2. The author interview
Before a book is accepted, the author is invited to a meeting to sell the editorial and marketing people on the project. The author must be:
—On a mission
—Revealing something new
—Impressive to the people sitting around the table
The first question: “Who will this book be for? Who will buy it?”
It is the kiss of death when an author replies, “This book is for everybody.”
“No book is for everyone,” Marji Ross will snap. In the words of Mac Ross, “Fish where the fish are.” It is imperative to know precisely whom the book is for, because that affects every facet of the product: cover, chapter headings, the type and the voice, as well as where and how to publicize it.
3. Make sure it’s a book and not a magazine article
Marji Ross described a book about a soldier who lost a leg in Iraq. He was given a prosthetic limb and, after much rehab, was judged fit to return to the battlefield and lead his old unit. This was inspiring stuff and got a huge spread in People magazine. Since People gave readers the whole story, they had no need to spend $25 for the book and didn’t.
4. Involve everyone at the outset
In most publishing houses, the editor works with the author. When the book is ready for production, it is then passed on to the designers. Thereafter it goes to the marketing, publicity and sales departments to work their alchemy. At Regnery, the entire team is involved from the moment a title is accepted for publication.
5. Go dark
The project and the author are kept under wraps for a month during the wholesale phase before launch:
—No advance publicity.
—Get advance copies into the hands of influencers, but embargo all discussion until the publication date.