by LinDee Rochelle
Advocate, according to my trusty Webster’s New College Dictionary, is “1. One who supports or defends a cause,” and “2. One who pleads in another’s behalf.” We take this dual role very seriously. Even if an author request is outside our standard policies purview, but is logically stated and has some validity, we often take the query to management for consideration.
As Advocates we try to make ourselves knowledgeable in a variety of publishing subjects in addition to our own company services, and provide well-rounded information. What we cannot comment on though, is your book’s content.
When making inquiries to publishing professionals, the author should consider their role and present themselves professionally as well, in order to establish their own credibility as a serious author. Of course, you have questions as a first-time author; or perhaps you’re an established author inquiring of a new publishing route.
You should ask questions! We encourage it. Your book will benefit and better books sell better.
Although your Advocate likely has a publisher affiliation (like Infinity Publishing), as a professional, they should be somewhat impartial to the “who” of publishing. Their focus best serves the author by determining their needs and assisting the author on the “how” of publishing, to establish the most advantageous avenue.
Often though, an author turns to me and also asks my opinion on the “what” – and that’s where I must draw an imaginary line. Since the “what” or content of your book is so subjective, not only in its version of a topic, but how it’s presented, you must be the deciding factor in the development and content of your book.
We encourage you to welcome critiques from author friends and to network with writing professionals; if you feel indecisive about your book’s focus or structure, consult a Content Editor. But when you come to an Advocate or other representative of the publishing field, know the difference between a writing question and a publishing question. You will benefit so much more.
L’s Seven Suggestions for asking publishing questions of your Advocate:
- DO ask if you keep your rights; and ask why you should care, if you don’t know (and clarify all offered services)
- DO inquire as to the breakeven point of publishing your book
- DO clarify a publisher’s submission requirements (follow their guidelines to quicker publishing and they should be able to answer basic technical questions)
- DO ask general writing and publishing questions, like what are the 3 major elements of a successfully selling book (great title; superb back cover copy; outstanding cover design)
- DON’T ask an Advocate’s suggestion for a title; who will you blame if your book doesn’t meet expectations?!
- DON’T ask your Advocate to review or help write your bio, synopsis, or other book promotion materials – better idea – query your editor
- DON’T hesitate to ask for references to outsourced assistance not available with your publisher; who better to know?
And extraneous No. 8 – a DO and DON’T combo – do ask the publisher if there are any new services not yet noted in their literature. But don’t ask which publisher is best – them or Miscellaneous Publisher – that is your decision based on your due diligence. And if you’ve asked the right questions you’ll know which publisher is right for you and your book. Trust your instincts. Happy writing.