Publishing 101: An Interview with an Acquisition Editor

Publishing 101

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve written your book–congratulations! Now what do you do? How to do you publish your book? 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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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