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What a publisher does: Editor's Notes #376
October 19, 2022

It is a good idea to know which publishers publish which stories. For example, there is no sense in sending a picture book text to a publisher who does not publish picture books.
—Margaret Mahy

In this issue:

1. What does a publisher do?
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1.What does a publisher do?
Amid the all-consuming search for a publisher, many writers remain largely ignorant about exactly what the publisher does. In point form, this issue lays out in broad strokes the publisher’s role. Note that not every publisher does everything on this list, and some do other things. This list can inform questions you may ask before you sign your contract.

The publisher most often does the following:
  • Chooses what to publish
  • Sometimes hires editors to work with the text
  • Chooses and pays the illustrator for fiction and picture books (unless the writer is also an illustrator)
  • Hires an indexer when needed for non-fiction
  • Provides fact-checking (Be prepared to supply a list of resources)
  • Creates the look of the book (hires a designer who chooses the cover, layout, font, paper, etc.)
  • Hires a printer
  • Undertakes advertising
  • Engages in marketing in concert with the writer
  • Handles distribution
  • If appropriate, negotiates international publication
  • Pays the writer according to the contract

In short, the publisher assumes the financial risk of bringing a book to market.

2.Tickled my funny bone
When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

3. Interesting Web site
Here are some things to consider when choosing a publisher.

4. Writing prompt
Whether and weather have been playing around in my mind, so I’m sharing these two words with you as a prompt for writing. Use one or both in a piece. If you want to add a challenge, use the prompt to practice whatever aspect of writing you are currently trying to improve.

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