Archive for March, 2015

SMALL PRESSES AND INDEPENDENT HOUSES

March 27, 2015

Last week we talked about the facts regarding royalty house publishing. Now I’d like to spend a few minutes exploring small houses and independent publishers. These folks are my favorites, I’ll tell you up front. The editors and publishers work with little or no staff and usually produce the best books.

Most of the smaller houses produce between four and several hundred titles per year the smaller the house the less titles they will have. This makes for many positives and a few significant negative aspects.

Let’s talk about the positives first. Most of these houses do not receive four hundred titles a week. That means they can actually read your manuscript and I don’t me the title page and a few sentences of the first chapter. With luck the editor might have time to jot you a brief sentence or two explaining what they like or don’t like about your book.

If you are fortunate enough to land a contract with a small or independent house, your editor will work with you on a more personal basis and may go as far as telling you why that passage they want to delete “Just won’t work.”

The small and independent houses will probably at least show you your cover art and may go as far as getting your input on the art. This makes a wonderful relationship especially when your book is about rabbits and there’s a huge wolf with blood dripping from its mouth on the cover.

The biggest disadvantage to small or independent houses is the lack of marketing staff. If you’re not willing to make the telephone calls, knock on doors, and get your own book signings then a small or independent house might not be for you. Right now I’m working with an independent house which does have a marketing department and they are amazing. They’ve set up several signings including one at a local discount store and have provided me with a professional press release, which I can use and they are sending out to names I provided. It seems like heaven compared to a larger house, which sent out postcards and nothing more.

Royalties for small or independently published books can be little or none at all. Seriously consider your goal here. Is it to get the book out or make millions, if it’s millions skip over the smaller publishers and keep mailing to the big guys.

My best recommendation on smaller houses and independent publishers, if you don’t have a friend who has used them, is to check on the services they offer and make an informed decision. It can be wonderful or it can be a nightmare.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT GETTING PUBLISHED

March 20, 2015

It’s time to return to the original focus of these blogs—writing.  I’ve strayed from the subject for several years and I think it’s time to retrace my steps and talk about things I’ve experienced.  The purpose of these next few blogs is to bring want-to-be writers face to face with reality in a gentle way.  My purpose is not to discourage but to give you the information you need to make informed decisions. First, not to throw freezing water on a freezing body, but publishing is like playing the lottery—hundreds play only a few win.

It is my wish to catch you before you  make disastrous, expensive decisions that can’t be reversed. I tell folks that I’ve made most of the bad decisions possible in publishing.  What I’m hoping is that I can explain what those decisions are and how to avoid them.

For a while, perhaps two or three blogs, I’m going to focus book publishing and then drift off into articles and short stories.  I’ll talk about different types of publishing and try to give you the positives and negatives of each type.

ROYALTY PUBLISHING

This is every writers dream.  You write your book, a large publisher (think Putnam or Simon & Schuster) picks up the book for publishing and you earn millions in royalties and travel the country on their dime doing hundreds of book signings for adoring fans.

THE REALITY is…

The likelihood of a large publishing house picking up your book is very small. The reality of the publishing business is the bottom line.  They want a writer with some kind of proven track record—a huge following of potential buyers of the book or some outlandish disaster or rumor which the public will remember by the time the book is published in six months to a year from now.

Publishing advances for most authors are less than $10,000 with royalties ranging somewhere from 8% to %15 of the retail price of the book.  Most royalties don’t kick in until the advance is earned back.

If the publisher and your editor really believe in the book you might get a four to six signing schedule.  Usually this schedule includes large cities with large bookstores.  The reality may be that you will be responsible for setting up your own book signings.

For most authors, the most difficult part of getting a royalty contract will be the total loss of control of your book.  It is likely you will have no control over the cover artwork or the actual book set-up.  Once the book is accepted your job becomes correcting the proofs, working with the content editor and generally behaving yourself.

SMALLER ROYALTY PUBLISHERS are a bit different.  I’ve worked with three royalty publishers now.  One is very supportive and keeps me in the loop all the time.  I even get to help select my own cover art and jacket text.

One small publisher went under with no word of explanation leaving me with no access to my sales records and no revision of my rights.

The third publisher was difficult to work with in the formative stages, but shines on PR for the marketing.  The jury is still out.

Next time I’ll discuss other forms of publishing.

CHILDISH JOY

March 14, 2015

We’re too serious.  As I watched my now almost four-year-old crawl over, under, and around our Labrador Retriever giggling with every pass, I decided adults are way too serious.

I’m not suggesting that you try crawling around the family dog, but I am suggesting that you watch that young child in your life and enjoy the happiness they possess.  What better way to make it through a boring meeting or a dreadful afternoon of paperwork than to take a mini mental vacation by thinking about the latest childhood antics?  If you’re too old to crawl around the family dog, why not just take a quick stroll to the local park and sit on the bench near the playground and watch the children laugh at a swing ride or listen to the happy shrieks of a child coming down the slide?

Remembering the experiences from our own childhood should conger up a few happy memories that will hold us through our all too humdrum of a day.  This week try to take a few “happy” breaks.  Remember the childish joy and smile a bit more.  Try smiling at a child.  Get back some of that childish joy.

LISTENING IS IMPORTANT

March 6, 2015

Sometimes parents forget that listening is a two-way street. “Mommy, I hurt my thumb.” Mommy says, “Go Play.” Child says, “Mommy, I hurt.” “Go play.” “Mommy, I hurt my thumb.” Mommy says, “Go play or I taking you home.” “Okay,” says the child. The rest of the scenario goes something like this. The mother grabs the child and jerks him/her off the playground and into the car. What’s the behind the scenes is that after a nap the child wakes with a black and blue thumb swollen twice its normal size.

This is a listening problem and as much as we scream at children that they aren’t listening maybe it’s that we weren’t listening first. As a grandmother, I’ve been accused of spoiling my grandchildren, but I maintain I just have time to sit down and listen. Grandchildren appreciate that. It may not be as important as a sprained thumb. It may just be a fantastic dream or the product of a great imagination, but children want someone to listen.

In this age of texting, Facebook or Tweeting, we’ve lost the art of listening. It is a given that a child will never be the age they are at this moment again. In life, the movie GROUNDOG DAY is a fantasy, we can never rescind the comments we make or get back the comments we ignore.

We demand that children pay attention to what we say. We yell at them for ignoring us. But we need to remember that small voices are just as significant as large ones.