3 Sure-Fire Ways to Insult Someone in Publishing

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1. Design your own book cover, or better yet, have a loved one do so for you. Bonus points if that loved one is a child (either young of full-grown), and creates abstract art.

1.5. Draw your own illustrations or have a loved one do so because they're really good with Microsoft Paint.

Books are products that require an industry professional's attention and marketing consideration, just like any other consumer product—from Coke to Draino.

2. Tell your editor that you've had your family member (who has a really sharp eye), read your work for errors, and you're certain it's good to go. Bonus points if that family member is a retired high school English teacher.

Editing is about much more than correcting comma placement. Furthermore, all publishers have their own style guidelines that aren't known or understood outside the publishing industry.

3. Tell your publisher that your book is a perfect fit for Starbucks [or any major retailer], and that it should be sold there.

More than anyone, your publisher wants your book stocked in every possible retail outlet, and will exploit every single distribution connection it has. It will place it in any outlet that will make space for books, and even pay money for placement. Your publisher isn't lazy or unimaginative; there's just immense competition.

And a sure-fire way to make an editor cringe:
Remark in an envious way, "So you must read a lot." No, we don't read. Mostly, we look for ways to make money and get your book placed at Starbucks, while gently informing you that your first-born cannot design your cover. Most editors have completely left pleasure reading behind. (That includes me, except when I'm on vacation.)

To end on a positive note:

6 sure-fire ways to make an editor love you

  • Ask questions about the business.
  • Ask what you can do to make your book or project or idea more successful.
  • Ask about the publisher's strengths and weaknesses, and where your help can really make a difference.
  • Share your action plan for marketing and promotion, and ask the publisher for specific things where they can meaningfully and realistically help you (usually things you know they've done to assist other authors).
  • Ask for examples or models of what other authors have done that have led to success.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. (Do not hide out, do not point fingers, do not blame.)
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