More about editing: The acquisition phase, by June Cussen

Let’s continue on the acquisition phase of the book editing process, and just to keep up with the times we are in, consider it from the more digital point of view. What’s different? What’s the same?

A big difference, of course, is that with that great equalizer, the Internet, everyperson is a publisher and his/her own editor. And that’s a great thing, mostly. Fling open those gates of publishing elitism. All of us have our stories to tell. Most of us are experts in something or other. We can share all that acquired wisdom and/or storytelling talent with anyone in the world with an Internet connection. You’ve heard of the ‘long tail’ concept of retailing on the Internet, that you can sell a lot of items by selling in small quantities to a lot of different people. So if you write your book on some niche topic, an iguana cookbook say, you might just reach enough buyers on the Internet to make it worth your while. But, hey, that’s marketing. That’s on the other end of publishing, right? Nay. The good editor knows that you have to think about the back end, how to sell the darn thing, right up front in the acquisitions stage. And so our everyperson can be his own editor and get that book out there—either as a p-book (you know, the old-fashioned printed kind) or e-book, which will go digitally into the buyer’s electronic device.

Did I just say that our writer can be her own editor? (No, I just said ‘his’ own editor, but I’m trying to juggle our inherited language to play fair with the genders.) Be one’s own editor: let’s consider that for a moment. An editor acquires, edits (in its many phases), marshals through production, proofs, pitches to the sales folks, keeps the momentum going for his author as long as he can keep that book alive and selling. There are some parts of that process that you can do yourself, and maybe better than some professional sort of editor. We’re looking at the acquisition phase here. And, sure, you can certainly ‘acquire,’ that is, decide to publish, your own book. You can count on the ‘long tail’ as your marketing nod during acquisition phase. Are you entirely realistic about a) the quality of your book, b) how well you can perform the copyediting, design, and production, and c) how many buyers might really be out there and how well you can reach them? Being realistic is what editors quickly learn about manuscript acquisition. In big publishing companies, if an editor’s list doesn’t sell after a few years, it’s out the door—your acquisition stinks. In smaller companies, it’s, well, OOB (pub-speak for out of business). In self-publishing, it’s, hmmm, better stop spending my children’s inheritance (or if they’re younger, lunch money) on this vanity.

Enough today. And just to keep up with the animal ending theme, here’s our latest kitty, Phoebe. She’s the one by the door. The other one is a neighbor cat, Rory, come to court (to no avail, of course).






— June Cussen, Pineapple Press


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