Saturday, April 5, 2014

Breaking Down the House: Major Departments in a Publishing House

Today we are going to discuss the Creative Department and the Sales Department.

But first, I'd like to apologize for taking so long in getting this post up. I've been fighting the flu and pneumonia for the past 2.5 weeks and I am just today feeling a small amount of energy. I can tell you this - the crud sucks! And this is with both a flu and pneumonia shot. My wish for you is that you are healthy, stay healthy, and that you remember to enjoy good health.

Okay, now onward to the important stuff.


This department many times has various designers, such as, the jacket art designers, the book interior designers, and perhaps promotional art designers.

This is an extremely important department as it is this department that puts together the book's very first impression on your reader. It is the jacket cover along with the book's title that will catch your reader's eye and entice them to turn the page.

Your novel may be written by you, but it is a team effort to whip it into shape from head to toe. You supply the words; the jacket art designers give it it's best face; the book interior designers provide the best layout with things such as catchy headings, paragraph dividers, and creative page numbering; and the promotional art designers would provide design for seasonal publisher catalogs, book marketing campaigns, as well as other materials.

I self published my first novel, The Consequential Element. Since I have extensive graphic design skills  (19 years worth) I drew heavily on my experience when designing the book cover. I have had much positive feedback and have even received many requests to do other's covers. If you visit my website you will also see a pre-cover for my second novel, Mists of Bayou Rhyne which I have designed, however, since I have sought the traditional route for this book, the cover is now in the hands of the publisher's creative department.


This department is critical to your book because it is what gets your book to market and into other formats and media. There are various sales departments with this division. For this section I found a wonderfully informative blog post at that thoroughly breaks down the different sections.

Digital Sales

Many large houses are increasingly hiring people to oversee the creation, marketing, and distribution of eBooks including online promotions, sales, and other digital initiatives.

Subsidiary Rights

Subsidiary rights are the rights the author grants the publisher to 'sub-license' the book for various formats and adaptations in addition to the original format.

You will find this as a part of your book contract which will outline the subsidiary rights that will be granted by agreement, as well as the percentage of the sub-license fees to be received by the publisher from any third party licensor that will go to the author.

The Subsidiary Rights department in the publishing house is charged with selling subsidiary rights to the parties who will sell them; i.e., book clubs, audiobook publishers, foreign publishers, movie producers, and the like.

There are many types of subsidiary rights, but for the sake of this post we will list only a few of the most common found in book contracts:

First Serial rights - this refers to the use of the book's content as in excerpts, condensing, digests for use in newspapers, magazines, or periodicals before the work is published in book form. This can be useful in non-fiction books and can help create the 'buzz' that is needed to prompt sales.

Second Serial rights - same as in First Serial Rights, but these are given after the work is published in book form.

There are also Trade or Mass Market Paperback rights where, if the book is in hardcover, the publisher will sell the rights for the paperback reprint, and Book Club rights where the books may be offered to the book club subscribers at an off price.

I have recently been in discussion with the creative department from a publishing house regarding the jacket for my upcoming book, Mists of Bayou Rhyne. It is an interesting experience. Although I have a pretty good idea of what I'd like the cover to look like, it seems that I will ultimately have very little say in the end product. I do have to say that I am pleased that they are taking into consideration my thoughts and suggestions, but in the end, they will prevail. :) For the better, I'm sure. It's just difficult giving up any control over my own work. After all, Mother knows best... right? hmmm

As always, I hope you found this information to be... well... informative. :) Don't forget to come back next week for the Marketing, Promotion & Advertising portion of our Breaking Down the House: Major Departments Within a Publishing House series.

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Until next time, I wish you much success in all that you do.


Dee Ann Waite was born in Fall River, Massachusetts and grew up in a small town named Somerset; a town she relates to Stephen King's Derry, Maine. A town where the people are pleasant, the landscape well maintained, and dark secrets are kept. She currently resides along the central east coast of Florida. She released her debut novel THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT in 2013, and has recently completed her second novel MISTS OF BAYOU RHYNE which is currently being considered for agenting by the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, horseback riding, and nature. She owns a pet photography business and branches out her love for photography by visiting the Everglades and swamps in search of alligators and exotic birds. When at home, she cherishes a chilled glass of wine while sitting in her garden with her dog Dodger.