Marchbooks' Blog

September 1, 2009

Revolutionizing the Publishing Model

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 3:37 pm
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Viva la Revolucion. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I believe the publishing industry has some catching up to do. It seems as though they have been napping for the past hundred years or so. The current publishing model. The result is a very wasteful industry that offers less and less for their non A-list authors. Change has to come, even if it comes kicking and screaming. Has it arrived? Are publishers finally starting to see the light. This wonderful article by Bob Miller gives me hope that the revolution is upon us.

What a wonderful concept: a fifty-fifty split. The author brings his creative work to the table and the publisher brings his bank book, they then split the profits. Now, each party is completely vested in the publication, marketing and promotion of this book. I can hear the nay sayers screaming and beating their breasts from here. ‘It’s not fair. Publishing is expensive. We’d be losing money hand over fist. It’s just not fair!’

What is not fair is asking an author to hand over the rights to the product of their labor for a meager 5-10% royalty.  Even without layering promotion/marketing money and time by the author, this does not seem equitable. The author is at the bottom of the totem pole as the bookseller takes their 35% and the publisher distributor takes the lion’s share after printing costs, leaving precious little for the author. That author has become a second class citizen in the sale of his own book, despite the fact that he is essentially creating jobs for everyone in the food chain. So why are there only scraps left for him?

This model presented by Harper Studio is overdo but very welcome. Congratulations on your creativity, responsiveness and bravery in beginning changes in an industry that is entrenched in the past – kudos to you. I hope that more publishers will follow your lead.


August 28, 2009

The Old Publishing Model – Is It Fair To Authors? by Janus Kane

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 4:58 pm
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I just read a wonderful article on the need to change the royalty structure for authors as it exists in today’s publishing industry. I won’t bother to regurgitate it. You can read it yourself. Publishers Must Change The Way Authors Get Paid

When you weigh the benefits of publication (for the majority of published authors out there) against the cost; in blood, sweat, tears and yes, money, one has to wonder why the allure is so strong. As a new author on the scene, I can tell you that it is not an easy road. The search for a publisher is a grueling one. First you tool and polish your manuscript to its finest. You craft a compelling query letter. You grab the latest version of The Writers Market and carefully select a number of compatible publishers.

Your first mailing goes out. WHAT? No positive responses. Undaunted, you retool your query letter and send it out to another batch of likely suspects. INCREDIBLE! Still no one has seen the promise of your book project. So you blow the dust off of your wallet (after all you have been busy writing for the past two years, not chasing the almighty dollar) and pony up a sizeable chunk of cash to attend a conference or two, where you are sure that you will be able to make the connections you need to get your books onto the bookshelves. Sadly, one brief weekend connection does not get you into the inner circle.

Although you have found some editors who like your project, (we’re getting closer) those editors were not able to convince their board of decision-makers about the marketability of your book. EGADS! How could this be happening? So, you write and you continue to pursue publication until one day, the miracle letter comes. You have been chosen out of the masses. It is a Herculean feat, but you’ve done it and it is all down hill from now on.

HA! In reality, you now have to watch your baby as it is wrenched out of your hands, mauled and manhandled until it is barely recognizable. For what? In many cases an unknown author will receive a token advance it they receive one at all. Okay, so you can’t pay of your mortgage just yet, but at least you can get back to what you were meant to do – writing, as you sit back and wait for your 5% royalty to roll in. 

Of course, you could do that – if you don’t mind seeing your firstborn die a slow and ugly death in the book return bin. So, you try to get some love from your publisher. Sorry, no go. They’ve got a long list and a small budget. There is no money to market your book. If you want it done, you will have to do it yourself.

You square your shoulders and dive in. Six months later, you are buried under a mountain of bills; website, web design services, review copies, mailing expenses, a shelf of how-to books on how to market your book, travelling expenses, advertising materials, more mailing expenses and perhaps your own publicist…The list goes on. It all comes out of your pocket – out of that generous 5% royalty that you so eagerly agreed to when desperation was biting at your heels. But, what is infinity worse is that these marketing efforts have completely sucked the life out of you, preventing you from being able to write another creative word.

Does it sound grim? It should. Unfortunately, it is reality for all too many hopeful authors. The road to publication is not short or easy. It is fraught with perils. Significant time and money could reap very little benefit. But, there are options; POD, ebook publication, blogging, online writing communities…There are many new ways to have your voice heard these days.

Authors should consider all of the options carefully, then they should consider them again. Be very clear about what you want out of publication. Do you want fame, fortune, notoriety? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field or will you be happy just to have your book printed and distributed to family and friends? Or do you just want to tell your stories in a way that others can share and enjoy them?

If you decide that you will be satisfied with nothing less than the brass ring, by all means, go for it. But, go for it with your eyes open and love what you are doing because if you love what you are doing, you will never have to work a day in your life.

Write on.

The Little Insanity

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