Carly Silver Goes Behind the Scenes on the “Front Matter”

Carly Silver 05-14There was a recent article that said a manuscript goes through nearly thirty hands on its journey to a finished book. By now you’ve hopefully seen the two main ones–author and editor–go back and forth, with the senior editor weighing in on the actual acquisition. And the copyeditor for the manuscript, of course! But over the next few posts from Carly Silver, we’ll get a glimpse of some of the others steps on the path to the finished book…


What else makes up a book?

If you’re finishing up working on a Harlequin romance, your book is probably at the stage of “AAs.” This abbreviation for “author alterations” is a writer’s last pass at the manuscript, the final chance to make any changes, before it goes off to production. From there, it hits the shelf!

By the AA stage, the manuscript has already undergone revisions, edits, and copy edits. At this point, the author will generally limit his or her changes to tweaking a word here or there or responding to any queries that the editor had that still linger. Once in a blue moon, if the editor requests substantial revisions in the line edit stage, there might be a substantial amount of new text added in during the AAs. That wasn’t the case for Amy’s HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY, which was already in tip-top shape when it came time for AAs. After that, the manuscript went off to Pagination, which is the final typesetting step. Then, it was out of our hands and the production team worked its magic on the book, which will be out in September 2014 from Harlequin Special Edition.

The final addition to the material between the pages is the front matter, or prelims. The editorial team compiles these materials in a separate database called SMART (Systematically Managing Ancillary Related Text). The prelims for Harlequin series books consist of, in the following order: the back cover copy and Front Sales pages (which will be discussed in a forthcoming post), the Dear Reader letter, the title page, copyright page, the about the author/booklist page, and dedication (which can be left blank if the author does not wish to have a dedication). It’s important that these pages be formatted correctly, because the print book’s text must always start on an odd-numbered page.

As the editorial assistant for Special Edition, I help put together the prelims for all six books Special Edition puts out every month. It is my responsibility to gather and collate all of the materials for the coming out that month in our line; I also remind other editors to send their materials in, and communicate with authors to sendin their dedication and Dear Reader letter. That way, the prelims will be available on-time each month for Senior Editor Gail Chasan’s review.

The Dear Reader letter is always interesting to read, as it often provides insight into the author’s inspiration for wanting to write that particular story. Perhaps an author found her own happy-ever-after in a certain way and has the inclination to replicate her journey on the page. Or maybe a writer just adores reunion romances in small towns, so she created a story following that pattern. By the time you’re done reading the Dear Reader letter, you feel like you’ve gotten to know the author a little bit. This letter is still one of my favorite parts of reading series books because it establishes a connection between myself and the author.

The title page includes the author’s name above the book’s title. Below that is the Harlequin Special Edition logo, so the reader can easily identify to which line the volume belongs. Similarly, the copyright page is minimal, but quite important. The author’s name must appear as she wishes it to (and as she specified in her contract). For example, if an author wants her pseudonym, not her legal name, to appear on the copyright page, we will make sure that that’s the case.

Because HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY is Amy’s first novel, her book list was short. It lists the name of the line she’s writing for, the title of the book, and the book number. I can’t wait to see this list grow over time as Amy writes more books for us! Below the book list is the bio. Amy’s bio was concise, yet informative, telling the reader about her love for books and a bit about herself. She included fun details that, along with the Dear Reader letter, help people get to know her, like the fact that she has an adorable rescue dog and that she has had a lifelong passion for storytelling. Amy also smartly directed fans to the various social media platforms where they can reach her.

Amy’s dedication was lovely, mentioning her husband, mother, dog, and, to my delight, me! I was particularly touched when Amy included me in her dedication. Ever since I first knew I wanted to work in book publishing, years ago, I’d always dreamt of having my name mentioned in a dedication. For me, that’d be the big sign that I’d “made it” in publishing. In particular, working with Amy has been an absolute delight and I was honored that I was one of the people she chose to mention.

Next time, we’ll be looking at Amy’s first cover image and talking about what makes up the back cover copy and front sales. Thanks for joining us!

You can find out more about Carly on Twitter, @CarlyASilver, and find Amy as @AmyWoodsBooks.