UPDATE: The print version of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit is now available at Amazon.com! The Kindle version should be up by the end of the week. It was all kinds of awesome to type in my name in that little Amazon search box and have it bring up the cover of my book. Still gives me the shivers every time!
Once I had a contract in hand with Omnific Publishing, I had approximately 1,034 questions for my editor and marketing person (associate? lady? guru? I’m never sure quite what to call her). I tried to reel in my enthusiasm, but really? This was my first book! Fortunately, they took my overeagerness in stride and guided me through the publishing process.
Edits, Edits, and more Edits
First there were edits. Lots of edits. If you think that wonderful MS that just won you a contract is perfect, fabulous, doesn’t need to be touched, you are very, very wrong. My acquisitions editor had a few comments, but mostly handed my novel off to my developmental editor. We went through several rounds of edits, both substantive and grammatical, and the book improved through every step. I’m forever grateful for having an editor that I know loved my story and at the same time was a consummate, pulling-no-punches professional. Then it was on to the managing editor and more edits, including an extended discussion about the verisimilitude of “chow hall” vs. “mess deck.” We brought in experts (I’m serious). It was fabulous.
Finally, the book was off to the typesetter, and my attention was turned to the presentation of the book, including the cover and future website.
Choosing a Cover
You may hear that authors have little control over their covers. And I think this is generally true – certainly the publisher has the last word, and this is probably a good thing. Since my art skills are limited to hangman, I was very glad someone much more artistically inclined would be designing the cover.
What I didn’t expect was how involved I would be in the process of developing the idea of the cover. My marketing person/lady/guru asked what I wanted the cover to look like. I had no idea – instead I told her how the book made me feel and what the general themes were. She read the book (yay!). Then one morning she told me she had a dream about my book, and the image that eventually became the cover came to her. That she was dreaming about my book delighted me, but then the cover was even more awesome: it showed the theme of choices while still capturing the nautical flavor of David’s Navy boot camp experience. I simply adored it.
Creating a Website
I had given a lot of thought to websites well before creating Life, Liberty, and Pursuit’s website. Query Tracker has a great post about key elements in a book/author website, and Beth Revis has a great post about author websites vs. book websites. I ultimately decided to stick with a book website to launch LLP, and create a separate author website when/if my other books are published. Because I write both MG and YA books, my brand as an author will need to be distinct from each of my books, which will have their own flavor/brand.
Now I had designed several websites before, and I pride myself on my tech-geek-capabilities. But knowing your limits is important, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to produce the kind of professional looking website that I wanted for LLP. So, I decided to invest (a flat fee) for web designer (Sam) to create a website for LLP. This was the best money I’ve ever spent, and I could not be more pleased with the gorgeous website that Sam designed. Because I supplied all the content, and I’m familiar with the technology, I have the best of all worlds: I can update and freely change the website, but the basic structure and beautiful design was all set up for me.
Now, we are all ready to market the book, right? Not quite…