Ask Tania: How much of my in-process book should I reveal to the public?

Friday, 25 September 2015

Dear Tania,
How much should I say about my works in progress? I want to share what I’m working on but I’m unsure as to whether I should actually mention the book title or put some of the concept drawings up on my website. It’s not a question of being worried about someone else hearing my ideas, it’s more a matter of what level of exposure is the right amount. What would you suggest?

Hi, Jules,

The answer to this question depends on your publishing situation.

If you have a contract for a WIP (work in progress) and are actually in production, the general rule is to share either nothing, or very little until close to publication. You could check with your publisher for their thoughts on this. Some of my publishers allow little peeks at drafts or roughs (not finals or near-finals) and others would prefer nothing be revealed. Some creators post images that are a wee bit blurred or just a tiny slice of an image or character--but again, it's something you would need to check with your publisher.

Generally, however, you would not reveal the title or concept for your book, other than perhaps 'meet Johnny the astronaut' with an image rough. This reveals very little but piques interest.

I'm currently working on a picture book and I'll very occasionally share some peeks at my artwork along the way, but most of my 'reveals' will be about my creation processes rather than revealing too many visuals or concept reveals. You can see from this post just how much I've revealed/the focus of the reveal. The book isn't out till November 2016 and it's a comprehensive book with a high page count--so it's easy to reveal little bits. And I can continue to show little bits of my processes as time goes on.

At this stage in the book production process, I would never reveal title and content/concept. What I regularly do is add my WIPs to my Works in Progress list (you'll find it here, at the bottom of my BOOKS page)--but only when we are relatively close to publication, and again, depending on the publisher's wishes. You'll see on this list that I need to keep some titles quiet, so I've just written 'three more picture books, out 2017) or something like that. Other books, I actually mention the title.

If you are self-publishing or working on something that you will eventually submit (ie: you don't have a publishing contract with a traditional publisher), I think you can reveal a little more of your WIP than if you're contracted. Again, you want to be careful just how much because a little bit of mystery is a good thing. Revealing a lot or being 'everywhere all the time' can make people switch off, so balance things well.

I like how you said you're not worried that someone will steal your idea if you reveal a few things. Even if people could 100% guess what you're up to, the fear that your book will be snatched up and produced in a matter or weeks or months is highly unrealistic. And no one could ever do it as well as you're doing it, anyway!

I do think, in general, that reveals of some kind are a good thing because they build that all-important creator/reader relationship. People absolutely adore sneak peeks, and they can be a great thing if done well. They build anticipation and get people talking and bring people to your site/blog. And that's what we want!

If you have a character concept that you're keen to start marketing before the book is published, you could absolutely set up a Facebook page or website with a simple header image and a short synopsis. Don't give much away and perhaps just post little snippets on how things are progressing rather than showing too much imagery. The closer you get to publication, the more you can reveal.

When your WIP is close to publication, it's fine to begin revealing more. The cover (and this varies by publisher) is revealed to the public around 2 - 3 months before the publication date. A relatively short lead time is wise because people are strongly swayed by visuals and the last thing you'd want is people swooning over the cover, rushing out to buy it--and it's not available yet. Sale lost. If, however, they only have a few weeks to wait, they're more likely to track it down and buy it.

Good luck with the slow reveal!

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1 comment:

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Great question, Jules. Fabulous and informative advice, Tania! :) Enjoyed this post very much. :)

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