29 March 2021. I had my “kickoff” meeting last Friday with Marianne Babcock (Executive Assistant to the CEO) about how Sunbury’s newly revised editing and planning process will unfold for Finding Sisters. We set a tentative date for publication in the early fall 2021, though it could be a bit earlier, depending on how the editing and book design process evolves. My latest revised manuscript was submitted to Marianne later that day, I gave her access to the proposed book illustrations through my Drop Box file, and I was told I would have an editor assigned very soon. It turns out that the Founder and CEO, Lawrence Knorr, is doing some occasional duty as an editor, and he’s going to be working with me. Lawrence has been supportive of this book since I first mentioned it to him as a work in progress during the podcast interview he did with me for Keeping the Light on for Ike when it was first released in early 2019. Genealogy is one of his particular interests, and it will be an incredible privilege to work directly with him!
Once the timeline was established, Marianne and I talked about the Matter template she had sent me in advance of the meeting. For those who have never published a book, “matter” is the term publishers use for all the information they need above and beyond the manuscript itself. Most of the information never shows up in the book itself, but it helps shape the marketing plan for the book as it approaches its launch and beyond. The template asks for a book description (both short and long form; very carefully defined by number of words or characters); author bio (short and long); BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) categories; SEO (search engine optimization) keywords; Amazon categories; and comparable books by other authors; all geared toward where the publisher can sell my book. The template also encourages social media participation by the author, an up-to-date author website, how to look for people to provide possible “blurbs” (those important mini-reviews from related professionals or other authors that help to raise interest in the book when it first comes out), and other ways the author can contribute to getting information out there about the book both before and after it’s released.
After talking about the matter document, which I am in the process of drafting now and which will come into play as the editing phase nears its end, we also talked about book illustrations. Finding Sisters will have a few photos (though not nearly as many as Keeping the Lights on for Ike) as well as some family trees I’ve created that are designed to help the reader follow all the familial connections discovered in the search for my genetic relations. I will be working with Crystal Devine, the same book designer who designed Keeping the Lights on for Ike, to determine the best placement of the illustrations. Those who know me well, know I have already thought carefully about that and, of course, provided a list (I am the queen of lists) for which chapters I think the pictures belong in and approximately where in that chapter the text reference to the photo happens, though the specifics are still to be determined collaboratively during the editing process.
(The photos above are the reunion images from the days I first met each of my new half sisters, April in the left image in 2015 and Ann on the right in 2017)
After the illustration conversation, we turned to talking a bit about ideas for the book cover. I think the most promising idea we discussed will be some kind of collage of the reunion photos and perhaps one or two of the family trees. Sunbury creates compelling cover artwork for their books, and I was quite pleased with the cover for Keeping the Lights on for Ike, so I have high hopes for the Finding Sisters cover as well. I don’t know yet who will design the cover for Finding Sisters, but Terry Kennedy who designed the cover for Ike is an excellent designer, and I’ve recently discovered that Lawrence is also an accomplished digital artist as well as editor and book publisher CEO, so it’s a win-win situation for me, regardless of which cover designer I am assigned.
I have no idea how long or short the editing and book design process will be now that it’s finally underway, but based on past experience it’s a solid bet it will be completed in plenty of time for an early fall book launch. However, between working on the newest book (not yet ready for a book proposal submission so I need to give it more attention) and the editing and marketing planning process for the Finding Sisters release, I have no idea whether I’ll be doing much new blogging until it’s finally published. But you can be sure I’ll keep you posted about the launch before it happens!