I know many of you have already been through the publishing process and know the ropes, and others are where I was just a few weeks ago, waiting on submission responses and dreaming of the call, but I thought it would be helpful either way, to share specific tips as I experience the post-call journey to that first book release. As for non-writing readers out there, you may enjoy the glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes with authors.
My first tip revolves around Art Fact Sheets (AFS), the infamous, detailed questionnaire completed by authors and used by publishers to plan everything from cover art to book blurbs. I had to fill mine out shortly after The Call. I won't get into every aspect of the AFS, but there is one tip that, had I known, would have saved me tons of time. Pictures.
Now, I had read plenty of blog posts about writers using picture collages in their office as inspiration for their books. Some even used Pinterest or other online photo share sites to collect pictures of models or actors that 'looked' like their hero or heroine, photos reminiscent of their setting etc... What I picked up from what I read (and of course I may have missed something) was that the purpose of these collections was inspiration. Well, I'm very visual, and I do search the internet during my research phase for pictures that jog my muse, but I've never saved them. I kept them in my head. My mind's eye is so vivid, I saw no need for cork boards or the internet equivalent. Unfortunately, when it came to completing my first AFS in less than 24 hours and on 3 hrs of sleep, I couldn't download my brain to my computer.
I ended up spending several hours scouring the internet for those images in my head, or similar ones, so that I could copy the links to my AFS. I desperately wanted to be sure the art department could 'see' what was in my head when they came to designing my book cover. The entire time I scanned the internet, I wished that I had kept a file, dedicated to the book, that had photos or photo links organized by hero, heroine, setting etc...so that I could have simply uploaded it to the AFS form.
So my tip of the day...those picture collections are not just for inspiration. You're going to need them, and not simply tacked on a cork board in your office. Keep a file, on your computer or on a share type site, label it for a specific book, and keep it updated as you write. I'll be doing that from now on. It'll save you a lot of time and stress when AFS time comes around.