It’s totally normal to come into the publishing industry with a hundred questions. There’s a lot to know! But at Mascot, we work diligently with our authors to give them all the information they need throughout the entire publishing process.
As a reference, our departments answered some of the most commonly asked questions that we get from authors. Read away and come back to us if you have any more questions!
Do I need to copyright my book before sending it?
No! The electronic time stamp on your manuscript acts as your copyright until a book is published. You can always fill out a form on the Library of Congress website to obtain copyright before sending it, but it is not necessary to.
What does the submission process look like?
You can fill out a form on our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org with a book synopsis idea. Once we receive your submission, an acquisitions editor will reach out to request a manuscript if we are interested in the book and a manuscript draft was not sent. We then review the title, provide feedback, and set up a phone call if we’d like to move forward with the project.
Are all books accepted?
Mascot Books does have a selection process for titles so, unfortunately, not all titles are accepted.
Is the acquisitions editor the main point of contact?
The acquisitions editor is your first point of contact and they handle the submission process and creating your contract. They become part of your team if you end up signing with us, but you are also introduced to a production editor as the main point of contact for that stage in the process.
Board and Children’s Books
How will I find the right illustrator for my picture book?
Your production editor will guide you through the illustration process so that you can be matched with the best fit for the style and content of your book. By browsing through curated lists of artist portfolios and getting test sketches from different illustrators, you’ll be able to winnow down to a list of contenders from which you will ultimately pick your book artist! Your production editor will also work with you to come up with storyboard ideas so that when the time comes to begin the storyboarding process with the artist, you’ll already have a headstart on preparing descriptions and ideas for the artist (who will also bring their own unique spin and technique in conjunction with your own preferences).
Does it take longer to produce a board book than a picture book?
Yes! Because board books are made of sturdier paper stock, they take longer to print. On average, board books take about ~3 months longer at the printing stage than picture books or standard adult hardcovers and paperbacks.
Adult & Chapter Books
How long does production take/last?
Production can take anywhere from six months to several years, depending on the project! The average time is about a year, and depending on the length of the manuscript and other factors like cover design, layout, and editing, it can be pretty variable. The shorter and cleaner the manuscript, the faster it can go through the production process. For longer, complicated books with appendices and bibliographies, we project more than a year. It all depends, and every project is unique in its own way!
Can I work directly with my editor/illustrator?
We prefer to keep editing in-house, but when we do pull in ghostwriters, freelance copyeditors, or writing coaches, our authors can work directly with them for a customizable and interactive experience. Communication between authors and illustrators is usually mediated by your production editor, but you’ll always be kept in the loop and have your vision represented during the artist process.
Do I get to give feedback on my cover?
Absolutely! Our authors are always deeply involved in the cover process. We often ask for cover “mood boards” or “wishlists” to get us started, and we use our expertise, the content of the book, and your guidance to craft cover mockups that you will be able to review and revise.
Registration & Marketing
Why did I originally think my release date was earlier? What is the difference between book-in-hand and release date? Why does the release date have to be so far out?
Book-in-Hand date is the date when you will receive your own physical copies of the book. This stock is yours to do with as you please, whether that’s selling to bookstores directly, giving them away to charities, or handselling to customers who have contacted you. The retail release date is the date that the retailers and distributors Mascot works with can start shipping out copies of your book for online orders.
The 2-3 month gap between when you receive your books in hand and when they are officially released is needed to allow ample time for distributors to order, check-in, and prepare stock for online orders. Otherwise, we run the risk of your listings going live before the retailer is ready to fulfill orders.
Why won’t my listing appear on Amazon or another retailer site when I type in the title?
Amazon’s search results are generated based on their SEO (search engine optimization) system, which is ultimately an algorithm that takes into account common products customers are searching with specific keywords. Your title has *this word* and *this word* in it, which is/are commonly searched words and most likely the main reason why the search results are showing a wide range of random products. As you begin to generate pre-orders and more people are searching specifically for your title, this will correct itself and you’ll begin to see your book higher on search results. It also makes a difference if customers are searching in a specific department or category versus through the main search bar. It’s very common for customers to try a few different searches by switching up keywords or departments if it doesn’t work the first time, so it shouldn’t affect too many customers specifically seeking out your product.
How do I get my book into retail stores like Target and Costco?
Some of our distribution partners onboard all of our book titles automatically once they’re registered, while others work on a pitch system. That said, we can only expect to have our titles on certain online retailer sites: Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you want an in-store placement or an online listing with another retailer or independent bookstore, you would have to reach out to them directly.
What does pitching look like?
I’d first start with a pitch email that includes your retail price, market fit, ISBN, book description, distributor information/purchasing options, and a request to have a discussion via phone call or meet up. If you plan to meet with them, I would bring a sample copy of your book and all the information about your release date and registration. I’d also attach or bring any marketing materials, specifically the press release (since it formally announces your book) and one-page flyer (since it contains all the information they need straightforwardly and concisely).
What is NetGalley?
NetGalley helps authors promote digital review copies to book advocates, industry professionals, and readers from many walks of life (bloggers, librarians, members of the media, etc). This platform is a wonderful way to get your book discovered and recommended by a large audience, and get reviews!
Why does the shipping date keep changing?
Any shipping date that we receive from our printers is always going to be an estimate. Therefore, these can change by a few days or even weeks. If we give you an estimated ship date, we recommend that you don’t plan anything around it since there’s always a chance it can change.
What is included in the sales report? What about the royalty report?
The sales report, which can be generated any time after your book-in-hand date, shows every order from distributors and consumers who purchased through the Mascot listing. Please keep in mind that not all the numbers are a reflection of how many books have been sold since distributors order copies for their stock inventory. Distributors and retailers are not required to disclose sell-through numbers and have varying degrees of transparency. Many distributors do not release which retailers have ordered through them, so you can only see the distributor name on the sales report.
The royalty report, which is sent out quarterly from when your book arrived at our warehouse, summarizes your sales and earnings. This includes the net number of paid sales and returns, the individual paid sales and returns (similarly to the sales report), and the remaining unpaid sales from the author.
When will preorders be shipped? How long does it take after they’ve arrived at the warehouse?
Any preorders made through the Mascot website will be shipped once we receive stock. Usually, the warehouse needs a few days to check in and process the stock before they can start shipping orders. Then, it depends on the mailing address location and the number of books to determine how long shipping will take.
How many books should I have shipped to me, and how many should I keep for sellers like Amazon, Mascot, and Barnes & Noble?
Your audience, current events, geography, and all kinds of other factors affect this decision. Ultimately, if you plan on doing more events and signings, taking several hundred books in hand is a good start. However, if you plan to do mostly online sales, keeping the majority in the warehouse is likely the best plan. At the end of the day, you know your readers the best, and being able to get a sense of their purchasing reach is very useful.
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