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A Day in the Life of a Book Publisher

Publishing is in a very exciting place. With Bookstagram and reader conventions and social media, readers and writers are interacting in new and interesting ways whether authors are from big houses or independently publishing. Authors across the board are more visible and more involved in marketing their books and finding their own methods of making their writing into a business. Print on demand and other newer models of distribution are more accessible to individuals and smaller houses. And more small presses and hybrid publishers are finding ways to mesh the benefits of traditional publishing with the scrappy techniques of indie and self publishers. There’s a path for almost every writer imaginable.

At our publishing house, we love that we read queries from authors just starting out alongside queries from some of the best agents in the business. Now more than ever, debut and experienced authors alike are looking to have more control of their writing careers, and we think that’s an incredible place for the industry to be.

And just as every author’s journey is different, so is every publisher’s journey. Because we’re such a small team, we wear many different hats. On any given day, we’re working on edits, consulting with designers on cover creation and book formatting, establishing marketing campaigns and advertisements. We’re talking with authors about ideas and setting up book events.

We can’t speak to publishing in general because there is no set method, but to give you some idea of how a small press runs, here is a breakdown of the roles at Owl Hollow Press:

Editorial Director

Oversees the publication process—basically the project manager over the books—to make sure each book is on schedule and where it should be in its cycle (editing, cover design, formatting, events, marketing, etc.), runs ad campaigns and advertisements, finalizes books and their distribution, and works through contracts with authors and agents to acquire new projects.

Acquisitions Editor

Reads dozens and dozens of queries, asking for full manuscripts on about 10% of those. When she reads a full, she does it in about a day (seriously, our AE is a mind-blowing speed demon), and she’ll know pretty quickly if the manuscript isn’t quite the right fit, has great potential and we’d love to see some work on it (Revise & Resubmit), or if she falls in love and knows we want to offer on it.

Publicity Manager

Works to set up book events, blog tours, Instagram tours, awards, giveaways, photo shoots, and the individualized marketing plans we come up with for each book. She has also been doing a lot with YouTube and some other exciting ideas we have coming up.

Content and Line Editors

Work with the authors through several rounds of revisions, both developmental and line-by-line, until each book is its shiniest, best self and ready to submit for formatting and design to convert a manuscript into a legit book for readers.

Publishing Assistant

Scrutinizes each project. After all of the editing, formatting, and design have taken place on each book, she does a careful read to make sure the other sets of eyes didn’t miss anything. Our final quality control before the book goes out into the world.

Publishing is different for every book and every company, and there are so many tiny details that go into each book that it requires a lot of flexibility and attention to detail. It’s a lot of work, but…

Publishing is also the best job in the world. Every day is so different. One day we’ll have a conference call with a naturalist author who lives part time exploring Amazonian jungles; the next we’ll get a call from Bulgaria asking about translation rights; the next, we’ll hear from a library in Scotland asking if one of our authors can do an event…and that was all just last week. We get to talk to amazing authors about book ideas and cover designs and marketing events. It’s such an exciting time to be an author and a reader, and we’re thrilled to play a small part in that process.

What do you think about the current state of the publishing industry? Do you have any questions about what we do?

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