This is How it Happens

Launch meeting: 

The first presentation by an editor of forthcoming titles to the marketing and sales staff. The first step in defining the publisher’s seasonal list, these meetings enable editorial, marketing, sales, and production staff to discuss the marketing and production requirements for each title. Based on the launch meeting presentation and discussion, the marketing director will project a first printing and, at a later point, will develop the marketing plan through discussion with individual departments.

Lead title(s):

The one (or more) major book(s) on a publisher’s seasonal list.

Staff members representing multiple Hachette Book Group departments sit around a conference table, each holding a summary of the seasonal list. Scratch that, it’s not a conference room, they’re on a Zoom call. “Let’s start with our lead title A Tribal Life with My Running Buddies: Evolution of a Middle-Aged Badass,” Jane, an editor says, smiling broadly, sitting up tall in her little box on the Zoom screen. “This is going to be big.” Jane’s fully animated now, moving her hands in the air as she rattles off a list. “I can see book club sales, a movie, probably a television series. The importance of women’s relationships, particularly as we struggle to come out of the pandemic, is going to resonate with women of all ages—not just middle-aged badasses.”

In my dream, this is how it happens.

In reality, the manuscript for A Tribal Life with My Running Buddies: Evolution of a Middle-Aged Badass, is a nicely bound pile of paper masquerading as the thesis I turned in last spring. Two copies are still sitting in the Staples box on the floor next to my desk from when I picked them up after having them bound to fulfill the course requirement. The semester ended during the height of the pandemic, so we were only required to email the electronic file. A hard copy also becomes a part of the library at Bay Path, but we were given an extension to turn it in. Oops.

As I learned the first week of the thesis course, a thesis is not a book manuscript. My thesis is 122 pages and 33,421 words. Even as book lengths get shorter, an average book is still 300-400 pages. I have a fair amount of work to do to expand it into a book-length piece of non-fiction, which is a bit of a challenge while working full-time and trying to finish a couple of classes to graduate in the spring.

One of the first assignments in my current publishing course was to start creating a visual of our “writer’s path,” which has already been productive in helping me work toward the goal of becoming a published author and full-time writer. The photo I’ve included is the current visual of the steps I’ll take to reach my goal. My plan is to continue adding to my blog, rework and submit some existing work to literary publications, and write some new work to submit for publication. At the same time, I’ll finish the two-semester publishing class, find and complete an internship, and take the one remaining course I need to complete to graduate. Oh, and I need to show up at my day job too.

It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

But it’s time to finish. I started my MFA in 2016, taking a course at a time, with my only goal to finish before I retire. It was mostly for self-fulfillment, completing a bucket list item I’ve had since I started a master’s program in my twenties. But I also wanted some flexibility in how I spend my retirement and I thought a master’s degree would give me the credentials I need to teach. Along the way I’ve discovered I really don’t want to teach. I like writing and I like my current work in marketing. Hoping there is a way to combine the two, I changed course and chose the Publishing track as my final phase of the program. My goal is to transition from a very full, full-time job to a first chapter in retirement working part-time in book marketing, which will allow time to write.

Next May, I will be an MFA graduate, working on my first book, and looking for a role I can transition to as a part-time book marketer.

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