All You Ever Wanted to Know about Publishing

I’ve only mentioned it a few times on this blog, but I consider myself very lucky to work at a publishing house. And I love what I do! For a while, my career was taking a different path, and it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I hoped. I took a chance on publishing, thinking it would be a “dream job,” and guess what? Dreams can become reality. I love working with books, and every day brings new learning at the publishing house. It’s not a dream every day, but I sure do enjoy what I do.

I used to work with the nonfiction divisions at the house, but I recently transitioned to the fiction team. Which is very! exciting. But since I’m moving away from nonfiction, and the more general role I previously held, I thought I would share a few lessons learned and insights gained during that time. These are tidbits not only that I learned, but I thought might be interesting for others in the writing world who are looking to getting traditionally published. So here we go!

Most authors who get signed have an agent

We have an online submission system that we direct authors to who want to submit an unsolicited manuscript to us, but generally speaking, we do not take unsolicited manuscripts. Nearly all authors who get signed have an agent, or get one early on in the game. Those who didn’t have an agent but still got a deal connected with the acquiring editor at a conference or through another author we publish. Agents are important! And if you don’t have an agent, you definitely have to get yourself out there.

Titles are not the author’s decision–and they can’t be trademarked, either

We work hard to collaborate with authors on their book titles, but the ultimate decision comes down to the publisher. There may be a rare case where an author worked a clause into their contract, but even then it never goes further than joint agreement on the title. About half the time, we’ll use the title an author proposes, and the other half of the time, we’ll go with a different idea we came up with. Sometimes, those titles might be the title of another book–and again, we do try not to use titles in our space that are recent. But the occasional drama does come up! *shrugs*

Author platform does matter

This may be more specific to nonfiction books, but this really is true. I know this is something debated in the writing community, but it definitely is important in all I’ve seen. Granted, “important” ends up mattering in different ways. Here’s what I mean–our publishing committee discusses an author’s platform before we ever sign them. Sometimes, we make a comment about the small platform, but if we really like the content and enough people speak up in support for it, we might move forward with a book, giving it a small projection. However, if an author has a small platform and weak content, that might sway the room against the proposal. So, all said, platform makes a difference, but it’s not the sole deciding factor.

You don’t need an English degree to work at a publishing house

Yes, many people do have English degrees–at least the people in the editorial department. But there are tons of different roles at a publishing house that lots of people don’t ever think about–rights and contracts, production, sales, marketing, customer service, design, and more! Some of these departments might require a college degree, but many others might not. There’s a starting place for everyone, and typically lots of ways to grow and strengthen your career no matter where you begin.

Publishing schedules work way in advance–and all at once

Explanation: We work on three schedules, spring, summer, and fall. At any given time, we’re at a different point for each season, and we’ll be working on anywhere from three to five seasons at a time. For example, right now, we are just getting start on books releasing in spring 2020, and we’re at various points for books releasing in fall 2019, summer 2019, and of course, those releasing now in spring 2019. Especially in my previous assistant position, I was always looking ahead to schedule meetings and plan for books releasing years from now. Plus, we’ll look at new book proposals and might sign the author, but the book won’t be due for at least a year. This publishing business takes time, which is necessary but can also be infuriating!

That’s all for today! Interested in more insights from the publishing house? I’m sure I’ll have tons more to share from everything I’m learning while working in fiction. Stay tuned!

Until next time,


I Went on a Cruise

One of my biggest highlights from 2018 was going on a cruise with my family. It was our first vacation to somewhere new with just the five of us in years–we really weren’t even sure how long it had been. So, naturally, we were looking forward to it for ages.

I’m pleased to say the trip lived up to our hype. Truth be told, whenever you look back on a vacation, it’s hard not to look through rose-colored glasses. You forget all the times you argued and the bad weather that you were cursed blessed with, and instead only remember the good memories and wonderful experiences. It’s a funny thing, but it’s also pretty amazing that we can do that. I even remember thinking at one point, Wow. How will I ever forget how annoyed I am right now? I’m going to have terrible memories of this trip. But I don’t–truly. Romanticizing the past can be dangerous, for sure, but in this case I’m grateful for it.

All that said, this was my first cruise, and I put a lot of thought into preparing for the trip and even still uncovered a few things I wish I’d known beforehand! So, in case you’re heading out on a cruise soon or interested in planning a trip, let me share a few tip and tidbits with you.

First, the basics, for your reference: We went on a 7-night cruise with Royal Caribbean. We had four ports throughout the Western Caribbean and two cruising days. For our family of five, we had two adjoining balcony rooms, and we ate in the main dining room every night. We went in November.

A Few Tips and Tidbits

  1. Pool seating on cruising days is highly coveted

This first tidbit kind of messed up our first cruising day, and that’s mainly because everyone seems to have different opinions of what adequate pool seating looks like, particularly in my family. My parents liked pool spots away from kids and large groups of people. I preferred spots that weren’t windy and that were away from the speakers playing the live band. My sisters wanted spots anywhere in the sun.

It was nearly impossible to find five seats together near the pool, and definitely impossible to accommodate all our tastes, which we learned fairly quickly. And it taught us a lesson that was reinforced the whole trip: traveling with a group of adults means you will split up sometimes. It’s hard to get everyone on the same page for everything. So, for our second cruising day, my sisters and I split up from our parents. We still hung out at the pool together and spent time together, and overall all had a good time.

2. The food is never-ever-ending

Always a good spread in the main dining room

This is probably one of the most well-known and talked-about aspects of a cruise, and it’s totally true. Food is everywhere, and people go nuts over it! There are buffets and snack stations galore, and at dinner they will bring you plates full of second servings, additional entrees or desserts–anything your heart could desire. All you have to do is ask.

Mid-week, we felt as though we eating quite unhealthy (go figure), so we asked for some vegetables along with dinner. We received two overflowing plates to share, and every night after, they did the same. It was lovely!

3. A 5:00 PM dining time really is not ideal

We knew all along that we wanted to have a dinner reservation that we attended every night, so we could make some friends on the boat and get to know our servers. But we could do 5:00 PM or 8:00 PM, neither of which seemed ideal. I think we still chose right, going earlier, but it sure was a hassle whenever we had port days. It felt like we had to rush to get ready for dinner every night, and we were unavoidably late a few times. Thankfully, we had a really great dining experience overall, so that made up for it.

4. Prepare for exhaustion

Cruising is so tiring! You will be go, go, go with no breaks in between. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful. As someone who quickly gets bored at the beach, this really was my kind of vacation. But after a long day exploring a port, after eating a large dinner, after sitting through a performance while the boat rocks you to sleep–you will be so exhausted. You won’t make it to any sort of late night club or party. But that’s okay.

5. Snorkeling is a must

I snorkeled for a first time on this trip, and it was a life-changer. What an experience! Even as a beginner who struggled with the logistics a bit, I had the most amazing time snorkeling, and without a doubt my family loved that excursion the most on this trip. Swimming amongst schools of fish, getting stung by jellyfish, and seeing all sorts of different sea life was just the coolest thing. I can’t wait to snorkel again someday.

6. There’s no flavored coffee creamer

Which made me sad–I typically drink flavored creamer with my coffee every day. This was possibly the saddest part about the dining on the boat. (But they did have Starbucks, and I swear, no flavored creamer made that caramel macchiato one of the best I’ve ever had.)

7. Balcony rooms are so worth it

Morning sunrise = *heart eyes*

It’s true that you can cruise pretty inexpensively if you get an interior room with no windows. I know this might be good, or necessary, for some, but I have to say, if you have the opportunity and means to get a balcony room–do it. I can’t tell you how glorious it was to roll over in the morning, open my eyes, and see the most beautiful sunrises right out our window. We also ordered room service for breakfast twice, and enjoyed our muffins and coffee in the balmy morning weather. Those quiet moments were some of my favorites. The majestic beauty of the ocean is one I will never take for granted.

8. Even if you think cruises aren’t for you, it’s worth at least one try

Before we planned this trip, I had a snooty attitude about cruises, thinking they were for lazy people, for those who didn’t actually are about getting to know the culture of the place they were visiting, and full of people just wanting to lay by the pool and get drunk. This may still be true, but I found that cruises are for people like me too. Everyone will find something they like about cruising–and maybe reconfirm a few things they don’t like too, but no vacation is perfect, eh?

Merely being on a cruise ship is bizarre, and I feel there must be something seriously wrong if you went on a week-long trip and hated every second of it. What’s not to love about sailing the seas, soaking up the Caribbean sun, and waking up in a new place every morning?

Well, there you have it–8 little tidbits from my trip. I swear, I could go on and on about this vacation, so you should be thankful I’ve limited it to only this. Maybe someday I’ll come back to share more of my wisdom and reflections–preferably after my second cruise, of course. 😉

Until next time,