Everything you CANNOT CONTROL in Publishing!



hi everyone Alexa done here and today I am telling you all about the things you can and cannot control in publishing I'm just going to rattle through this list and ruin all of your hopes and dreams but seriously a lot of things are out of your control in terms of writing and publishing books and as always I am specifically talking about traditional publishing where the caveat of traditional publishing is you have to relinquish control of many many things so I'm going to go through all of the things that you do not have control over when it comes to traditional publishing but then I'm going to talk about a few things you can control so my fellow perfectionist control freak brothers and sisters you know you'll have the peace of mind of the things that you you can actually keep ahold of in your hands except when you you can't because there's exceptions and caveats to everything so no further ado here is just some of the things that you cannot control in publishing out of your control which agents connect to your work which editors connect to your work acquisitions decisions you you have no control when your book is taken to acquisitions and they're doing P&L statements which are profit and loss statements and all the different departments are talking you have no control when it comes to timing this means how long it takes you to get published you can have all of the best intentions in the world you know re ok I'm gonna finish this in six months and I'll have an agent three months later and I will go on submission in the fall and then I will have a book deal by December like you just you everything it's all out of your control timing is out of your control in fact you can be super talented like write really good books and go five years of being on the merry-go-round of publishing and not get a publishing deal which is another thing that you can't control you can't control how the industry and the market and everyone is going to receive your work you cannot control your cover I have a whole video about that which I'll link down to below you cannot control your blurbs like how that whole thing goes so I'm link to that video down below as well you cannot control a warts which ones you're submitted for let alone of course whether or not you win any you cannot control event invites Lake you are gonna have friends who are invited to events that you are not invited to this can be conventions and book festivals and all sorts of things readings signings can't control any of it you cannot control some early book tours whether or not your publisher sends you on one whether or not authors who are putting their own book tour together invite you it's all out of your control you cannot control the way that readers respond to your work and related to that you definitely cannot control reviews neither the trade reviews so how kind of the trades receive your work or reviews from readers you cannot control book bus you cannot control professional jealousy you're definitely gonna experience some and you know what other people we're gonna are gonna be jealous of you you can't control any of it related you can't control marketing and publicity you have zero control over how much or how little or what kind of marketing and publicity support you get from your publisher so related to that you cannot control the things that your publisher you're the marketing and publicity department are going to ask you to do this could be any number of things they could ask you to record a video of yourself talking about your books and well of course you can say no my recommendation is to say yes ninety nine percent of the time so the one percent of the time you have to say no to something to your publisher it's easy and they still like working with you it could be being asked to do a blog tour or to up your Instagram presence you know you can control any of those requests you cannot control your book sales whatsoever you can't control the distribution whether or not you're going to get into Barnes & Noble you can't control whether or not you're one of the illustrious target picks you can't control I mean really just people buying your book and related yet definitely cannot control the list the New York Times lists becoming a bestseller all complete we out of your control who you can't control whether you earn out so you have zero control over whether or not you're one to sell enough books to earn out your advance in therefore start earning royalties and related to this you therefore cannot control how happy or unhappy your publisher is with your sales relative to your advance I'm not done who back to marketing and publicity you cannot control whether or not you are a lead title sometimes they'll tell you that you're gonna be a lead title when they offer and then you're not because you can't control how your book is received at the lunch meeting this is when your editor is going to pitch your book for the season in to which you were sold to the whole team but especially sales and marketing so you can't control how the individuals in the sales and marketing department and the publicity department will receive your book sometimes they absolutely love it and you weren't gonna be lead title and then they make you lead title or you were promised that you would be lead title by your editor but then the market changes and you're not lead title anymore I think that this subtitle on this channel should be Alexa done dream crusher right but the way I see it the more you know what you can't control the more peace of mind you'll have when it's completely out of control so speaking of another thing that you cannot control is the flow of information as it comes to you because you were letting someone else publish your book there's just gonna be all sorts of stuff floating out in the universe and you're not gonna know about it until you know about it so you don't know often whether your publisher is gonna make swag for you are they working on something another thing you can't control you know you can't control what events you're being pitched to or being sent to you'll find out when you find out what I've discovered being traditionally published is it's like there's like a foggy pane of glass between like me and my publisher there is transparent as they can possibly be but there's just no humanely wave for them to keep me in like a constant loop about every single thing that is happening as it is happening and developing because I don't work there I'm not in their meetings so you're always gonna feel one step removed from the whole publishing process and I know what you're thinking why do you subject yourself to this torture there are serious pros to being traditionally published but control is definitely not one of them I am NOT done and I'm also doing these completely out of order I'm kind of throwing them out at you as they pop in to my brain so you can't control deadlines so these are the deadlines that your publishers set for you for your traps for your revisions for pass pages you can't control any of that so whether you like it or not they're gonna give you a date like let's say you know they're like you know six months to write your sequel and you have six months to write your sequel in fairness I had nine months I really shouldn't complain and kind of related to that you can't control whether your editor slash publisher accepts your subsequent pitches this could be your pitch for book two and your two book contract whether it's how you're going to approach the sequel or the completely unrelated book that's sold or it's your option most book contracts come with an option which means that your publisher has the option the first right of refusal to look at your next book idea and you have no control over whether or not they're going to accept it if they do whether they're going to offer favorable terms you know you can really want to work with your publisher but they might not want to work with you and last but certainly not least and I'm probably forgetting things that you can't control and I think I've already told you about 15 to 20 of them you cannot control the nebulous market the magical weird market the market is this just the odd concept of what's gonna work when and why and what people are buying and what your publishers pushing and promoting you can't control the market and so sometimes the market is going to work in your favor whether it has to do with getting an agent or getting a book deal the amount of money that you get for the your book deal the marketing push that you get from your publisher or not the market can impact you negatively you cannot control a single piece of it now what can you control well you can always control the writing you are the author publishing can literally not publish the book without you I mean this is a well you've had that power once you get a book deal before you get a book deal they could buy anyone's book but once they buy yours and there is a contract you have a little bit of power because there's no book without you so you can control the words that you put on the page you can control your own writing process to a certain point if you get a crazy deadline you might have to change your writing process cuz you you have a deadline related is that you always control your own ideas your own thoughts and your unique spin on things and your voice they might not always like your ideas but your ideas are yours it's all about your creativity and kind of the what you bring to the page now I mentioned that you can't control which agents connect to your work and they're therefore which agents offer but you can control who you query and it's actually really important to control who you query because you can't control who connects to your work you should never ever query someone that you wouldn't actually want to accept representation for or who you are intimidated by afraid of working with that you're not too impressed by so you can always control who you send your work to you can control how you react to all of these wacky things that you have no control over now it is easier said than done but you can practice I don't know then there are coping mechanisms and skills and things that you can put into action when you receive something unexpected or you know critical feedback or what have you it could be taking a deep breath taking five minutes thinking something through and not responding right away it could be rolling with the punches you control your case do you attitude like oh gosh isn't isn't that a real speed bump for me well this sucks but I'm gonna focus on the positive and I am going to push forward you can control how you treat people I think you should always lead with kindness and generally speaking if you are a pleasant and generally easygoing human being to work with your publisher is going to like working with you and since you can control who you are as a person and how you conduct yourself professionally in that sense you can control that axis of your career even if sales are out of your control or other things if you are a generally nice person if you're a pleasant to work with if you are professional because it's not always about necessarily being nice it's about being professional you will be someone that publishers want to work with and in particular I mean be nice to everyone but I encourage you to be as open-minded thoughtful accommodating and thankful and grateful to your marketing and publicity department I mean sales to you should really be friendly to everyone but marketing and publicity in particular they get a lot of dumped on them and they have a lot of people who are demanding who complain if you are the bright spot in their day if you're the author that they love working with that can only work in your favor now I mentioned that you control the writing and I also mentioned how you don't control deadlines the things that your publisher wants and when they want them but because you control the writing you actually can in some ways exercise a bit of control over some of those deadlines that feel out of your control like I said you should say yes 99% of the time when it comes to your publisher I mean maybe 98% of the time you want to be accommodating and professional and easy to work with so that when the 1 to 2 percent of the time that you have to say no or no but it's not a problem and an example of this is if you are sent your past pages and given 48 hours to do them and that is simply not realistic for you for whatever reason you can control that to the to the extent that you can say I can't do this eight hours but I can get it back to you on X date you have the smallest measure of control over things like that or you have control over if you hit you know all of your deadlines the one that you're struggling with you have that leeway to say I need a few more days for this so you always have at least that smallest measure of control and that's also why you have an agent there to back you up your agent hopes you have leverage and a little a little extra edge of control over all of the things that you have no control over you also have control over your own marketing initiatives now this is a double-edged sword and I have a whole video I actually think I have more than one video about authors and marketing with traditional publishing there's always things that you can do yourself now whether they're worth doing yourself whether there is an ROI or return on investment on it that's a whole other story but there are always things that you can keep in your control when it comes to promotion and marketing including and especially your own social media profiles and branding that that's something that you should be doing yourself you should exercise control over them so I will tell you I mentioned it in these things you can't control section sometimes your publisher will actually make requests or tell you what they want you to do with your social media but at the end of the day it is yours and it is an access of promotion and Buzz that you control and if you're feeling a bit unmoored by the things that are out of your control with marketing and promotion with your publisher there's always something that you can do yourself and last but certainly not least you can control your own son like patients hopefully if you're not a patient person but you want to be traditionally published you need to develop patience that's something that you can work on you can kind of control that because if you have patience if you roll with the punches if you you know keep a pretty good attitude and you stick to the writing which you can control it's all not so bad like all of these things are out of your control but if you let them oh it's actually sometimes less stressful because you don't have to worry about a million things and if you know that you can't control them you're not gonna obsess about the fact that you can't control them so those are all the things yet Canon cannot control in publishing the column with cannot control is a lot longer than the can control but there you have it I expect this was illuminating to a lot of you all the things that you cannot control let me know down below in the comments any of these that you have additional questions about any of them that you would like to see you a whole video on as I mentioned I already did videos on how you can't control your cover how you can control your blurbs and there are other axes of things you can't control but I could certainly talk about in more detail so let me know down below in the comments give this video a thumbs up if you liked it and subscribe to the channel if you are not already I post videos two to three times a week all about why a both writing and working in the industry traditional publishing reading books and so on so thank you so much for watching everyone deep breaths you can't control most of it but it's worth it in the end I feel so happy writing everyone

41 thoughts on “Everything you CANNOT CONTROL in Publishing!

  1. Deadlines is the main thing I would struggle to let go of. If I feel trapped by a deadline, I will probably stress out/anxiety if I feel I'm running out of time.

  2. 12:22 Notice the cat jumping on the book and the cut where the book position changes? I don't know why I'm pointing that out.

  3. i have a question regarding control when it comes to editing. I know editors can make changes to smaller things, like grammar and description and small character related things and overall sentence structure. But are they capable of forcing you to make large plot changes? Like "This romance that is a crucial part of the plot isnt good. get rid of it" or "I dont like this character as a male. make him female." Is that something they can make you do? And if you dont, is there a risk to your contract? that is the only thing I'm really concerned about when it comes to traditional publishing. Thank you! Love your videos!

  4. If you're writing certain things in certain ways, especially if you're not writing explicit genre fiction, publishers will often push you into changing your book into something that just doesn't work one hundred percent. And that lacking one percent can be enough to kill a publication's sales entirely. I know a great many books that WOULD HAVE been great if they weren't forced to be YA, to include the ever-present and ever-stupid love triangle, to tone down something in its entirety, etc, in order to attain or maintain their publishing deals. (There's a reason the biggest running joke with fans of non-YA and non-romance fiction is to just bluntly say "love triangle!" without much other context behind it! We're sick of them!) I'm not trying to claim any single one of these is "the" issue, not even love triangles, but not every change your editor wants you to make will actually improve your book regardless of "market research" or whatever… and that's something I wish more traditional authors were aware of.

    And while I hold no malice toward any publishers, and consider them an unparalleled good and a very helpful resource (especially if you write either YA or romance, where the mythical love triangle actually works in most cases)… at the same time I do despise how rigid and shallow they can be with their opinions on what "objectively" works in fiction. Spoilers… Nothing "objectively" works in fiction. Not now not ever. This exact mentality is why once people graduate from YA age, they'll usually give up on literature entirely for basically any other form of entertainment – because literature has gotten stale and unoriginal, as a whole. Even many lit fans agree. Any truly inspired idea will defy all market trends, including long-dead trends. And if an idea defies market trends you'll be told it won't sell, and yet that's not necessarily a truthful statement. Every breakout hit was a breakout BECAUSE it defied market trends, not in spite of it, for example Star Wars was like nothing else at the time when it first aired in cinema. Now you can be a hit by following trends, but never a surprise breakout, and only with extreme effort and a careful eye. I would actually recommend authors who have a little bit of good will with their publishers try something unconventional every now and then, it won't always work but trust me when I say it does more often than you may expect it to. We lit fans (who like genres other than YA and romance) live and breathe for that stuff. All it takes is us knowing it's even there, which sadly has a lot to do with your publisher but even so.

    So while you "CAN" control the writing. And while certain genres let you get away with more than others, namely sci-fi. It's always only to a certain point, especially if you want to write something either particularly dark or totally unique. You have to "give away" a small but undeniably tangible part of your control over your writing to get published in the first place. Becoming a writer who can just write weird, fun stuff because they want to is something a great many people in traditional publishing have told me is very hard. It's possible but not easy.

    Again. Not that I despise publishers, I think of them as an overall force of good. But the mistakes they do make damage the integrity of the medium as a whole, and are the core reason lit is so unpopular with today's culture.

  5. "you cannot control how readers respond to your work", and a few other comments… are things you should tell independent publishers too.

  6. And people wonder why traditional publishing's product has been so uninspiring for the past 40 years…. It's not just that one "can't control" whether they actually do their jobs and promote the book; it's the fact that 90+ percent of the time, they don't.

    It's amazing that people put up with incompetence, stupidity, and outright malice. If someone promised me a lead title deal (i.e., the only level of deal under which TP remotely makes sense) and changed their mind, I'd sue them for breach of contract.

    Nine months to write a sequel is ridiculous. If these assholes want their author-employees (I mean, with right-of-first-refusal type terms and books never going out-of-print, they've essentially turned authors into gig-economy employees) to produce at a full-time pace, they ought to pony up actual full-time pay. Outlier megadeals aside, anyone who quits his job for a "career" (haha) in TP is insane, and no one can work a corporate job and produce quality at that pace– since literary fiction tends to have a revision intensity of 5–10 (i.e., the first draft is only 10–20 percent of the total work)

  7. Actually, authors can influence their reviews…it's just not recommended, since one can't control readers with brains getting suspicious, or websites like FakeSpot exposing shady marketing schemes. Fortunately this does not happen very often. I only know of one self-published author who seems blatantly guilty of this.

  8. All the "cannots" is obvious except me not having any control on the cover. I cant even suggest something???

  9. I really like your videos, you cover the spectrum of the writing life including more of the business side which intimidates so many, myself included.