Thursday, September 18, 2008

Putnam Editor Stacey Barney Talks to Us

Heidi R. Kling, author: People are curious about debut books from both the publishing perspective and author's point of view. I know it's a complicated process, but what are the basic steps the publisher takes to get a book ready for its debut—let's say acquisition on?

Stacey Barney, editor: Well, there's the first and foremost, the Editorial process. We want to make sure that when we publish, we're publishing the best book possible. This includes rounds of editing and revision that includes focus on everything from character and scene development to pacing. Together the author and the editor does a line edit to make sure the writing is as tightly executed as possible, excising unnecessary stage directions and the like. Then the manuscript is sent to a copyeditor. The author and editor will go through the copyedited manuscript together making any final changes or adjustments before the manuscript is sent to design to be typeset. The editor and the designer will pick out a type font and at the same time, the art department is working on a cover. Marketing is putting together the catalog, for which the editor has written copy. Somewhere along the line the author and editor receive the typeset galleys. This is the last time the author will likely see the manuscript before it's a book. Production will produce bound galleys—what we internally call the 1st pass is really the end of the Editorial process. What follows is a focus on marketing, publicity, and sales with the author and various depts. of the publishing house playing equally  key roles. If all happens as we'd love it to, by the time the pub date arrives, there will be plenty of copies of the books in bookstores far and wide, and there is plenty of coverage timed with the date of publication to let readers know that a new book has arrived on the shelves, and that they should run out and get it!

Heidi R. Kling, author: Thanks! Now from the other side of the desk (or laptop), I'm a new author whose debut novel SEA comes out Summer 2010. A lot of people stress that authors are responsible for much of their own marketing these days. How accurate is this? And what should I be doing to get ready?

Stacey Barney, editor: It is true that authors are responsible for much of their success and this includes marketing and publicity efforts on their own behalf. To that end, having a web presence is the really important and not just one that connects the author to other writers, but in the YA market particularly, you want a web presence that connects you to the readers—the kids. Connecting or reconnecting with organizations that you have or have had ties to, who may want to sponsor events or buy bulk copies of your book or just do a profile of you and your book in their weekly or monthly newsletter is helpful. Establishing a platform for yourself by writing for relevant magazines and newspapers is also  helpful. This may set you up to be invited to speak at various libraries or book fairs or conferences where your book can be sold. Connecting with local librarians or bookstores who would sponsor events is a must. Viral marketing, such as Youtube video blast to listservs of teachers, librarians, students, and other target readers coordinated with the time of publication is another great way to participate in the health of your marketing and publicity campaign. Hitting up local newspapers, radio or television shows to do a special spotlight on you as a local author is another way to get momentum going and build buzz. Some authors have even begun their own whisper campaigns and have developed contests and given out prizes on their websites. But I can't stress enough how crucial the web component can be and how making your site a site kids want to come to can really help build your platform, credibility, and sell books.


  1. great post and very helpful info, Heidi!

  2. Sidebar: Congrats on starting a blog, Sara!

    This is a great post and very informational! Thanks!

  3. This is really helpful. Thanks!

  4. Wow, that was a lot of great information--thank you for sharing it! I'm squirreling this away. :D

  5. Great tips! Thanks, Heidi and Stacey!

    Colleen Cook from Kansas City

  6. Great interview. Thanks for posting!

  7. Glad you guys liked it, thanks for reading. =)

  8. Man, I knew I had to get back to work on my website. Oy!

  9. Heidi, thanks for the in depth interview!

  10. Great interview! Thank you.

    I would love to take a look at some successful websites. One thing I've liked recently is John Green's MySpace page for a character in his novel, Paper Towns. He has a profile for her and a scavenger hunt for his fans. Do any of you have favorites?

  11. thank you for sharing it! I'm squirreling this away. :D

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