We have been talking about how to write, in terms of inspiration and craft however it seems many of us know the general process of getting one’s work published which a few of us do not. I do not mean publishing on own blogs rather publishing to a form that can be bought in a bookstore.
Here’s a few things I learned from an editing workshop that was held by Nyana Kakoma and Glaydah Namukasa a few weeks ago at FEMRITE.
Publishers usually have a kind of writing they publish and will periodically make calls for submissions on that theme. Some make calls once a year, twice a year as their plan dictates.
Some publishers will not restrict their calls for manuscripts on theme. Therefore it is helpful to know what kind of books they publish to increase your chances of being published. This is especially important when publishers do not make calls, when you’re approaching them outside their publishing plan.
The bit of advice I received was to know the several publishers available, what they are known for publishing and choose which one to submit your manuscript to. Alternatively, you can write according to the theme a publisher accepts and submit to them when they call. Currently, granta.com is receiving manuscripts.
The process of publishing involves the people mentioned below.
Commissioning Editor/Structural Editor: They look for a book to publish on behalf of their company. They receive submitted work after a Call. They read the work to see whether it makes sense (this involves issues of plot, theme, characterization, point of view, pace of story, form of dialogue, flow of story. When the manuscript is approved, this is where the author is paid.
A Copy editor: They look deeper in your manuscript for issues of fact, continuity, grammar, language, consistency. They also make sure your writing adheres to a suitable style guide. A style guide has to do with issues like how you treat numbers, conversation, facts, italics etc…
Proof Reader: They read the manuscript line by line.
Marketing and PR: They deal with selling your book to the public and do press releases and the making of advance copies. Advance copies are sent out to people credible enough to write reviews that are to be put on your book when the final copy gets out.
The entire process might take one to two years and involves a lot of back and forth between author and editors. It is advised to have different people fulfilling the roles of editor (structural and copy).
A Publisher will give a first time author 5000 books to gauge how successful their work is.
It is noted that in Uganda, most times, one person does all the above roles which is because the publishing industry is small.
There was a lot of discussion on the subject. I hope what I missed can be added and what I misrepresented can be corrected.