As interns who have gotten the opportunity to work with the UNG Press staff for the past year, we learned a lot of surprising, little known facts about publishing. Many of these facts surround book marketing, and we were shocked at how multi-faceted the promotional process is and how little authors seem to truly know about it or the way academic publishers work. Therefore, we felt it was important to get down to the fundamental reasons why potential authors should consider publishing with a university press. Additionally, we wanted to highlight the ways the world of publishing is adapting and how authors can take part in the process. Who better to interview than our very own Assistant Managing Editor, Ariana Adams, who also works with Press marketing and publicity.
Ashley Topham (AT): Can you first share your role and experience within the publishing industry?
Ariana Adams (AA): Sure. I’m the Assistant Managing Editor at the UNG Press, where I have been working for almost three years now. We’re a small press, so my experience is centered around acquisitions, editing, graphic design, marketing, and publicity. We wear a lot of hats around here!
AT: What common pre-conceptions do you notice that new authors have regarding marketing their book?
AA: The biggest one is that many authors seem to have the assumption that once they’ve had their book edited and published, they’re done. Far from it! For books to be successfully marketed long-term, authors have to be proactive about networking, attending events, and promoting their title to a growing audience base. While publishers do their best to set up new titles for as much success as possible, authors must be ready to carry that momentum forward once the front list push for their book has ended.
“For books to be successfully marketed long-term, authors have to be proactive about networking, attending events, and promoting their title to a growing audience base.”Ariana Adams
AT: Can you briefly explain the timeline for marketing a new book from the first stage to the final stage of a title’s release?
AA: The standard marketing timeline for a new book is about six months. This period is split into two main parts–the pre-launch marketing, and the front list, post-launch marketing. Pre-launch marketing is structured to build buzz and excitement for a new title. It creates a positive sense of anticipation for readers as new details and bits of information are strategically teased out over time. The front list marketing aims to continue sales momentum after a book launch with author events, book signings, interviews, and positive feedback from reviewers.
AT: How important is networking on the author’s side for marketing their book to expand their audience?
AA: Networking is crucial for authors looking to optimize sales and get their books into as many hands as possible. If an author knows book reviewers, magazine or literary news editors, or booksellers, for example, who might be interested in reviewing and/or promoting their book, the marketing and publicity teams can build out a larger contact base for that author and their title. The main goal in the promotional process is to get the word out about what value this title brings to readers in as many relevant spaces as possible. As authority figures in their genre, it’s important for authors to be part of that process.
AT: As the publishing industry has become increasingly digital, what hybrid approaches to marketing a book should an author expect?
AA: That’s a good question. I think authors should expect to see a lot of their marketing done online. Social media especially is a tool that provides one of the quickest, most efficient ways to get the word out about a new book to the right audiences and spark organic growth. In-person events are still important, of course, but it’s also important to remember that just about everything has a hybrid element to it these days. Book stores stream live readings to online participants, live podcast episodes in front of audiences are posted on YouTube, and so much more. Some of the best book promotion I’ve seen has come from authors who are open and flexible with their marketing mediums. They’re also high-energy. What I mean by that is these authors are clearly passionate about their books and speak to others from that place of excitement. Authentic, positive energy will always resonate with people and become contagious in the best way.
Caitriana Evanson (CE): Why should a potential author publish with a scholarly press such as the UNG Press?
AA: Credibility and quality. An academic press specializes in scholarly, research-driven work that moves academic discussions forward in new, innovative ways. To achieve this goal, university or scholarly presses perform intense rounds of peer review and move through each editorial stage with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that the titles they publish meet the highest ethical and educational standards. Considering how rigorous this process can be, there is also a certain level of prestige attached to an author’s book after so much stress testing. Academic presses challenge authors to bring nothing less than their best work to the table every time.
CE: Do authors receive a more hands-on approach to the publishing experience when working with a press of this size? Are there any other reasons someone should take this route of publishing?
AA: I would say that authors get a more personalized experience with a smaller press. One benefit of working with smaller presses is you’re more likely to receive higher levels of interactivity with your editor(s). These presses or publishing houses can’t put out the same kind of volume as one of the Big Five–Penguin, HarperCollins, etc.–so they are more selective with what they publish, meaning they have a curated catalog of finely tuned, high quality works that they’ve actively honed with their authors. A publisher can’t cut any corners if they want to thrive as a smaller business in such a big, competitive industry.
CE: In addition to briefly explaining the marketing timeline, can you elaborate on the timeline for publishing a book from stage one to release day?
AA: So the timeline for publishing a book can fluctuate a bit, but the average is about two years. Authors have to keep in mind that, no matter how long they’ve been working on a manuscript, an acquisitions editor is still looking at a first draft. Only a vanity press will publish a manuscript almost immediately, and in many of those cases authors lose out on quality, which cuts into profits and author credibility. It’s a very predatory process, because vanity presses usually require authors to pay ridiculous amounts of money to have their books published and printed so quickly. Alexa T. Dodd has a very insightful article on Lit Hub regarding her experience with a vanity press that readers may find useful. For traditional publishers, there are up to five editorial rounds for a book. These are developmental edits, line edits, copyediting (up to 2 rounds), and proofreading. If a book is academic in nature, there are also multiple rounds of peer review. These stages, not to mention the layout and design, marketing, and publicity phases, all take time to be done well. To give a little additional perspective, the marketing process alone is six months long for creating the proper buildup in relation to a new title.
“Authors have to keep in mind that, no matter how long they’ve been working on a manuscript, an acquisitions editor is still looking at a first draft.”Ariana Adams
CE: Are there any tips or tricks you want authors to use when pursuing a publisher? Popular questions to ask to determine whether that publisher is right for them and their title?
AA: Read over every publisher’s submission guidelines carefully, and provide only the information they ask for. Deviating from submission guidelines even a little can be enough to have your query thrown out before it’s ever read. While this may sound harsh, it’s important to keep in mind that publishers are often receiving multiple queries a day. If they do not receive the materials they need to make the most informed decision regarding a new title, a potential implication is that an author has simply used a “scatter shot” method to mass send their query. Many publishers do not have time to take such submissions seriously. To decide if a publisher is right for them, I would suggest doing some research to figure out what their mission statement is and what types of books they’re looking to publish. An author’s publishing experience is more likely to be positive if they feel that the press they’re working with has the same values as they do.
CE: What is one thing you want all potential authors to know about the publishing industry?
AA: Wanting to publish books with the sole purpose of making money will ensure failure. The best, most life-changing books are written from a genuine space, whether that’s a place of love, passion, or vulnerability. This industry is so big, getting published (and doing well in sales after) is almost a competitive sport. Don’t guess at what people might want to read, or what the hottest literary topic will be in the next few years. Write something authentic and personal. Editors can tell when you don’t.
Our goal with this Q&A segment is to shed some light on the mystery behind the publishing industry for new authors. We hope the conversation with our assistant managing editor Ariana Adams provided insight into what a new author should expect when submitting a query, the timeline for publishing an accepted manuscript, and the marketing aspect that goes along with the industry. For further information about the UNG Press and the resources we offer, please check out the link to our website: https://ung.edu/university-press/!
Ariana Adams is the Assistant Managing Editor at the University of North Georgia Press. When she isn’t working, Ariana enjoys hiking and practicing photography.
Ashley Topham is a student, travel writer, and intern at the University of North Georgia Press. When she isn’t studying or working, Ashley enjoys exploring new locations and spending time with her husband.
Caitriana Evanson is an intern with the University of North Georgia Press and a student earning her degree in English literature. When she isn’t working or studying, Caitriana likes to shop for more books to add to her collection and play with her two cats.