Archive for the ‘writing’ Category


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.


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 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.