Sep 01 2011

“My Publisher Beats Me Because It Loves Me” and Other Fun Links

I don’t agree with everything in this article about the publishing industry, which compares the average professional publisher to an abusive husband, but it might be really interesting, particularly if you were considering self-publishing before.

 

PS: One of the things the author complains about is awful cover-art. If that’s a problem for you, I’d recommend offering to pay a feelance illustrator (like Emily or Laura Dollie or Aguaplano or anyone that strikes your fancy here) to quickly do another version of the cover. The publisher might not actually end up using it, but I feel like it’d give you a good chance to undo a potentially costly mistake. (The faster the publisher sees the art, the easier it will be to use). Who knows, maybe even the publisher will comp you the $300-500.
 

The New York Times has a piece on encouraging novel-reading among boys.  As a child, I was really down on fiction because it felt very juvenile to me.  Almost all of the novels I read after turning ~9 were exclusively about adults doing adult things (frequently with firearms and axes).  Admittedly, my sample size of one is extremely small and idiosyncratic, but I just loathed young characters.

 

Some thoughts for parents trying to encourage their sons to read:

  • When your son(s) pick out video games or movies, how often do they reach for ones starring characters around their age?
  • If they tend to prefer adult protagonists in other media, why wouldn’t they prefer adult protagonists in books as well?
  • If your son is very literate but isn’t enthusiastic about novels with young characters, I’d recommend leaving some adult novels lying around.
  • Nonfiction is totally fine, too!  Some readers (particularly guys, I’ve noticed) are not particularly interested in fiction. That’s not a problem at all.  Extremely few educational and career paths require an enthusiasm for fiction.

9 responses so far

9 Responses to ““My Publisher Beats Me Because It Loves Me” and Other Fun Links”

  1. Beth MacKinneyon 01 Sep 2011 at 4:05 pm

    The post you pointed to was a LONG one, so I gave up somewhere after she fired her first agent but before I came to the bitter end.

    She is correct that the publisher gets to call the shots, and an author can be a little shocked by this because he thinks of a book as HIS book. But…it is the publisher, after all, who is laying out the cash for the book being published, and it is the publisher who is left holding the back it if the book doesn’t make the sales. No matter what anyone thinks, that gives them the right to make a lot of decisions, and I’d hardly put these in the same arena has wife-beating. The publisher’s goal is to make your book as successful as possible. In spite of this, it is a small percentage of the books published that actually carry the rest, better known as the mid-list.

    It’s all about business, and it’s not personal.

  2. B. McKenzieon 03 Sep 2011 at 9:24 am

    “She is correct that the publisher gets to call the shots, and an author can be a little shocked by this because he thinks of a book as HIS book.” I think authors may also be surprised by the disconnect between their expectations of publisher support and what they actually get. If you’re a midlist author, the publisher probably isn’t spending ANYTHING on marketing and promotional/sales assistance will be minimal. Some people involved in the process will not even have read the book, which occasionally leads to disasters like the Liars cover fiasco.



    The publisher’s main goal is to get a (usually) pretty good product with as little effort/manpower as possible. Authors usually want a spectacular, unique book, but that would take a lot of creative manpower most authors don’t have the sales clout to warrant. (Also, publishers are risk-adverse, and doing something similar to what has already worked usually looks safest).

  3. Danion 03 Sep 2011 at 10:59 am

    There’s actually not a lot a publisher can do for you especially if you are just starting. Assuming you get your novel picked up by one of the small or even mid size publishers, you will still have to do the majority of the marketing and sales yourself. A publisher will tend to focus on their front titles be they better sellers or just from friends. You get an advance of let’s say 2k which is quite generous. Now, you don’t get anymore royalties until that has been paid off. Even then, you will make, if you’re lucky, thirty cents off the dollar. That is even on the high side. So you do about 80% of the work including writing the thing to get about 30%? For people just starting, I have to say the Indie or self-pub is the best. The only down part is there is a good chance your book will not appear in normal bookstores BUT if you have a few independent bookstores in your area, you can ask if you could sell some there. They like highlighting local talent. Sadly, as a first time author it will be very difficult to convince publishers to take a chance on you. Even knowing people still makes them a bit wary when you say, “I have a great superhero novel.“ As for the big sellers like Tor, if you get a deal with them, listen to everything the publisher says. P.S. To hijack this thread a bit, I can’t respond or even look at your survey in my phone. It can’t handle its intoxication that well.

  4. C.R.on 03 Sep 2011 at 2:08 pm

    3000 bucks? @!#%*%& I thought sales were supposed to be up!

  5. B. McKenzieon 03 Sep 2011 at 2:20 pm

    “Assuming you get your novel picked up by one of the small or even mid size publishers, you will still have to do the majority of the marketing and sales yourself.” I think that’s also true for midlist authors at large publishers.

    “So you do about 80% of the work including writing the thing to get about 30%?” Well, if you’d like to put up your own money and are pretty business-savvy and able to learn a lot of things, I’d recommend self-publishing. BUT it’s much riskier. In most cases, I think the typical outcome for a professionally-published novel is something like a $4000-5000 advance + any royalties if you sell well enough to clear your advance (most don’t). In self-publishing, you’re looking at a $0 advance – production costs + a larger percentage of sales (but very few self-published authors crack 1000 copies).

    That said, the upside could be a lot bigger for self-publishing if you do sell many copies.

  6. Danion 03 Sep 2011 at 2:58 pm

    You don’t have to plunk down that much. If you do, you are probably marketing wrong or only selling paperback. With $0, you can upload and market an ebook to see if it sells. If not, oh well. If so, then maybe move into hard copies. Createspace charges you about $10 total since you have to buy a proof copy first. You don’t really need to spend much on cover art – stock photos and the like. Then plug away, find people to do reviews, etc. That is ongoing. The most expensive part would be paying an editor if you went that way. You are right that it takes a lot of work but not a lot of money. Publishing is changing to fit the market. More people are buying from home. I am not, I repeat, I am not saying if you have a deal with some publishing house to break it. Getting back to the main point of this article, yeah boys should read. LOL

  7. B. Macon 03 Sep 2011 at 8:47 pm

    “The most expensive part would be paying an editor if you went that way.” Unless you have a REALLY good friend that happens to be an editor, any editorial assistance will probably be rather expensive. I’m a relatively cheap freelance proofreader and I proofread for .8 cents per word for self-published authors ($640 for an 80,000 word novel). If you’re looking for more involved reviewing, like a stylistic edit, I think most editors would charge well beyond $1000. You could probably get most of the benefit by asking competent friends/family/beta reviewers, but if you had 10+ typos before, I don’t think that would suffice.

  8. Danion 04 Sep 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Your math is right and that is pretty cheap. I didn’t calculate in my head. Meh, just forget everything I said. I got to do it for cheap with some people I graduated with so my figures are all off. Best advice: make friends with English majors. LOL

  9. B. McKenzieon 04 Sep 2011 at 6:05 pm

    “Best advice: make friends with English majors.” Friendliness always goes a long way.

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