Category Archives: Things I didn’t know about publishing

Concerning Printings and a New Cover

Over the last year or so, I’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry.

I’ve always been a big reader, but I never spent much time wondering where books came from, or how they were made. Even when I started working on my books, I focused on the craft of writing, and not the particulars of getting published.

Because of this, I have weird gaps in my knowledge. For example, I just recently learned how to identify different printings of books.

What’s a printing? Well, when your book first comes out, your publisher takes a look at how many books the booksellers and distributors have ordered. Then the publisher prints enough books to cover those orders, plus some extra to have in the warehouse so that they can fill additional orders. That first printing is, well, the first printing.

These first printings can be of wildly different sizes. The first printing of the last Harry Potter book was huge, of course. While a lot of books by new authors get a very small first printings because the publishers don’t know how well the book is going to sell.

From what I understand, a lot of books only get one printing.

But occasionally, something magical happens. Sometimes people keep buying a book from the stores, so those stores keep having to order more from the distributors. The distributors have to order more from the publisher, and then the publisher prints a new batch of the book: that’s the second printing.

And so on, and so on…

I learned all of that fairly early on, but what I *didn’t* know was how to tell the which printing was which. But now I do…

You know that page early on in the book with all that legal-y information on it?

Here’s the one from my book. As always, guest starring my thumb…

Down here is the important bit.

Here’s the tricky part. The line that says “First Hardcover Printing” doesn’t actually tell you anything about the printing. It’s the numbers underneath. Here all the numbers 1-10 are printed out. That means that this is a first printing.

Here’s the second printing of my book. You can tell because the little number one is missing from the list. (Click the picture to embiggen.)

The fourth printing….

And lastly, the fifth printing:

The fifth printing is actually easier to spot than the other ones, as it has one additional subtle difference:

That’s right. The fifth printing of the hardcover got an awesome new cover. I was really flattered that the publisher would do this. I really like the way it looks.

This means that Shirtless Kvothe and Angry Stone Man are a thing of the past. So hang on to them, folks. In five or ten years you’ll be able to e-bay them and put your kids through college.

Also note that this cover makes it very clear that I am a winner, and that The Name of the Wind is a novel. If you were confused about either of those things, you can rest easier now.



Also posted in book covers, Things I didn't know about publishing | By Pat50 Responses

My Misspent Youth.

So a couple days ago, I come home, open the door, and find this waiting for me:

My first thought is that I might have blacked out and overdone it on Amazon again. But when I looked closer I realized what was really going on:

My book. My baby.

My next thought was that these might be my author copies. But there was WAY too many for that. Then I remembered that a couple weeks ago, one of the PR people at Penguin told me that a bookstore owner had read the advance copy of the book and really loved it. He wanted to buy a hundred copies for his store, and was wondering if I would sign them for him.

I said, “sure, no problem,” then pretty much forgot about it.

Carrying all the books inside really made me realize that 100 books is, to put it delicately, a whole shitload. And this is just for one store….

So anyway, I pulled out a book and decided to get started. I figured this was going to take me a while, unpacking, signing, then repacking the books to ship back out.

But before I even opened the first book, I was paralyzed with performance anxiety. Seriously. I held the pen and thought, “What if my signature doesn’t look… well… authory enough?”

You know that phase you go through when you’re in middle school, where you practice your signature so you’re ready for when you become a rock star and have to sign autographs all the time? I know most of my peer group went through this somewhere between the ages of 11 and 16. One of my friends actually developed an entire variant style of cursive writing that he’s used ever since. It was, and still is, totally cool looking.

Anyway, I never went through that phase. I wanted to be a rock star. But I suspected I didn’t have the right sort of hair. I also had the penmanship of a demented monkey. Plus, I was lazy and had no musical talent to speak of.

Instead I wasted my time reading books, talking to girls, and doing my physics homework. As I looked down at the hundred books I was supposed to sign, I mourned my misspent youth.

So I sat down and signed my name a couple times. Its one of those things that’s easy if you’re not thinking about it, and hard when you’re concentrating too much. I suddenly became very aware of the fact that the O leading into the T and the H is kinda hard to do quickly. If you rush it, you get tripped up and your H gets tangled up with the F.

That’s right. Laugh it up. It’s a hard name to sign, especially when you’re obsessing, and nervous, and you have, at best, the penmanship of a third grader.

Anyway, I toughed it out and did my best. I still think my signature looks a little goofy, and there are a few of them where the H looks like it’s getting freaky with the F, and the F might not be entirely cool with it. But still, given the fact that I started this whole process with a significant handicap, I think I did pretty well.

I just finished the last one, repacked the boxes, and got them ready to send out.

So before I go to bed, I’d like to give you aspiring writers out there some advice. Learn from my mistakes. Practice your signature now.


Also posted in My checkered past, my rockstar life, Things I didn't know about publishing | By Pat23 Responses

Ask The Author #1: Agents

Hey Pat,

What’s the deal with having an agent? I know an editor edits you, but I’m fuzzy on agents.

More specificially, I suppose, I’m wondering if you have one, or if you just deal directly with your publisher?


I do have an agent, Emmie, but I also deal directly with the publishers.

The agent’s main job is finding the right publisher for your book and working out the financial details.

But there’s more to it than just bargaining. The agent is also your navigator. Your trusty native guide in a strange land. Their job is to know the publishing landscape. They know who is looking for what, how much they’re willing to pay, how good the editors are, how good the marketing is, etc etc etc.

Once the agent finds you a publisher, then you start a new relationship with the editor there. The editor’s main job is to work with you on your book. But they also act as your liaison with the publisher, that includes sales, marketing.

But sometimes an agent will help with the marketing too, helping you get author blurbs, etc. It’s not like your agent doesn’t care about you anymore, they still want you to sell as many copies as possible. The more money you make, the more they make. The better your current book sells, the more they can sell your next book for.

My agent gives me advice on editing my novel. I trust him because he knows the genre and because he’s given me good advice in the past. But that’s MY agent. Your agent might be a shark when it comes to bargaining, but know precisely dick about how to tell a story.

Honestly, each editor and agent is different. Some work well together, some don’t. Some will go to bat for you, some won’t. It’s a strange, chaotic thing, and it entirely depends on the individual people you’re talking about.

This I will say. I’m glad I got an agent first. Not only did he help me get my first offer, he also gave me advice so felt comfortable turning that first offer down. (And that was a little hard, I tell you.) I’m much happier where I am now (with Daw) than I would have been with that other publisher.

Also, it’s good to remember is that:

1) Your agent bargains for a living, so no matter how much of a dealmaker you are, they’re probably better. They’ll more than make up for the 15 percent they take out of your advance. Don’t begrudge them their cut.

2) By handling the money end of your business, the agent also helps keep your relationship with your editor friendly. Your agent is a pushy dick on your behalf, so you can come in later and just talk about the book.

Think how awful it would have to be to go in to negotiations hoping for a $10,000 advance, only to have the editor argue you down to half that. So you sign a contract for $5,000 and spend the next six months working with them, editing, promoting, all the while you’re seething about the fact that they screwed you out of the money you thought you were worth.

Just as bad, what if you pushed your editor up to $12,000 and then they carried a grudge against you? What if they decided to skimp on your promotion budget because of that? That’s not a good foundation for an editor/writer relationship.

All in all I really recommend getting an agent. But make sure you get a good one. Tim Powers once said to me, “Who you pick for an agent is just as important as who you decide to marry.”

It’s really true. That person will be representing you to the entire publishing world. If they’re like my wonderful agent, they’ll make you look good. But if you get a bad agent, you’ll look like an idiot by association.

The worst part is that it’s really hard for a new author to tell if their agent is bad. If your publisher screws up, your agent will tell you. If your publicist screws up, your agent will tell you. But if your agent screws up…. well…. they probably aren’t going to be very forthcoming about that…

So do some research before settling on an agent. It’s exciting to get your first offer, but remember, this is going to be a long term relationship. A first kiss is exciting, but you don’t necessarily want to get married because of it.

There are a couple good websites out there with advice about picking agents and editors. So I won’t repeat what they say, I’ll just point you in their direction.

Writers beware.

Editors and predators.


P.S. While I was writing this, my agent sent me the following e-mail:

“This is your last week as an unpublished author!!!!!! Congrats!!!!”

This reminds me of another important role that agents play. They help dispose of unwanted exclamation points.

I kid. What I really mean to say is that in the best of situations, your agent ends up being more than just a colleague or a co-worker. They make pretty good friends too.

Alright. I’m off to celebrate my final Saturday night of nobody status by eating a microwave burrito and watching some Anime.


Also posted in Ask the Author, Fanmail Q + A, Things I didn't know about publishing | By Pat4 Responses

Author Q & A?

Over this last week a few people contacted me through webpage, asking questions. Most of them are aspiring authors or people curious about the whole writing/publishing process.

I was starting to reply to them individually, but then I thought, “What if other folks are interested in a little writing advice too?”

You see, I remember all too well what it was like growing up in the middle of nowhere, without any real writer friends or anyone I could turn to with questions about the publishing world.

So what do y’all think? Should we do an “ask the author” type thing here? I’m not an authority on this stuff by any means, but I’ve had a real crash course on how the publishing world works lately. Plus I’ve been writing these books for a decade or so. I hope I’ve learned a trick or two along the way.

Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments below. If it sounds interesting to at least a few people, we’ll give it a try.


Also posted in Ask the Author, Fanmail Q + A, Things I didn't know about publishing | By Pat11 Responses
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