There are approximately ELEVENTY HUNDRED SURPRISING THINGS I’ve learned about book deals and the book publishing process that I never, ever, ever, ever knew.
Take the hour-long call I had with my editor at Penguin, yesterday, as we discussed my manuscript and agreed on final edits. One of the things she wants me to do? Make my chapters shorter towards the end. Why? Because psychologically, readers like to feel like they’re making progress. If the chapters get shorter as you go on, it creates this feeling of “I’m killing this book, I’m almost done.” WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT ABOUT THAT? My editor then went on to describe reading non-fiction as a little bit like eating your spinach. “Even if it’s really fun, this is something that a reader is doing for their own well-being. We need to help the reader get to the end, so they can feel good about themselves by finishing. It’s like running a marathon for intellectuals: and we need them to finish, because people only tell people about books they finish. You don’t tell people about books you haven’t.”
You guys know how much I’m over here orgasming over all of this, right? There’s nothing I love more than words + sales, and this is just the crème de la crème. Another fun thing I learned? Publishers actually have what’s called “titling meetings” where they sit and brainstorm titles for your book—because, yes, ultimately they get to pick the title and subtitle. And the shorter the subtitle, the better: because of how many characters they can use in their metadata fields, and ALSO because they need both booksellers and readers to “get it” right away. However, there’s also lots of room for creative messaging in other places, such as the cover quote, the reading line, back-cover copy, back-cover quotes, etc. (And you KNOW I’m going to have a field day with this. I’ve already proposed that somewhere on the cover it should read: “*Disclaimer: This book does not include a single guided meditation. Isn’t that great? Nope. Not even one.”)
I am having way too much fun with this process. And, there are soooooo many things that I wish I would have known when I was just starting out (especially about juicy topics like advances and royalties and $$$)—which is why I’m making you something so you, too, can know ALL THE THINGS.
So I want to know: what questions do you have about the publishing process? Whether your dream is to write a book someday, or you’re thick in the middle of it, or you’re just a curious Kate, click below to submit your Q’s, and I’ll do my best to compile the answers!
While we talked about many things yesterday, perhaps my favorite sentence that came out of my editor’s mouth? “I can’t un-read this.” Which is pretty much the highest compliment I could ever hope for. I hope this book sticks to your bones once you read it. I hope it makes you do radical and dangerous things. I hope it makes you see things differently, for yourself.
And fuck, I hope you love it.
The Girl Whose Svelte Figure is Paying Dearly for Becoming a Published Author—And She Doesn’t Even Mind