Author Topic: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?  (Read 4777 times)

Offline Talisman

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2007, 10:30:25 AM »
Me too, and I have to say, I agree with everything that has been written (except by Georganna). Nothing personal, it's just that my experience has been different - we have an old but true saying here in England - the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Don't knock it then until you've tried it !

June 
I used to be an aetheist until I realised I was God
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http://juneaustin.blogspot.com/
http://conversationswithpod.blogspot.com/ - helping POD authors publicise their work

crystalwizard

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2007, 10:42:21 AM »
It is always a surprise that not every book on a publisher's list will get full distribution. A person who doesn't learn the industry for themselves is flying blind if they think every good book will be on the front table at Barnes & Noble simply because the store manager likes the book. It doesn't work that way at all, does it Crystal?

Not in the least. The publishing industry is a business and is driven like any other business, by someone trying to anticipate what the customers will most likely buy and pushing that. It has very little to do with the quality or content of the items offered and everything to do with marketing.

The publisher wants to make his money back, so he pushes hardest on the books he feels he can sell to the stores. Those are the books that match what's currently selling the most. The book store wants to make their investment back. They pay upfront for the books, not on consignment. So they insist on being able to return what doesn't sell and gravitate toward buying what has been selling.

Both break out of that pattern only if marketing can generate enough customer demand for something else.

The writer with stars in her eyes, who sees news reports of crowds mobbing book stores for the latest novel from J.k. Rowling or some other big name, doesn't realize how much work, and money, went into creating that demand. That writer also doesn't see that Ms. Rowling (and others) don't make most of their money on their books. They make most of their money on speaking engagements, toys based on their books and other peripheral items.

Anyone that's written a book and thinks they are just going to hand it to a publisher then sit back while the money rolls in, is dreaming. It doesn't happen. To anyone. No matter how big a name you are.

It's not just Indie writers that suffer from that fantasy though. There are plenty of people who go the tradtional route and who do not make themselves as marketable as possible. You might find 1 or 2 copies of their books in Barnes and Noble. More likely, you'll have to special order them, just like any Indie author who's books are being distributed by Ingram or others.

A fellow author I know, who has a couple books published by DAW, just spent his weekend at a large convention. He did this, not because he wanted to go to the convention, but because he booked table space in the dealers room. He spent most of his weekend sitting behind a table, talking to convention gores, and trying to sell his book. He did sell quite a few, and is happy about it, but HE did the marketing, not DAW. Unfortunatly, HE didn't keep all the profits, because DAW got their cut right off the top.



Oddly enough, I believe it is important to know these things to be able to decide which publishing option best fits each ms. Which choice gives each book its best shot at sales is the question to be asked.
 

Very true words. Just like any other industry. If you want to sell decorated cakes, hand-made blankets, or pest control services, you'd better do extensive research into the field before you go into business. Even if you are just going to hire on some where as an employee, you'd better do your homework, or you'll be in trouble.

Nadine L

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2007, 10:50:13 AM »
And, the reason the royalty rate isn't much different from one book to another is that most books don't earn back their advance. So, another book has to out sell expectations to off set the loss.

Nadine

Patx

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2007, 10:56:37 AM »
Very interesting debate!

For most people it's hard enough becoming a good writer, to become a good publisher too!

I would be interested in the experiences of any self-publishers whoo have gone on to publish writers other than themselves.

Most writers submit work through the established routes, not only because it makes sense to take the line of least resistance first, but because these established publishers and gents know what they are doing.

I would be happy to be good enough at one thing, to be good enough at writing would be great, to be good at artwork, marketing, sales, distribution, accounts - too much for me and I'd never get any more writing done

I have known someone who wrote and had printed up, non-fiction (actually maybe they were fiction!) self-help, business guru type books - he got them in a few independent bookshops in London on a sale or return basis, after pitching shop managers for about an hour a time - he hardly sold any.

It's a hard business and all his time was being spent free of charge - when I knew him, he was on his uppers

Offline markb

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2007, 11:13:32 AM »
Most traditionally published authors make very little money from their books over and above what they are paid upon signing a contract with the publishers - often this is just a few thousand pounds. The average wage in the industry is 5000 a year assuming the author continues to write and publish regularly.

Publishers rarely promote the books of new or minor authors well enough to sell enough copies to begin paying royalties. They expect the author to do most of the promotion via book signings, interviews, seminars and other personal appearences.



Mark.

crystalwizard

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2007, 11:25:29 AM »
And, the reason the royalty rate isn't much different from one book to another is that most books don't earn back their advance. So, another book has to out sell expectations to off set the loss.

Nadine

Very true. It's common to see a post from someone celebrating that they earned off the advance. Most don't get there, and publishers tend to give out lower and lower advances, the more books from an author which don't earn off the advance.

That advance is based on what the publisher feels the book's potential to make a profit is.

If the publisher offers you a 10,000 dollar advance (sorry, I don't know Euros), you can bet that he's figuring that the book will make at least 2x that. Most of those profits aren't going into his pocket though. He's got to figure in publishing costs (those aren't cheap), marketing (even more expensive) and other costs. He pays you that cash out of his pocket and takes a gamble he'll get it back. If he doesn't, he's not going to want to take another chance on you.

Now ask yourself: If HE thinks your book might make 20,000 and is willing to give you 10,000 in advance then a trickle of the profit off the sale of every other book after that... then what is he going to do to ensure that it does? Likely he's going to expect you to be actively involved in selling that book with his marketing team at the very least.


Quote from: PatX
Most writers submit work through the established routes, not only because it makes sense to take the line of least resistance first, but because these established publishers and gents know what they are doing.


Very true, but what they should be doing is going to small press and accepting a small royalty on the sale of each book to start with. It gets publication credit on their resume and makes them much more attractive to the traditional press publishers. Less of a gamble. They might not be big name best sellers, but if they can walk into a traditional house with a stack of 5 or 6 books to their name which have been consitantly selling, and some customer name recognition building in the field, the traditional houses are going to be a lot more likely to accept them. It's a lot eaiser to sell someone with that kind of rep than a complete unknown.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2007, 11:34:19 AM by crystalwizard »

Nadine L

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2007, 11:32:43 AM »
Patx,

There are indie writers who have set up shop to take on other people's books and walk them through. It isn't something I would want to do. As you pointed out, marketing can get time consuming, especially if trying to mirror the traditional publisher's efforts.

I would caution about paying for these things from a small indie press, not to be confused with Independent Presses, since I haven't seen one that I think is worth the price (for me).

I'd say, whether traditionally published or indie writers, a writer must take the time to learn how the industry works to make the best decisions.

Personally, I'm not an anti-traditional NY publisher person. I think that each book deserves its best chance. If it is going to be filler at the bottom of a big house's list, indie may be a better long term choice. I say that only because of the short shelf life of a book that is on the low positions of a big house list.  In that case, allowing a longer shelf life for a slow growth book might be better.  But, a person has to understand how this stuff works to make the best decisions for their mss.

Certainly, one would submit their best book; the one with the strongest likelihood of a good sell through number as their debut book into the traditional market ~ assuming they have more than one ms to work with.  Most of the time, what a writer gets as their advance is all they will get from that book.

The main point I have to make is not to jump into anything blindly. Do the reading and research about how the industry works. It is important to know this information to make the best career choices for oneself and one's mss. I am not encouraging anyone to go indie or not go indie, only to know what lies ahead and how to best get where you want to go.

The grand thing about WMC is that we help each other. Even if someone's dream for their ms is different from mine, I will help them reach that goal in any way I can. I think that is true of most of the members here. It is certainly not true of a lot of writing forums who have no use for indie writers. My, the information they are missing from the research we do. Oh, well...

Nadine

Nadine L

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2007, 11:41:01 AM »
This seems to fit what we were talking about.

http://www.writersreaders.com/blog.php?thebid=149

Nadine

Patx

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2007, 12:34:43 PM »
I do think there are a lot of differences between the US and the UK on this subject, most significantly probably, the sixe of the marketplace. There aren't as many publishers, or even bookshops in the UK and I suspect the market is more closed than the US.

On BBC Radio 4 today, on a current affairs magazine programme called You and Yours, they had an intersting segment on an established/published biographer called Garry O'Connor who's decided to self-publish his second novel. There's an interesting discussion between him, the presenter, a self-publishing 'consultant' and the publishing director at Macmillan -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/youandyours/listenagain/friday.shtml

Unfortunately, the segment is approx. 27 mins into the programme (And lasts 15mins) - you should be able to FF  on the mediaplayer or else listen to the whole thing.

It is interesting. The first 5 mins is a bit blah blah but then the discussion picks up. defintely worth a listen.

I also recalled Timothy Mo, does anyone remember him? A published author who decided to self-publish because of 'artistic differences' with his publisher - where is he now?


Offline paramour

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2007, 02:12:13 PM »
I am learning so much from this thread. The publishing industry ie. the big publishing houses sound to be too much of a risk, imho. I am more and more thinking about self publishing when I am ready. I like the idea of doing the work and controlling my work. But, I have this question: where the big publishers come into play, isn't it your agent that helps you to get the best deal? Isn't that what an agent does?  I haven't heard anyone talking about the agent and his role in the process. Isn't it pretty much mandatory that you find an agent first? I'm sure he has to get paid, too, and takes a cut, but isn't it worth having this guy around? Help - I am confused...
~paramour.

crystalwizard

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2007, 02:26:52 PM »
Isn't that what an agent does?  I haven't heard anyone talking about the agent and his role in the process. Isn't it pretty much mandatory that you find an agent first? I'm sure he has to get paid, too, and takes a cut, but isn't it worth having this guy around?

for some of the big houses, an agent is the only way you'll even get in the door. There are some that do not talk directly to unknown authors at all.

Agents are also a risk and not all of them are honest, nor have your best interest at heart. Before you sign with one, do your homework carefully.

Offline paramour

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2007, 02:59:03 PM »
There are some that do not talk directly to unknown authors at all.

Do you mean there are some agents that that's don't talk directly to unknown authors?

Gee...that's harsh. :(
~paramour.

Offline markb

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2007, 05:41:02 PM »
Agents normally take 15-20% of the advance and of any royalties.
They will send copies of your manuscript out to the publishers who deal in that genre.
Most publishers will not look at unsolicitated manuscripts, so the only route to these publishers is via an agent. However, it is still worth submitting your manuscript direct to the publishers if you have failed to get an agent. Do not send it out to agents AND publishers at the same time since an agent will not want the embarrasment of promoting a manuscript to a publisher who has already seen and rejected it.
Most agents only take on a handful of new authors each year out of thousands of submissions.
Some agents will state on their websites if their client lists are full and they are currently not accepting new manuscripts.
Some agents will suggest changes to a manuscript prior to submitting it to publishers.
Just because you have an agent it does not guarantee that your manuscript will be published.
If an agent signs you up, you should join the Society of Authors who will give you advice on your contracts with your agent and your publisher, and other legal matters.



Mark.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 05:43:02 PM by markb »

crystalwizard

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2007, 06:13:23 PM »
Do you mean there are some agents that that's don't talk directly to unknown authors?

Gee...that's harsh. :(

No I said there are some publishers that don't talk directly to unknown authors. They talk only to agents.

Nadine L

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Re: Is it normal to pay a large fee to get published?
« Reply #29 on: March 09, 2007, 08:44:12 PM »
The whole point is that there is much more to the workings of this industry than is commonly thought at first. (I certainly was clueless in the beginning.) Obviously, some people do make money publishing with big houses or they would have closed their doors years ago because writers wouldn't provide them with the commodity they sell. While making money might happen by luck once in a while, it happens more often to writers who spend a lot of effort learning how the system works, then makeing it work for them. It is possible to do this.

The same is true with being an indie writer. There is much more to it than banging out a ms and uploading it to Lulu.com. Lulu.com isn't the problem, the problem is (again) jumping into this whole wonderful world oblivious to how it works. Probably the worst thing about the indie side of publishing is that there are so many scams out there, and even some perfectly fine services that are hugely over priced. The trick is to get the emotion of wanting to be published in check, then think clearly about how things work and how much they should cost.

Another problem most indie writers face is the general perception that they (we) couldn't "make it" with a NY publisher (or get an agent) so they are "settling" by being indie. Other people see it as the easy way out of dealing with the agent search process. I've done both and don't think either is taking the easy way out. Writing is the only easy part of this whole game, if you ask me.

All the talent in the world isn't quite enough if a person shoots themselves in the foot by not learning how the industry works. And, that means to some extent that a writer has to think like a business person.

I am 100% convinced that it is a terrible idea to go indie if you are the least worried about being called a looser (over and over again) or if you mind being shut out of major bookstore, major reviews, major anything. It isn't a level playing field. Be creative. Don't kid yourself. You'll be a marketing and PR expert by the time you make money if you go indie. But, it is rewarding in many ways too.

One of the things that makes it hard for all indie writers is the indie people who whine about the trade/commercial sector of the industry. Those people do more damage to the image of indie writers and indie books than an ugly cover or a few editing screw-ups. IMO.

So, if I were asked for advice, I would say to take time to learn about the industry after you get your first draft done. Then rewrite one more time than you actually think you should. And, while in the rewrite process, learn about the industry so that you are ready when your ms is ready.

The good thing about places like MWC is that writers are not alone, as we once were.

Nadine

(sorry, I don't know why I can't keep it short)
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 08:49:20 PM by Nadine L »