SOME ADVICE ABOUT TRADE PUBLISHERS
To ensure you're dealing with a genuine "trade" publisher, check to see that they belong to a recognized publishers' organization. U.S. publishers belong to the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Small publishers in Canada belong to the Independent Publishers Association of Canada.
Write a solid book proposal
Most large publishers only want to see proposals from agents
If you find a publisher (often a smaller one) who is willing to look at a proposal:
- send for a catalog, and make sure your book fits their line
- borrow a couple of their books from the library and read them to see
- go to the publishers' website, print out their guidelines, and follow them exactly
- read "How to Write a Book Proposal" by Michael Larson
- check the following sites, which contain helpful information:
- proofread your proposal carefully, because just one instance of poor spelling
Publishers expect you to promote your book.
Saying you're "available for interviews" isn't sufficient. You need to:
- provide a media list for your local area
- provide contacts with groups you belong to
- provide a list of local bookstores
Tell your publisher's marketing department:
- your ideas for marketing the book
- who you think is the primary target audience
- other groups who might be interested
- groups you belong to or might be able to speak to
Publishers love authors who travel regularly (whether for business or pleasure)
READ CONTRACTS CAREFULLY
Take special note of:
- any exclusions
- any reversionary interest
- a termination clause
- the accounting provision
If you don't understand what these terms mean, you need to consult a lawyer before you sign!
VALUABLE CONTRACT INFORMATION from Canadian lawyer
and writer Tim Perrin:
Contracts Checklist; An Offer You Can Refuse (S.M.A.R.T. Contracts)
HAVE YOUR CONTRACT REVIEWED by Barbara Florio Graham:
for considerably less than a lawyer would charge for the same service CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
There's a popular myth about successful authors getting rich from the huge advances they receive from publishers. In truth, publishers offer large adances only reluctantly, because seven out of every books published do not earn back the advance. Roy Blount Jr., the president of the Authors Guild, was recently quotes in a NYTimes article as describing what a reported six-figure advance really means. That may mean $100,000, minus 15 percent agents commission and self-employment tax, and if were comparing it to a salary let us recall (a) that it does not include any fringes like a desk, let alone health insurance, and (b) that the book might take two years to write and three years to get published. . . . So a six-figure advance, while in my experience gratefully received, is not necessarily enough, in itself, for most adults to live on.
In many standard contracts, the author receives upon signing the contract, another quarter on acceptance of the manuscript and a quarter on publication, but recent reports indicate that may be changing. One literary agent says, Now we see advance amounts being paid in thirds, fourths and even fifths. And most advances are not in the "six-figure" range. The average tends to be $30,000. That means if it takes you six months to write the book, another four months to find an agent and a publisher and then edit the manuscript, and a month after publication doing non-stop publicity, you will end up earning just $30,000 for almost a full year's work.
So whether you sign a contract with a trade publisher or whether you self-publish, writing books is not a way to become rich.