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Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers

Independent presses have a lot to offer today's aspiring authors. The slush pile is smaller and the chance for an unknown, untried author to get a contract is greater. Unlike large publishing houses, there's still very personal interaction between editors and writers. Unlike self-pubbed books, the publishing house takes care of cover art, lay-out, printing and distribution. Authors are nurtured and a bond builds between the author and publisher.

What most authors fail to realize is that they are expected to don the hat of promoter once the ink has dried on the paper. The job's not finished when THE END is typed on the last page of the novel. In fact, the hard work has just begun.

Anyone aspiring to a career in publishing cannot be blind to all the posts and forums talking about book marketing. It's the #1 topic discussed today. Yet, when the long-awaited novel is finally on the shelf, there it sits. Why? Because authors are unprepared or unwilling to dirty their hands in selling the book to the public. Isn't that someone else's responsibility?

Depending upon the contract, the average amount a publishing house gets is less than $2 profit per book sold. It takes the sale of approximately 200 books before a small outfit sees any profit on a title. That covers production cost, plus Amazon gets their cut and the author gets royalties. Industry stats say the average book will sell about 500 copies. Nobody is out to get rich, but in order to keep producing more books, money has to come from somewhere.

Independent houses exist only when authors and publishers work side by side to do book promotion. I would be more inclined to recommend to my publisher a well-written book backed by an enthusiastic marketer over a great novel written by a prima donna who has no interest or intention to sell.  

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Replies to This Discussion

I think there was only a very small sliver of time when authors didn't have to promote much. Those old-time authors we think of as great did readings and meet and greets constantly. Twain and Dickens for example were known as much for their speaking tours as their novels. We're just going back to a more traditional approach.

So what are independent presses? Does the author pay out of pocket to have the book published? Is there a need for an agent? Do they request a synopsis, a query letter, and what are the guidelines? 

The guidelines for each press are at the site.

The authors do not pay for anything. I actually dislike agents, they try to argue with standard contracts. 

I do request a synopsis and query letter. 

I know the query and synopsis is very important. However, I have yet to write them in a manner that shows off my work. They seem to come up short. I have just finished or perhaps not quite all the way done, a query I am satisfied with. How important are they? 

Sunny Frazier said:

The guidelines for each press are at the site.

The authors do not pay for anything. I actually dislike agents, they try to argue with standard contracts. 

I do request a synopsis and query letter. 

For me--not so much. I basically want to know the word count, genre and writing credits. The synopsis should be about one page, brief, just to give me an idea of the plot. Then I'll request 30 pages and look at the writing.  

Robert L. Allen said:

I know the query and synopsis is very important. However, I have yet to write them in a manner that shows off my work. They seem to come up short. I have just finished or perhaps not quite all the way done, a query I am satisfied with. How important are they? 

Sunny Frazier said:

The guidelines for each press are at the site.

The authors do not pay for anything. I actually dislike agents, they try to argue with standard contracts. 

I do request a synopsis and query letter. 

I am new to this website. I am guilty of having manuscripts sitting on my shelves for years because I was unable to find a literary agent to represent me. I was told a Publisher would not read my work without an agent. I recently retired and just completed my fifth women's novel, which now needs editing. But now I have time to pursue getting my books published. I'm all ears to learn what I can do to accomplish this feat.

Rita Doyle Walsh

Well, all the writing books talk about the query and synopsis as the end-all to impressing an editor. For me, I just want to know the word count, genre, a bit of bio and any writing credits. A synopsis should be about a page, I don't care how well it's written except for glaring punctuation and spelling errors. I just want to know the basic storyline. The 30 pages I request as a sample will tell me the writing quality.

Yes, it's that simple. Why make a big deal out of it?  



Sunny Frazier said:

For me--not so much. I basically want to know the word count, genre and writing credits. The synopsis should be about one page, brief, just to give me an idea of the plot. Then I'll request 30 pages and look at the writing.  

Robert L. Allen said:

I know the query and synopsis is very important. However, I have yet to write them in a manner that shows off my work. They seem to come up short. I have just finished or perhaps not quite all the way done, a query I am satisfied with. How important are they? 

Sunny Frazier said:

The guidelines for each press are at the site.

The authors do not pay for anything. I actually dislike agents, they try to argue with standard contracts. 

I do request a synopsis and query letter. 

Rita, there has never been a better time to be a fledgling author!

The myth of the agent is fading fast. I personally believe agents are dinosaurs and impede a writer's move to go forward. They need to make the most profitable deal for themselves, so you are just small potatoes.

Your options are to find an indie, or small press, with less red tape than a large house. There are many out there. They produce what are called trade paperbacks--a cheaper process of production by using POD, or pring on demand technology. Don't go with any publisher who asks you do put money in the pot. A legit publisher covers all the cost.

Find an outfit that treats you like a human being, is there for you and answers all your questions. A majority of  small houses are now run by women and may only have a staff of three or four.  Since everything is done by e-mail, workers can be anywhere in the world. New York is no longer the center of the publishing world.

Another option to you is to publish electronically. So many readers are using Kindles, Nooks and Ipads that we are all seeing the profits from those sources over physical books. You can also do this yourself, or you can have Kindle produce it for you. There are also publishing houses that produce e-books only or e-books and trade. 

What you need to know as a newcomer is marketing. It starts the minute you decide to write a book, so you are already behind. What you start with is your name. Get it out there by blogging, responding to blogs, monitoring sites and getting active on the Internet. Your fan base will come from this source.

If you need a little push in the right direction, go to my website and click on Posse Posts. These are sites I have found to be informative on a variety of subjects to do with marketing. The Posse is a private marketing group I conduct for free. If you are interested in joying, just send me your email address at my site: http://www.sunnyfrazier.com       

 

 

Rita Doyle Walsh said:

I am new to this website. I am guilty of having manuscripts sitting on my shelves for years because I was unable to find a literary agent to represent me. I was told a Publisher would not read my work without an agent. I recently retired and just completed my fifth women's novel, which now needs editing. But now I have time to pursue getting my books published. I'm all ears to learn what I can do to accomplish this feat.

Rita Doyle Walsh

Hi Sunny, 

Thank you! Another question; other than a handful of poems published, I have no writing credits. Do agents and or publishers tend to pass over people without them? I write fictional mystery. The MS I have send out, I believe the publishers and agents haven't read my work, not the synopsis, or even the one-page queries. I can tell by the form letters or e-mails sent back. When I was publishing poetry, it was clear who was reading them and who was not. What do you think?  

Sunny Frazier said:

For me--not so much. I basically want to know the word count, genre and writing credits. The synopsis should be about one page, brief, just to give me an idea of the plot. Then I'll request 30 pages and look at the writing.  

Robert L. Allen said:

I know the query and synopsis is very important. However, I have yet to write them in a manner that shows off my work. They seem to come up short. I have just finished or perhaps not quite all the way done, a query I am satisfied with. How important are they? 

Sunny Frazier said:

The guidelines for each press are at the site.

The authors do not pay for anything. I actually dislike agents, they try to argue with standard contracts. 

I do request a synopsis and query letter. 

I think that publishers and agents, even acquisition editors like myself, are swamped with queries. My publishing house puts out 30 titles a year, very high for a small press.

Does it matter if you have writing credits? Do we look at such things? Absolutely. It tells us that this person hasn't just woken up and decided to have a career in writing, that they have been working at it for a long time. If I have to decide on an author who has a page of writing credits or you, who has none, which author do you think I will select for my publisher to put money behind and invest in their career?

What authors don't seem to factor in is that this is a business and for us, an investment. There is real cash involved. They only see things from their end. Yes, you did the work, yes, you expect somebody to sell the book and you reap the royalties. Reality is, writing the book is only the first step and probably the easiest one.  You have to learn marketing PRIOR to getting the book published. You have to have a platform in place to present to your potential publisher. You will be faced with a marketing form to fill out.

Best suggestions: get to a conference, meet publishers after doing your homework and knowing a lot about them, their publishing house and its mission statement. Do pitch sessions. Or, go the route many savvy authors are going and self-publish your work as an e-book via Amazon. You will get a higher profit on sales. You still have to be an aggressive marketer, but it will build your credits and get you started on a real career.   

      

Sunny I think you have an open-handed approach to the publishing industry. That's good. 

Perhaps it is a minefield out there but we are both standing. Everything you say exists for anybody to research. I've taken a look at the Oak Tree Press website. For me it is a shame as my novel is not long enough but no matter as the genre is not what you specialise in, no matter as my W.I.P. is my first MG novel. Do you publish  a collection of short stories?

I stopped by to say hello. I hope others will take the opportunity to discover what works and what does not. I loved what you said about credits and , the synopsis and the query letter. Is the proposal still in existence or has that changed? Nobody seems to mention it these days.

Best wishes

Cleveland

Cleveland, I'm really glad you read the article and took the time to respond.

No, Oak Tree does not publish short story collections. These books are very hard to market. The best place for collections are self-published on the electronic format. Readers tend to like shorter stories when reading on Kindles or Ipads. 

Proposals are more for non-fiction work. The idea is to pitch a proposal of an idea rather than writing it. If the publisher is interested, then the writer can construct the contents to suit the publisher's needs and/or mission statement.

While Oak Tree Press does not normally publish non-fiction, we are beginning to produce "booklets" on specific interests of writers instead of readers. In this case, a proposal is necessary. I plan to write one on how to write prize-winning short stories and how to market on a budget. Most of these booklets will be produced by in-house authors and sold via the Internet or at conferences. 

 

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