I got some new books recently. I always try not to buy books because at the end of the semester my luggage is always crazy heavy, but it’s counter-intuitive for a writer. Books are a necessity and there’s just something about owning one and not just having a library copy that makes things better.
The first book I got was small and thin and only £2, so my usual excuses, luggage weight, money, etc. weren’t applicable. It’s called How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman. Another book is about pirates which I ordered online and has yet to arrive. I’m a bit worried because I don’t know how big or heavy it is, but it’s perfect research for my script. The newest book I got is on the pile of boxes I call a nightstand as I type. It’s called How Not To Write A Novel by Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelmark.
One of my classes this semester is less about writing and more about how to make a living as a writer. How Not To Write A Novel was recommended for it. I’ve been looking forward to this class since my first year. Since I decided I wanted to work in publishing someday, I’ve been especially interested in learning everything I could about that. I don’t want to just know how to get my book published—I want to know everything.
I had my first official class on the topic on Tuesday. I was so excited for it, it’s almost embarrassing. When I was fifteen, I did research for how to get a book published and knew everything I could possibly know about it without actually having published a book myself. Throughout university I’ve been learning about how to write something that can be published to start with. More recently I’ve looked into how a book goes from a computer file on the author’s computer to a book on the shelf of a bookstore. I learned as much as I could about the different departments and roles involved at publishing houses and how books are chosen to go off to bookstores. I even learned about how books are physically made and did a little bookbinding of my own.
And then I arrived in class and it was great. Our teacher isn’t an official lecturer at the university, but she’s got a ton of experience. She’s worked in publishing in production and editing and she knows a ton of different authors and everything. She read us some advice authors had given her to give to us and we went over our synopsis/blurb bits for our novels/scripts/plays.
Then we went over stuff like publishing timelines and how books are marketed—which I love learning about, don’t get me wrong! But I’ve learned all of this before, on my own. But hey, I was happy just to be talking about the subject. We’ve got to cover the basics to move on to the good stuff, right?
Well I guess not all of my classmates have done as much research into publishing as I have because there were some questions and we had to take a step back. Cover things like the difference between an agent and an editor, editor and copyeditor, copyeditor and proofreader. If there were an Advanced Publishing module I could take, I would.
I’m excited for the next class, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’ve learned all the theory I can. Maybe the only way I can learn more about the industry I want to work in is by taking the leap and working in it.
So naturally I’m starting my research on how to do exactly that.