I labored under the impression that an advantage of a traditional publisher over self-publishing was that marketing and manuscript processing would be done for you. Wrong!!! All publishers these days must suffer from financial pressures as they ask authors to perform as much of this work as they can. Limited budgets and limited staff time are the explanation I have heard.
I was asked to format the accepted manuscript according to Tech Press specifications. This consisted of converting the accepted manuscript into a form that was easier for the publishing process. Secondly, a lengthy marketing questionnaire instantaneously arrived via the internet, but required much longer for my research and completion of it. The standardized questionnaire asked how and where Tech Press should advertise and many other questions related to book promotion (now those were tricky ones and likely my thoughts will not prove very helpful).
Also I was asked to obtain permission for images to appear in the book. This seemed quite reasonable but was a challenge. Researching where the image first appeared and by whom can prove difficult. In my case I mainly sought pictures of Adolf Hitler held by various European museums and the Library of Congress. Gaining permission for using these for my chapter on the impact of his Parkinson’s disease represented new and unfamiliar ground for me to till.
Once this identification phase was completed, I contacted the museums or individuals holding copyright and, in some instances, paid to use them in my book, Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. This proved a time consuming slog.
The Tech Press questionnaire also asked me to pen promotional copy for the back cover and to provide a brief bio and picture. I admit, self-promotion is awkward and hard for me to do. Nevertheless with the help of my publicist and marketing gurus at the publisher, brag I did!
I completed each of the thirty-five queries. As it turned out the process forced me to shrink my conceptualization of my book down into sound bites. I had previously found “the elevator presentation” hard to manage.Every author needs to describe his/her book in simple declarative sentences that weave a strong argument for buying it. To be sure, completing the questionnaire helped me with this effort.
Winding my way through the publishing maze has at times made me feel like the mouse in this cartoon. It is doable but at various points in the process-confusing.
I hope my experiences will interest some and help others attempting to publish their books. Who knows what lies ahead? Publishing is not for the faint-hearted!