In every good relationship, being on the same page about the important things is key – the author-publisher dynamics are no exception. As a publishing house of repute, we take that quite literally, of course – all puns intended. Assistant editors Tanja Ferscha and Nina Pfeiler-Galos give insights in the assistance of authors at novum publishing.
By having close contact with authors on a regular basis, you will naturally have more than a hunch about what is important in the publishing industry. Young authors, who often have no clue what they are in for when publishing their very first book, need more than to simply get their work out and about – they need side-by side guidance by someone with inside knowledge of the business.
Next to empathy, patience and an understanding for the needs and woes of new authors, an extensive knowledge and expertise for trends of the fast-paced industry are key assets in the endeavor. We sat down with novum publishing’s very own seasoned editing assistants Tanja Ferscha and Nina Pfeiler-Galos to procure some tips on how to make it from zero to hero when publishing for the very first time.
Mrs. Ferscha, you have been taking care of authors at novum publishing for many years now. Which traits should a good assistant editor have in your opinion?
Tanja Ferscha: A highly developed sense of empathy and sensitivity are essential when you’re in close contact with new authors. It is especially important for writers who find themselves often struggling with worries and self-doubt to have a trusted contact person equipped with the perfect mixture of understanding, patience and flexibility to cater to special wishes. Oh, and a certain soft spot for literature can’t hurt either, of course. (laughs)
And which character traits are the most prominent ones to surface for you on the regular during the publishing routine?
Nina Pfeiler-Galos: The two first things that come to mind here are definitely a great organization and coordination skills! (laughs). With a veritable flood of requests from authors rushing in every day, you really have no other choice but to be well organized. Accuracy and diligence are a must where friendliness and helpfulness are, of course, a given by simple good manners!
You mentioned self-doubt in relation to the contact with authors. How do you handle these kinds of woes?
Tanja Ferscha: Thanks to our many years of experience we are well versed with the insecurities and anxieties our authors might struggle with in the beginning. These obstacles are a natural part of the process and are meant to be faced head-on together. We strive to prevent misunderstandings and possible errors by maintaining a constant stream of communication, providing every possible information from the very first contact. This is where our experience really pays off! It is especially gratifying to be able to dispel any of the writers’ doubts or worries with professional advice. The authors counting down the days to their publication, filled with heady anticipation – those are very special moments for us too!
Are there any success stories that you hold especially dear to your heart?
Nina Pfeiler-Galos: Every finished process is essentially a success story, a small victory, in its own right. But since this process does take a while, the authors become very dear to us. We are always especially touched when an author expresses their thanks to us in a special note.
Tanja Ferscha: Of course, we rejoice over all the different gifts of thanks that we receive! Among the many creative thank you notes we were also already given flowers or hand-painted pictures for example! Chocolates are a favorite of ours as well, of course! (laughs)
Could you give us an example?
Nina Pfeiler-Galos: Our resident author Stan Wolfe’s* success is something we are more than proud of. His series ‘Gems of Dominion’ has been a bestseller for years now, with the 10th book in the series coming out later this year. Stan has a huge fan community and it is always a pleasure to work with him. Still, the smaller successes never fail to bring joy as well! An example that comes to mind would be the cookbook ‘Treasures from the kitchen of Ayurveda’* – it has been received very well by readers and we even tried out a few of the recipes in the kitchen at novum publishing. Oh, and least we forget the sports bible ‘HBN – Human Based Nutrition’*, written by Holger Gugg, that motivated many of us readers to get active!
*Books are only available in German so far.
You support your authors unwaveringly from the very moment they sign their contract until their book is printed and ready to be picked up and read. How can the writers contribute to the publishing process, can they bring an especially positive influence?
Tanja Ferscha: Thou shalt be punctual – such is the golden rule for authors! The more writers cling to their deadlines, the faster we, in turn, can publish. The road to easy cooperation starts with doing the paperwork – filling out releases for covers, layout, editing, etc. and it ends with the release for the blurb and ads. Needless to say, we are always there to lend a hand! Yet, in the end, the rise and fall of their book’s planned final release date depends crucially on the author’s reliability and cooperation. Sensitivity, Communication skills but also the right critical faculties are of utmost importance in the process.
What about the creative leeway in the release process – does creativity literally have no bounds here or are there a few rules one simply cannot avoid playing by?
Nina Pfeiler-Galos: Fantasy knows no bounds – in principle. Our team at novum publishing is comprised of extremely creative minds, which is also playing a big role in our ability to make so many ideas come to life. Nearly everything is possible here. A good example to give are our book covers and layouts: they are created individually, each and every single one of them – they are unique. Up until today, there wasn’t a wish our graphic designers and layout could not grant. Should the rare case arise in which an initial wish cannot be realized by 100 percent, we will not rest until we have found an alternative that suits everyone.
The both of you have a good many years of experience in the publishing industry. Could you share one or two insider tips which you think could be of value for new authors on their way?
Tanja Ferscha: My personal advice for any new author is to delve deep into the waters of marketing! Contributing to the advertisement of their publications themselves is invaluable. Be it readings, social media ads or actively encouraging word-of-mouth with family and friends – it is vital for the success of your own first book not to shy away from marketing.
Nina Pfeiler-Galos: Communication is key! Any wishes pertaining cover design, layout and texts should always be uttered at the very start! Should something be unclear, we are always happy to help – the easiest way to do so, of course, is when we are asked about what is in the dark. Another important element is trust: Especially with new authors it is vital to give trust in our expertise and listen to our recommendations. Well, and of course the information sheets that accompany the signed contract should be read with diligence. If all those boxes have been ticked, there is nothing that could be standing in the way of a successful publication!
Thank you very much for the interview!
About the ladies:
Tanja Ferscha has been working for novum publishing since July of 2008. She is experienced in the proofreading department, layout and the manufacturing coordination, managed and delegated the coordination of external printing orders. Novum publishing’s very own resident authors rely on her personal counseling at fairs and public events. Her being an avid reader in her leisure time, her favorite reads are novels and guidebooks.
Nina Pfeiler-Galos, an invaluable member of novum publishing’s team since September of 2007, has been working in the organization of book fairs, took care of the supervision of novum’s booth at book events and has been involved with layout. The seasoned assistant editor has gathered an extensive knowledge of the many different parts and aspects of the publishing process. Her special gift for organization and coordination is not only showing at work, but also in private. Nina is in for the thrill in her leisurely choice of literature: crime stories full of suspense are her guilty pleasure.