The publication process of Dancing Between the Beats is underway. The book’s cover art is the first piece of many pieces to fall into place. It was important to me for the cover to suggest movement, and I couldn’t be more pleased with what the designer came up with. Thankfully, with this publisher, Wheatmark Inc., it’s acceptable for me to offer my opinion on everything from cover design to book layout. I’m guessing that those of you who’ve been exposed up-close-and-personal to my Type A personality understand that anything else would drive me crazy.
This brings me to why I chose to publish with a hybrid publisher rather than waiting for an agent to sell my novel to one of New York’s big five. The publishing marketplace underwent a drastic change around 2008. These days, unless you’re a celebrity or a proven best-selling author, with a built-in audience, your chances of landing a publishing deal are in the two-percent range. Publishers are no longer willing to incur all the costs and risks related to publishing an unknown writer. Hence the birth of hybrid publishing (not the same as self-publishing.) So let’s define hybrid: a publishing house that operates with a different revenue model than traditional publishing, while keeping the rest of the practices of publishing the same. Basically, the author takes on the risk and puts their own money on the line for all or part of the process.
In the world of traditional publishing, the first step is finding an agent. Entire websites and issues of writing magazines are dedicated to the cat-and-mouse game of agent acquisition. It can take months or even years. Once an agent takes you one, it’s their job is to sell your manuscript to a publisher. When the rights to an author’s work are sold to a publisher, the author loses control over all aspects of the publishing process. The book may be re-edited to fit the marketplace; the book’s title will almost certainly change; there is almost no chance that the author will have any say in the cover design of their book.
The time frame from querying agents to book publication is, at best, anywhere from a very optimistic eighteen months to three years. If at any time during that process the publisher decides the market for a particular book has changed, they will shelve the whole project. The author is now back to square one, querying agents and hoping another publisher will take the bait. Now, for young authors who have long careers as novelists ahead of them, the traditional route may still be the best way to go. Agent and publisher relationships will be established for future work. But for those of us who jumped into the game later in life, it’s important to get that first book into readers’ hands while we are still capable of lifting a glass of champagne at a launch party.
Speaking of which, as we get closer to the book-release date, stay tuned for invites to events to help me celebrate this accomplishment. The acknowledgments page in the book is quite long; I have so many wonderful people to thank for their support and input. Launch parties will provide the opportunity to thank everyone in person. Rather than closing with my usual flippancy, I just want to wax serious for a moment and tell each one of you how much I appreciate your support. It truly does take a village.
Below: Storyboarding towards the end of the final draft.