First, let us have some background music to set the mood…
From beginning to the end, there are people who go unnoticed when it comes to publication. Whether it is a trade book, literary journal, classroom text, chapbook, screenplay, novel or memoir, there are dozens of people who work to ensure that your project is the best it can be. Just recently, I was talking to someone about editing and she told me that she had no idea that there were people who go through books like that. She did not know there were developmental editors or people who type code. This woman just assumed that the book you submit is the same as the final product. Now, I do not wish to make her seem foolish because I have no idea what goes into growing cells, but a biologist does. Everyone has their own path and we don’t really try to understand the minutia of other professions for many reasons; it would take too long, we wouldn’t understand it, it doesn’t interest us. But after this conversation, I was a bit dumbfounded. There are so many jobs out there that go unnoticed by the general population, those on production teams and editorial teams, the assistants who go through and fact check an entire project. (I have done fact checking and depending on what you are looking at, it can take hours upon hours. It is a long process that many don’t realize has to be done, especially when it comes to pieces of fiction.)
So, in order to shed some light on the integral parts of the publication process, I just wanted to give a list of some (not all) of the people who help to make a project possible. (This is a list of various titles but some projects only use a portion of this list.)
Literary Agents- Due to the fact that a lot of publishers do not accept unsolicited submissions, you need an agent to help you get through the door.
Developmental Editors- If you are working on a nonfiction piece and have notes and ideas, a developmental editor helps you organize your book, come up with your target audience and get it ready to send off to the next step of the publication process.
Managerial Editors- Managerial editors are more big picture, they are like the final boss in an old arcade game.
Copy Editors- This group of people works with the managerial editor to help you put the best product forward. They go line by line (multiple times) to check for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
Editorial Assistants- When it comes to journals and various other submissions, assistants deserve a lot of credit. The trudge through the slush pile, answer questions and get everything organized while this process is going on.
Publicists- Most people know what publicists are, they are the ones who get your book noticed and with any luck, on Oprah’s reading list.
Associate Editors- Much like an editorial assistant, associate editors lend a hand to editors. They work on smaller tasks given to them by managerial editors as they learn the trade. And even if it does not seem like much, anyone who has a hand in the outcome of your project is important.
Production Editors- This group of people make the final product. They are the ones that decide on the cover, the font. They are in charge of how your project will look in the reader’s hands.
Acquisition Editors- They are very much like agents but altogether different. An agent will send your book to the acquisition editor and they will decide if it deserves to be published. If not, into the slush pile it goes, oftentimes never to be seen again by anyone other than an assistant.
Literary Scouts- If you have a book published, you’re in luck. These guys look for books to be translated or adapted into film.
Now, bring on the women!
Now that you have some inkling of the various parts and pieces of the publication process, I would like to turn your attention to a small portion of the women who are a part of this amazing industry.
Suzanne Murphy- President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books
Azia Cheng- CEO of Penguin Random House North Asia
Maya Mavjee- President and Publisher of Crown Publishing Group U.S.
Megan Tingley- Executive VP and Publisher of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Ellie Berger- President of Trade Publishing, Scholastic Inc.
Margo Baldwin- Co-Founder, President and Publisher of Chelsea Green
Nicole Stewart- Founder and Editor of T.N.E. Multlicultural Lifestyle Magazine
Shona Burns- Executive Director of Production and Development at Chronicle Books LLC.
And the list could go on for pages and pages but I do not have that kind of time. And this is a rare occasion in which I ask my readers to act. The next time you pick up any reading material, think about all the people who made it possible. Whether that be another blog, an article or a novel, just think about all the hard work that actually goes into it.