“Book Review: Before and After the Book Deal”
Reviewed by Joe Walters
Like sharing a coffee with a kind and witty mentor, Before and After the Book Deal is an ideally conversational guide to traditional publishing.
When I first saw Courtney Maum’s Before and After the Book Deal on my social media feed, I knew I had to have it. The title is straightforward. The cover design, direct. I knew that once I cracked open that first page, I’d be taking an active step toward filling my well of knowledge about traditional publishing. What I didn’t expect was just how damn funny Maum would turn out to be.
I approached this book as both a writer and as a human in the publishing industry (thanks to IBR, Sunbury Press, and Paper Raven Books), so when I saw this book cross my desk, I got excited that I’d discover even more about publishing and marketing that I didn’t know. I had a good feeling about it.
And lucky for me, I got what I was expecting—and then some.
The first section in this book (“Before the Book Deal”) took me by surprise, as it’s focused on writing—and not just the business part of it. It’s been a while since I delved into the world of Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, so this first section feels special to me—an opportunity to fall in love with writing again instead of thinking solely about publishing, to make sure that I’ve done all I can to prepare myself (and my editing clients) for the business that comes after the art.
Once Maum is done talking about the actual creation of your book, she takes us through the information we all need to know to get our books into agents’ hands, to better understand book deals, to see through the financials, and to tackle the tasks that you have to take on once your book has finally been accepted.
Here’s a small outline of what you can expect to learn about the business side of publishing in Before and After the Book Deal:
- Understanding the terms and financials of book advances
- Setting up your book’s launch
- Requesting and writing blurbs
- Completing both DIY book tours and publisher-paid book tours
- Battling envy aside better-selling and better-promoted authors
- Handling your email and social media
I deeply enjoyed a number of the topics Maum covers in this gem of a nonfiction authorship book. Perhaps one of my favorite bits of advice is her recommendation that authors attend as many reading series and reading events they can get to. This way, authors can not only support the literary community, but they can also learn about their own writing by cringing their way through unnecessary tangents, laughless inside jokes, and potentially offensive content. I thought this was a wonderfully unique way of thinking about revising your work by thinking of an audience.
As a whole, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the reading experience I got out of Before and After the Book Deal. It gives us the information we’re looking for, and it makes us laugh along the way.
If you’re in search of a guide that’s both intensely readable and undeniably practical (which, let’s be honest, you are), strap on your swimming cap and dive headfirst into this book. I’d offer you my copy, but there’s no way in hell I’m letting it out of my sight.
Paperback: 384 pages
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