The Art & Science of Creating a Book
by John Köehler
Writing a great book starts with art and ends with science. The art of your book is all about your inspiration. The idea for your book, and then the constant inflowing of inspired thoughts that continue to fill the pages and are passed on in each and every word you lay down. At least we hope it is that way!
We understand all about inspiration and the art of a good story. Our team is composed of writers and authors. Our editors will help you craft something beyond even your inspiration, but it will still be yours. Your voice. Your story. But in order to read well, even the most inspired stories must be matched with good craftsmanship by masters of the science of writing, design and publishing. That would be us!
It all starts with editing. After you have agreed to come on board with Köehler Books and have signed with us, you will begin working with one of our editors, selected specifically for you by our Executive Editor and partner, Joe Coccaro. Joe may in fact edit your book, or assign it, but either way you will meet your editor and discuss your story and the editing strategy that we will follow with you.
By that time they will already have read your manuscript and will come to the table, or the phone, with a plan and comments about your writing, about your style, your grammar, your characters and dialogue. They may ask you to rewrite some areas or polish some others. It depends on how clean your manuscript is.
The editor is the boss. Not Ghengis Khan, but the boss. They will work in a collaborative and collegial way with you, but you will be required to be convincing and fight for those passages you love. But if they say something like, “it does nothing for the story,” then you must let it go. The editor is the boss.
The editor uses three types of editing: the chainsaw, the chisel and the polishing rag. The chainsaw in the beginning, to cut out redundancies and sections considered too cumbersome, too much, or that interfere with the thrust of the story. The chisel then for the second stage of working to push and nudge and cut and get it right. And then when you think it is just right, even more polishing and cutting and moving and editing.
Another editing analogy uses stone: boulders, rocks, gravel and grit. The true grit of your manuscript will come about over time and with great effort. In the end we expect to have very fine material that we can lay down on the pages without bumps, easy to read, smooth as glass, all day long. Good editing.
The designer is also the boss. The cover of your book is a little like a label on a jar of sauces at the grocery store (OMG, what an awful analogy!) It is the first thing people see. It will either attract them to pick it up, or it will not. It will either look like real sauce, or not. Same with your book. It must quickly convey the message of the story. It must be provocative and stimulate the mind. It must LOOK like a book cover.
We will work with you on the book cover. Our award-winning designers will craft a masterful cover, or sometimes more than one option, for your consideration. You will have a say in the cover, but not the final say. The publisher has the final say, but nine times out of ten, we are in agreement with the author and the choice is obvious.
The inside text as well is critical. Some people look at book text and say, “So what? It’s just a bunch of text.” Many decisions go into the science of a book interior or text design. It must look and read like a book, and there are certain rules and standards which need to be followed so that the reader will feel comfortable in reading the text. Decisions about the type size, the font, the leading, pagination, and the header pages and colophons and table of contents and photos and legal page and title page and acknowledgements and Forewords and and…. Well, there you go. Text design is an art and a science.
Finally there is the publishing, marketing and distribution. Many things can go wrong here, as you will find if you try and self-publish your book. After your book is edited and laid out and the cover is done and the book is ready for prime time, we bring in the muscle, our publishing partners at Morgan James Publishing (MJP). MJP has vast experience with marketing and promoting over 1500 books. Holy cow! They will lead the Marketing Mastermind process, a series of calls with you to discuss all the ways you can promote your book with social media, TV, radio and print. Free ways and things you can pay for if you choose.
Then your book is distributed by Ingram Publisher Services (IPS), a division of Ingram Books, one of the biggest book distributors in the world. IPS works ONLY with the 60 or so largest publishers by volume, including MJP. IPS has nearly 40 sales people devoted to selling your work to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Books a Million and thousands of smaller booksellers worldwide.
So there you go. Publishing a book is a combination of art and science, all working together to create something memorable, something people want and are willing to buy. So go make some art!