PSA: What Authors Do

It seems that it’s time for a refresher course on who does what to whom in the world of publishing.

So!  What do authors do?

Authors write books.

Pretty much, that’s it, with the following clarifications-or-conditions:

If we happen to perform the Primary Function under contract, we write books and hand them in (more or less) to deadline.

We may also write on spec first, and sell later.

If we do the selling thing at all, then we also may read and correct galleys.  Some authors skip this, usually for lack of time; most try to go over their galleys, if only to annihilate that one wayward “not” in dialog, the existence of which changes the meaning of the last third of the novel*.

Occasionally, authors may be asked to write cover copy.  Occasionally, authors are asked to write forewords to novels.  Doesn’t always happen; sometimes, the requested copy isn’t used.  That’s life.

Some authors choose to do some promotion and/or mingling with their readers.  Some authors choose to do lots of promotion and mingling; some authors choose to do none.  These choices are author-specific and personal.

* * *

Astute readers will see that the above list leaves a Whole Buncha Stuff having to do with producing and selling books that the author of same has nothing to do with.

These things include, but are not limited to:

1.  Cover art**

1a.  Cover and/or internal typeface(s)

2.  The physical dimensions of the book

2A.  The medium of the book — i.e., hardcover, trade paper, mass market, electronic, audio

3.  The quality of the binding and/or the quality of the paper

4.  The price of the book

5.  The language(s) into which the book is translated

6.  The vendors who carry, or who do not carry, the book in a specific medium

6a.  The individual libraries and/or library systems that have, or have not, acquired our novels

6a1.  Whether or not the acquiring library, if any, has acquired all of our books, or only random titles

7.  The price charged by those vendors who do carry the book in whatever medium

8.  The speed at which a certain printing sells out

8a.  The speed at which (and whether) a sold-out book is reprinted


*True story

**Sometimes, authors do get to consult with cover artists; we’ve personally been very pleased in being able to work with David Mattingly on several of our Liaden Universe® covers, now.  Ultimately, though, it is not the author, but the publisher, who OKs the art.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.