has been very helpful, thanks.