I just got an e-mail tonight from an acquisitions editor congratulating one of my clients, Bring Your Book to Life Program graduate Leslie Shapiro: The editorial board had approved her manuscript and they’d be sending a book contract shortly.
One thing that struck me in this process was Leslie’s flexibility. When the editor suggested a title change, Leslie immediately let her know she was open to the experience and wisdom of the editor and the editorial board.
Many authors feel understandably protective when it comes to changes to their book, but the truth is that a publisher has loads more experience in the publishing realm than a new author. Generally, a publisher’s ideas are going to help get your book into the hands of readers and make it a better read. In this case, the editor later e-mailed a compelling title, one which preserved a phrase used by the author in the earlier title.
If you know in your gut that you don’t want anyone else to have control over your title, cover, content and design, self-publishing is a better route. But, in my experience, publishers generally add so much to the process through the collective experience of the editorial and publishing team. And they are expecting you to understand that.Publishers are looking for authors who are flexible and open to their expertise. Authors who “know it all” tend to be a real turn off for publishers.
If you want a traditional publisher for your book, and a publisher is interested, get a sense of the types of changes they are thinking of making up front and see if you can live with those changes before signing a book deal. Be open and flexible to understand why they may want those changes. And once you sign a book deal, be easy to work with! Certainly share a concern about a decision if you have one, but first seek to understand why a publisher wants to make the changes they do.