The Path to Publication - Guest Post by Kat Ellis

Happy Monday, all. Today's post is not by me - it is, instead, by author Kat Ellis, who wrote a great piece back in February about New Adult literature. Since then her book, Blackfin Sky, has sold in the UK and the U.S., and will be coming out in May and September, respectively. Congrats, Kat! And now, over to you.

Thanks, Simon, for inviting me back to your blog – I promise not to leave coffee stains on your carpets.

Simon and I are both members of We Are One Four, which is a group of authors whose debut novels are due for release in 2014 (and one in 2015). On the WAOF site we’re announcing our big pre-publication milestones – at the moment, that’s mostly showing off our fabulous covers, and as each of us creeps closer to being published, we’ll be showing off lots of other bookish highlights – book trailers, merchandise, events we’re attending and stuff like that.

But there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes on the path to publication that you might have an inkling about, but maybe not. Before I signed my publishing contracts (yep, 2 of ‘em – my book will be released in 2 different versions, one for the UK market and one for the US) I’d seen a few authors online go through the traditional publishing process. But there’s a lot you can’t know before setting out on that path yourself, as I've discovered.

Blackfin Sky's UK cover

The first thing I expected was that I’d be very busy working on edits. Doubly so, as I’m working with 2 different – and incredibly brilliant - editors.

I was not wrong about this.

But as it turned out, as soon as a round of edits was complete for one editor, a revision letter came in from the other – it’s almost as though they were conspiring to keep me busy, but to never overlap. Don’t cross the streams, as they say on Ghostbusters. (You really can’t go wrong living your life according to the ghostbusting ethos.) So that was good, and excellently timed, if somewhat hardcore.

Don't cross the streams!

What I had no expectations about was the other stuff. Marketing stuff. Merchandising and interviews and events. The whole book package.

Let’s look at covers, then, because that’s one way in which my publishers have differed. One had an in-house design team, and one didn't. I will be absolutely upfront and say I feel like I struck gold in terms of covers, with both publishers. I will also admit that I was terrified it wouldn't work out that way.

Before the finer details of the contracts were finalised, I didn't know how much input – if any – I would have into what my book cover looked like. When it came down to it, I suggested Shane Rebenschied to my publisher for the UK artwork, and my US editor has consulted with me at every step with the development of the US cover by the publisher’s in-house designer. Different approaches, but both have worked really well.

In both cases, my editors have sent me and my agent, the Amazing Molly Ker Hawn, drafts for our comments, and they've taken our feedback on board. I don’t think this is something that happens with every book or every publisher, so in that I’m really lucky. I've also ended up with a book that has 2 amazing covers – one you've seen, and one you’ll be seeing soon!

One of the biggest things I've learned is why authors don’t generally know a lot about this stuff before entering the swirling pre-publication vortex: it’s because it’s a different process for each author, in so many ways. So far mine has been an absolute thrill, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the finished product of Blackfin Sky, and to be able to hold my real, tangible book in my hands.

I’ll have to try really hard not to get snot on it.

Kat Ellis is a young adult writer from North Wales. Her debut novel, BLACKFIN SKY, is forthcoming in 2014 from Firefly Press (UK) and Running Press Kids (USA).

You can read more on Kat's blog, follow her on Twitter, and be sure to add Blackfin Sky on Goodreads.

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