Category : Publishing

  • February 29, 2012

    What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 3)

    by

    We've been exploring what you need to know when you approach a book contract. Here are five more questions to ask…

    11. Are there restrictions on the sale of the contract? Check to see if your publisher has the right to sell the entire deal to another house. This doesn't happen often, but it can happen, especially with smaller houses, and you need to be aware of the possibility. It would mean you go through the entire process of negotiating a deal with one house, then suddenly you find yourself working with another house. I once had a sleaze-ball publisher sign a well-known personality to a book, then immediately start shopping the contract… In other words, he never had any intention of publishing the book; he just wanted to sign a lowball deal and flip it to a bigger house. (This is something he admitted to me, but denied to the author. Mr. Sleazeball is now an agent, by the way.)

    12. If it all goes south, who pays for the lawyers? Remember that a contract is put in place to clarify two things: what will happen if everything goes well, and what will happen if everything goes to hell. A good contract covers both scenarios. In case of the latter, check to see who covers the cost of the lawyers. True story: A short while back I was sent a contract that called for the publisher to pick the lawyer, but the author to pay for it. Um… we suggested a minor wording change to keep the author from getting hosed.  

    13. Does your contract clarify what constitutes "out of print"? It should be simple: When the publisher is no longer selling your book, it's out of print. Don't get caught up in windy explanations of why publishing-on-demand titles constitute a book for sale. (Years ago, I worked on a deal where a publisher claimed

    Continue Reading "What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 3)"
  • February 29, 2012

    What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 3)

    by

    We've been exploring what you need to know when you approach a book contract. Here are five more questions to ask…

    11. Are there restrictions on the sale of the contract? Check to see if your publisher has the right to sell the entire deal to another house. This doesn't happen often, but it can happen, especially with smaller houses, and you need to be aware of the possibility. It would mean you go through the entire process of negotiating a deal with one house, then suddenly you find yourself working with another house. I once had a sleaze-ball publisher sign a well-known personality to a book, then immediately start shopping the contract… In other words, he never had any intention of publishing the book; he just wanted to sign a lowball deal and flip it to a bigger house. (This is something he admitted to me, but denied to the author. Mr. Sleazeball is now an agent, by the way.)

    12. If it all goes south, who pays for the lawyers? Remember that a contract is put in place to clarify two things: what will happen if everything goes well, and what will happen if everything goes to hell. A good contract covers both scenarios. In case of the latter, check to see who covers the cost of the lawyers. True story: A short while back I was sent a contract that called for the publisher to pick the lawyer, but the author to pay for it. Um… we suggested a minor wording change to keep the author from getting hosed.  

    13. Does your contract clarify what constitutes "out of print"? It should be simple: When the publisher is no longer selling your book, it's out of print. Don't get caught up in windy explanations of why publishing-on-demand titles constitute a book for sale. (Years ago, I worked on a deal where a publisher claimed

    Continue Reading "What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 3)"
  • February 28, 2012

    What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 2)

    by

    Okay, so you've got a book contract, and you're wondering what you don't know. Here are a few more questions to ask…

    6. When will the book be published? In most book contracts there is a window that explains your book will be made available for sale within two years. I recently saw a contract that had a five-year window on it, and another contract that didn't limit the publishing time at all. The danger (and it's happened to others) is that you'll turn in a book the publisher keeps forever but never actually publishes. Generally you want wording where the publisher makes a legal promise to produce your print book in an 18-to-24 month window, your ebook faster. 

    7. When are advances paid? Make sure you know when you're getting paid. Traditionally an author received half the advance on signing and the other half on completion. Many of the New York houses now pay one-third on signing, one-third on delivery, and one-third on publication. Random House has this author-unfriendly clause that calls for one quarter of the advance to be paid a year after the book releases (so it's not really an "advance," it's more like a "delay"). And HarperCollins pays a portion of the advance after the author has filled out a marketing questionnaire — their way of making sure they get their information. I recently saw a contract that called for the advance to be broken into eighths (signing, completion of a questionnaire, after an interview with marketing, completion of the manuscript, completion of typesetting… um…the next full moon, etc.)

    8. When are royalties paid? Many publishing houses pay twice per year. Some of the larger houses pay quarterly. I still see some contracts that call for royalty payments to authors once per year… and no, that publisher won't be offering to pay you interest on that money they've been holding for you. And

    Continue Reading "What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 2)"
  • February 28, 2012

    What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 2)

    by

    Okay, so you've got a book contract, and you're wondering what you don't know. Here are a few more questions to ask…

    6. When will the book be published? In most book contracts there is a window that explains your book will be made available for sale within two years. I recently saw a contract that had a five-year window on it, and another contract that didn't limit the publishing time at all. The danger (and it's happened to others) is that you'll turn in a book the publisher keeps forever but never actually publishes. Generally you want wording where the publisher makes a legal promise to produce your print book in an 18-to-24 month window, your ebook faster. 

    7. When are advances paid? Make sure you know when you're getting paid. Traditionally an author received half the advance on signing and the other half on completion. Many of the New York houses now pay one-third on signing, one-third on delivery, and one-third on publication. Random House has this author-unfriendly clause that calls for one quarter of the advance to be paid a year after the book releases (so it's not really an "advance," it's more like a "delay"). And HarperCollins pays a portion of the advance after the author has filled out a marketing questionnaire — their way of making sure they get their information. I recently saw a contract that called for the advance to be broken into eighths (signing, completion of a questionnaire, after an interview with marketing, completion of the manuscript, completion of typesetting… um…the next full moon, etc.)

    8. When are royalties paid? Many publishing houses pay twice per year. Some of the larger houses pay quarterly. I still see some contracts that call for royalty payments to authors once per year… and no, that publisher won't be offering to pay you interest on that money they've been holding for you. And

    Continue Reading "What does an author need to ask about book contracts? (Part 2)"
  • February 17, 2012

    Does the publisher lose money if my book doesn't earn out?

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    Brynn asked, "Does a publisher lose money if a book doesn't earn out?"

    I get this question a lot, and to answer it I need to beg your forebearance… Let me answer this with hard numbers, so that I can make my case. It will take a couple minutes to run the numbers.

    Remember, every business can lose money. Retail shops, service business, even publishers. I mean, if you own a shoe store, you order in shoes that don't sell, and you have to drastically reduce prices, you can lose money on each pair of shoes sold. Publishing is no different. The publishing house pays out advances, they pay an editor, hire a cover designer, buy ink and paper, then pay a printer, and cover overhead such as the light bill and the editor's long distance phone calls. A lot of expenses are involved in every book. I like and respect publishers, and as a longtime agent, I WANT them to make money and stay in business. So I'm just answering a question, not writing a polemic. 

    That said, the argument put forth that an unearned advance equals a loss for a publisher just isn't true. (Or at least not the whole truth.) All you have to do is look at some math…

    Let's take some big book the publisher is doing with a celebrity. She's created a $25 hardcover book, and the publisher has paid her a $100,000 advance. The average discount a bookstore gets when ordering a book is roughly 50% — so they're paying the publisher $12.50 for that book. (In reality, it could be less, and there are a thousand factors determining that amount, but let's use a conservative 50% for the sake of clarity). From that amount, you have to subtract the author royalty on the first 5000 copies (the author will be paid $2.50 per book), the next 5000 copies ($3.125 per book), and

    Continue Reading "Does the publisher lose money if my book doesn't earn out?"
  • February 6, 2012

    Who REALLY Needs a Publisher? (A guest blog)

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    Let’s talk about the word publisher for a moment. The notion of a publisher has changed recently. We used to think of the Big Six — the old-school thinking, where they pay you a pittance, take on 1-to-4 new authors a year, and rely on their current bestselling novelists to pay all the bills. Their attitude is frequently, "No platform? No past sales? Then no deal."  They focus on retailers, not readers. They dread having "midlist" authors. Isn't there another way to think of a publisher?  

    The last few years have brought us the "new model" publisher — an indie publisher who is more of a publishing partner than a publishing boss. They do both print books and e-books, and they don't think anything to do with digital books are evil. They've learned to sell to readers, not just to retailers. And they understand that the huge majority of authors are mid-listers — people who have another job because they don't really make enough from their books to be full-time writers. Best of all, they've figured out that a "midlist" author might actually be able to make a living at this writing thing, if only the writer learns how to work the online game. 

    Let me tell you my own story: I went full time at writing with only two books to my name. My first book (Sweet Dreams) came out in all its unedited glory, in December of 2008. By the time my next book was out and I starting to figure out this business, I had hit the Amazon bestseller list. I was #1 in three categories for over two years. I went full time at this in November 2009, and started my own company, StoneHouse Ink. We now have about 40 authors and are blessed to have around 10 bestsellers with us. I speak all over the country about publishing, online marketing, creating eBooks, and the

    Continue Reading "Who REALLY Needs a Publisher? (A guest blog)"
  • February 6, 2012

    Who REALLY Needs a Publisher? (A guest blog)

    by

    Let’s talk about the word publisher for a moment. The notion of a publisher has changed recently. We used to think of the Big Six — the old-school thinking, where they pay you a pittance, take on 1-to-4 new authors a year, and rely on their current bestselling novelists to pay all the bills. Their attitude is frequently, "No platform? No past sales? Then no deal."  They focus on retailers, not readers. They dread having "midlist" authors. Isn't there another way to think of a publisher?  

    The last few years have brought us the "new model" publisher — an indie publisher who is more of a publishing partner than a publishing boss. They do both print books and e-books, and they don't think anything to do with digital books are evil. They've learned to sell to readers, not just to retailers. And they understand that the huge majority of authors are mid-listers — people who have another job because they don't really make enough from their books to be full-time writers. Best of all, they've figured out that a "midlist" author might actually be able to make a living at this writing thing, if only the writer learns how to work the online game. 

    Let me tell you my own story: I went full time at writing with only two books to my name. My first book (Sweet Dreams) came out in all its unedited glory, in December of 2008. By the time my next book was out and I starting to figure out this business, I had hit the Amazon bestseller list. I was #1 in three categories for over two years. I went full time at this in November 2009, and started my own company, StoneHouse Ink. We now have about 40 authors and are blessed to have around 10 bestsellers with us. I speak all over the country about publishing, online marketing, creating eBooks, and the

    Continue Reading "Who REALLY Needs a Publisher? (A guest blog)"
  • January 24, 2012

    Who Needs a Publisher?

    by

    In these times of self-publishing, ebooks, bookstore closures, agents turning into publishers, and the crumbling of the traditional publishing model—who needs a publisher?

    May I offer an indie publisher’s perspective on that question?

    First: Ask yourself if you know the industry. Many writers seem to have no clue about the changes in the publishing market. You need to do your research, learn book marketing, and educate yourself. One day your publisher is going to ask you, “What is your marketing plan?”, and if you say, “I can email my friends and do a book signing…”, there is a good chance your book will fail. No matter what path you take to publish, you will be responsible to market your book. Not the publisher—you.

    Second: Ask yourself if want a publisher. You may feel you don’t need a publisher these days, as you can do much on your own. But a publisher can do it faster and better, and brings expertise to the process… so do you want a publisher? (And when I say “publisher” I mean the indie publisher, the new model publisher, the partner publisher, or someone who is not stuck in the old way of doing business. I do not mean the Big 6 or old-school, dying on the vine publishers who seem to think eBooks and news of thinking are evil.)

    The fact is, a good publisher can do a few things for you that you can’t do on your own. But that will cost you something. You will give up part of your royalty to cover their services. Think of a publisher as someone who knows 50 people that you need to meet in order to get your book into reader’s hands. All a publisher does is make the introductions:

    ·      A publisher can get your book into bookstores. To sell with Ingram you need 10 titles before they will even talk to you.

    Continue Reading "Who Needs a Publisher?"
  • January 24, 2012

    Who Needs a Publisher?

    by

    In these times of self-publishing, ebooks, bookstore closures, agents turning into publishers, and the crumbling of the traditional publishing model—who needs a publisher?

    May I offer an indie publisher’s perspective on that question?

    First: Ask yourself if you know the industry. Many writers seem to have no clue about the changes in the publishing market. You need to do your research, learn book marketing, and educate yourself. One day your publisher is going to ask you, “What is your marketing plan?”, and if you say, “I can email my friends and do a book signing…”, there is a good chance your book will fail. No matter what path you take to publish, you will be responsible to market your book. Not the publisher—you.

    Second: Ask yourself if want a publisher. You may feel you don’t need a publisher these days, as you can do much on your own. But a publisher can do it faster and better, and brings expertise to the process… so do you want a publisher? (And when I say “publisher” I mean the indie publisher, the new model publisher, the partner publisher, or someone who is not stuck in the old way of doing business. I do not mean the Big 6 or old-school, dying on the vine publishers who seem to think eBooks and news of thinking are evil.)

    The fact is, a good publisher can do a few things for you that you can’t do on your own. But that will cost you something. You will give up part of your royalty to cover their services. Think of a publisher as someone who knows 50 people that you need to meet in order to get your book into reader’s hands. All a publisher does is make the introductions:

    ·      A publisher can get your book into bookstores. To sell with Ingram you need 10 titles before they will even talk to you.

    Continue Reading "Who Needs a Publisher?"
  • August 10, 2010

    NEWSDAY TUESDAY …

    by

    Digby and his mates

    Okay, so it's nearly Wednesday. We brought our new puppy (as opposed to "old puppy?") home today, so I've been writing this between other things as well as helping with trips to the appointed piddle spot and throwing treat parties when Digby succeeds doing his business. 

    (Digby's the cute one on the far left.)

    IN OTHER (far more relevant) NEWS:

    In case you haven't heard, we've added a new agent to our rolls here at MacGregor Literary. Amanda Luedeke made her conference debut this past week with us here at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. All signs are pointing to her potentially having signed her first author already! 

    Our fabulous friend and local author Hillary Manton Lodge simply couldn't take it anymore. While at the conference last week she took professional quality photos and headshots for all of us – keep your eye out soon for new photos of us all — even if I am doing "that funny thing with my head" I'm sure our new pics will help us all appear far more professional.

     LIST AND REVIEW NEWS:

    Gina Holmes' CROSSING OCEANS, her novel published by Tyndale, is on the August CBA bestseller list.
    John Wilson, the editor of Books & Culture magazine (an online
    publication of Christianity Today) gave J. Mark Bertrand's BACK ON
    MURDER high marks.
    http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/august/wilson081010.html

    UPCOMING RELEASES:

    Susan Meissner's next novel, LADY IN WAITING, is releasing this week
    with Waterbrook. It weaves the story of a contemporary couple with that
    of Lady Jane Grey, and has been very much anticipated by those who
    enjoyed THE SHAPE OF MERCY and WHITE PICKET FENCES.

    Chad Gibbs' GOD AND FOOTBALL is releasing this week from Zondervan.
    It's his look at the both faith and fanaticism with people who follow
    SEC football.

    Keep an eye out for Serena Miller's historical Amish tale, LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO.

    Julie Cannon is busy
    at work on her next

    Continue Reading "NEWSDAY TUESDAY …"