Publishing 101: An Interview with an Acquisition Editor

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve written your book – congratulations! Now what do you do? We sat down with Casie Vogel, the director of editorial and acquisitions of independent publisher, Ulysses Press, to ask her some questions you may have about publishing. Here’s Publishing 101.

  1. Introduce yourself!

My name is Casie Vogel, and I’m the Director of Editorial and Acquisitions at Ulysses Press. I’ve been with Uly for the last 7 years and I oversee the entire list which makes up more than 60 books a year across nonfiction genres.

  1. How do you get published?

There’s so many ways to get published! You can self-publish or work with a publisher. Self publishing is a ton of time, money, and energy but means you get to retain creative control of your project. The benefit of working with a publisher is that you get to rely on their expertise and resources, but you have to not only get your foot in the door but also work in partnership with the publisher’s goals for a successful book. I think this can be an extremely fruitful partnership, but I am certainly biased!

  1. When skimming through the slush pile of submissions, what makes a story stand out?

My experience lies in nonfiction, so I can’t speak to the fiction side of things, but what I look for is a very clear marketing hook/elevator pitch that can describe a project’s uniqueness in just one sentence.

  1. What are the biggest deterrents that lead to a rejection?

Unclear or unorganized proposals. We receive a ton of unsolicited proposals everyday. If your message or project is not made clear as soon as possible, it’s very easy to overlook the gems!

  1. How important is a cover letter?

The cover or query letter is crucial for me. I prefer it in the body of the email so it’s the first thing I see. If that doesn’t capture my attention, then it’s unlikely I’ll look at the proposal. 

  1. As an acquisition editor, how much control do you have over the manuscripts that ultimately get published?

Book publishing is a team effort, there are so many different people involved in the publication of just one book. Every book is vetted through a rigorous Editorial Board process that involves members from various departments (Marketing, Sales, etc.). Acquisitions editors will work closely with authors to shape a proposal and then champion their projects at Ed Board meetings. Editors have to prove to all departments that this book is a fit for their list and the company as well.

  1. How much time do you devote to each submission? How long does it take for you to decide whether to accept or reject a manuscript?

I unfortunately don’t have much time to look at the slush pile these days so I trust my team to vet everything. They’re absolutely brilliant and whenever they flag something for me, I always take it seriously and will completely review it before making a decision.

  1. What submission advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Do your research! Whether you’re self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher, it’s so important to know what the competition looks like. There are so many books out there, make sure you can communicate what makes yours special. When it comes to working with traditional publishers, take a look at their lists and make sure your project would be a natural fit before querying. That work will be apparent to anyone reviewing your proposal.

Good luck!

You may be asking yourself: what should you do next? After you get your book published, you’ll probably want to look into publicity and marketing to get your book out there! Get a free consultation with any of our experts on number of services, from editorial, public relations, marketing, self-publishing, and more! Find out how you can market your book effectively and highly efficiently with Pacific & Court, the Brooklyn-based publicity and digital marketing firm that specializes in promoting the written word.

Publicity 101: An Interview with a Publicist

Interested in getting publicity for your book, but don’t know where to start? Look no further! We sat down with Pacific & Court President, Kourtney Jason, to ask your burning questions. Here’s Publicity 101!

  1. Introduce yourself!

Hi! I’m Kourtney Jason, and I’m the president and co-founder of Pacific & Court. I have more than 10 years experience as a publicist, working alongside celebrities, world-renowned chefs, and bestselling authors. Before launching P&C, I led the in-house publicity departments at independent publishers Ulysses Press and Time Inc. Books. Further developing my client relations, I represented top NYC chefs and restaurants at Bread & Butter and worked with New York Times bestselling authors at Smith Publicity

I am an author as well, and I wrote 5 non-fiction lifestyle books with Ulysses Press. One of which, Lights Camera Booze: Drinking Games for Your Favorite Movies, was included in the Academy Awards swag bags.

I started my career as an entertainment journalist at Seventeen and TWIST magazines, covering all things Selena Gomez, Justin Beiber, Twilight and Jonas Brothers.

When I’m not working, reading or writing, I will most likely be found indulging my pop culture addiction with a Netflix binge, hitting the movie theater (always with a large popcorn and Diet Coke!), adding to my designer shoe collection, consuming a meal with carbs and cheese, or relaxing in Prospect Park with friends. Feel free to reach me at kourtney@pacificandcourt.com anytime to talk about book publicity or to share your current favorite book or show.

  1. What can a publicist do for me?

A publicist can and will do so many things to support an author’s book launch. The standard services include media outreach and interview coordination, blog tours, and book signings and event planning. Additionally, hiring a publicist for your campaign will include creative and professional press materials that will capture your key messages. We’ll take your bio to the next level, draft a book press release that will catch the attention of the media, and write various creative pitch angles to give you multiple opportunities to share your expertise and talk about your book. We are collaborators who want you and your book to succeed, and we are cheerleaders to encourage the hard work it takes to write a book and then have to sell that book. The best author-publicist teams are the ones where the communication is open, goals are clear, and trust is established. An author must be available for media opportunities and open to sharing ideas as well.

  1. How long does a publicity campaign usually take?

Ideally, 2-3 months is the sweet spot for book publicity campaigns. However, some campaigns may need up to 6 months, if it includes an ARC outreach and/or a book tour. If your particular area of expertise relates to a current news topic, the campaign may continue longer than the estimated 2-3 month timeline.

  1. What should I consider before reaching out to a publicist?

An author should ask themselves the following questions before reaching out to a publicist:

What are your goals–to sell books, make money, establish your name and credibility, grow your business, etc? Who is your audience? Do you have experience talking to traditional media? What is your budget? What does a successful book campaign look like to you?

If you have honest answers to those questions when you first connect with a publicist, it will help us land on the ideal strategy to be able to reach the goals set forth for your campaign.

  1. What’s one thing no one knows about/assumes about book publicity?

Public relations is hiding all around you, everywhere you look, and however you consume news. That guest on your favorite podcast? A publicist secured that. That how-to story you just read in a magazine? A publicist pitched that. The expert interview on a morning talk show? A publicist coordinated that. The A-list actor on the cover of a magazine? A publicist landed that. Publicists are working behind-the-scenes to get you and your book in front of the most influential journalists, producers, reporters, and bloggers who will then decide whether to put you and your book in front of their audiences. We publicists don’t care about the spotlight on ourselves, we are over-the-moon to celebrate every headline and media hit that features our clients. Coverage is not a guarantee, but you’ll want to find a publicist that you trust is doing everything they can to get your book out there into the most impactful places.

As you can see, investing in publicity for your book can give you access to new opportunities and new audiences. Interested in learning more? Find out how you can market your book effectively and highly efficiently with Pacific & Court, the Brooklyn-based publicity and digital marketing firm that specializes in promoting the written word.

Five Awards for Independent Authors

Looking to get your book recognized? Below are our Top 5 book awards that are open to independent and self-published authors.

  • Publisher’s Weekly: Booklife Prize
    The Booklife Prize costs $99 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a potential $5,000 grand prize (and $1,000 + social media promotion for finalists).
  • Indie Book Awards: Next Generation
    The Next Generation prize costs $75 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a variety of cash prizes awarded to winners.
  • Writer’s Digest: Self-Published Book Awards
    The Self-Published Book Awards cost $125 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a variety of cash prizes awarded to winners.
  • American Book Fest: Best Books Award
    The Best Books Award costs $69 per category to enter (at the time of writing) and winners receive $2,500 prizes along with 10-month listings on the American Book Fest website.
  • Foreword Reviews: Foreword INDIES
    The Foreword INDIES have a rolling submission process and early submissions cost $89 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a variety of cash prizes awarded to winners.

If you are planning to enter any of these book awards (or others) make sure to read the submissions guidelines carefully and mark your calendar for when entries are due. In addition to prize money, book awards are an excellent way to market your book well beyond your typical audience–and offer a clear signal to readers regarding the quality of the book they are considering purchasing.

Digital Ads 101: Building a Cookbook Audience on Facebook Advertising

If you are new to promoting your books with Facebook advertising, Pacific & Bond can help. We have years of experience building, testing and perfecting Facebook and Instagram ads to get the best bang for the digital buck. Below is a snapshot of how to start analyzing audiences on Facebook Advertising.

One of our favorite digital advertising tools is Facebook’s Audience Insights. This free tool available to any Facebook business account (which all authors and publishers should have) allows you to scope out how potentially valuable and accessible different book audiences are to market to on these two critical social media platforms. Here are the key insights we take away from a simple search for “fans of cookbooks” in the United States:

Insight 1: The cookbook audience is fairly broad! 9-10 million Facebook users have indicated that they are fans of this genre of books.

Insight 2: This audience is heavily female. 84% of the audience is female (compared to 55% for all of Facebook)

Insight 3: This audience is older. The age groups that comprise 55-65+ make up almost half (49%) of the female audience for cookbooks on Facebook (and 37% for the male audience).

Insight 4: There are some clear “affinity categories” for the cookbook audience that have strong potential for micro-targeting ads. For example, this group tends to like authors like Ina Garten, Josh Axe and Martha Stewart–all of whom have large Facebook audiences that can be targeted with unique ads.

Insight 5: This audience is highly active on Facebook! The average Facebook user clicks on 19 ads per month. This group clicks on 47 ads each month! That indicates that we’ve identified an audience with a much higher likelihood of responding to our ads.

Top KDP Tools for Publishing Your Book

If you are self-publishing a book or moving it over for publication on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, these downloadable tools are must haves. Download them below.

KDP Royalty Calculator. This Excel sheet provides an interactive tool for calculating what “royalty” Amazon will pay you for each book you sell through KDP. The royalty amount is dependent on the type of paper (white or cream) and the ink (black & white or color) and the page count. So play around with pricing until you hit the royalty amount you think is right.

KDP Print File Setup Calculator. This handy calculator allows you to exactly define the measurements you will need to submit for your book jacket files. KDP requires all book jackets to have a sizable outside margin consisting of a bleed and trim variance (the outside margin ensures any slight printing errors don’t end up as white strips on your cover). So make sure to allow for a larger background than your target trim size and keep any text within the live area. The spine width is determined by the type of paper, ink, and page count.