As with everything in this world, there also is an established protocol in the publishing world, which you are expected to follow.
You write your masterpiece, submit it to agents and publishers, collect rejection slips, and eventually get accepted, only to be told that your book will have to be totally re-written, as you’re an idiot.
To get your book out there, you’ll need an agent who is willing to represent you. Once you find one, you can wave 10%-15% of any proceeds of the book, and, if you’re lucky enough to get an advance, wave bye-bye to the agent’s cut before you even get a penny.
Then, after months of waiting, your book does eventually hit the shelves, you find it selling for £7.99 and wonder why you’re only getting 28p for every sale, which is only paid then the publishing house decides to actually sit down and write something for you. A cheque.
Of course ‘Harry the honest agent’ has to get his cut out of that as well, so unless you’re going to sell hundreds of thousands of copies, don’t pack in your day job just yet.
Whoopee. Great news. Hollywood wants to buy your script, they love it. The publishing house and Harry gets another cut, which could – depending on the contract that you didn’t read – be as much as 50%. Whereas, if you had self published, all you need is someone to negotiate you contract for you on a fixed fee basis.
So now is the time to cut those ties, or even better, don’t get tied in the first place.
Mr John Locke – who, or should I say whom?, I’m sure you’ve heard of – decided to short circuit the whole process by choosing eBooks instead of traditional publishing. He has a new book out called ‘How I sold 1 million eBooks in 5 months’ and in it he explains his rationale. (It’s actually 1.1m copies now) The only thing that confuses me about his book is that in it, he strongly recommends selling books for 77p/99c, but it costs £1.86/$2.89??? Go figure.
I’m summarising here, but basically he says that the big well known authors are forced to sell their books for say $9.99, due to the pressure put on them by publishing houses.
So the first obvious thing is the fact that a book at 99c is much more appealing to potential readers.
The most interesting point that Mr Locke makes, is the fact that he doesn’t have to prove to readers that his books are as good as the big name books, but that ‘they’ have to prove to their readers that their books are ten times better than his. Fair point I’d say.
The amazing thing is that Amazon only take 60 days to pay their accounts and you will still be earning around the same figure as if the book was published traditionally at the normal price.
People usually ask, “But with a traditional book deal, don’t they market the book for me?”
No. Sure they’ll get a couple of columns in some of the trade press and let book shops know about it, but the Twitter, FaceBook thing is all down to you. There are exceptions of course, assuming your book is the next Fifty Shades.
Book signings? Ok, I’ll give you that one, but unless your book is selling amazingly well, no-one’s really interested in you sitting in the corner of the book shop with a pile of unsold copies in front of you.
Radio/newspaper interviews? You can easily do this yourself with press releases and if your book does start selling well, they will contact you for an interview.
So apart from low and late payments, and agent’s fees, and having virtually no control over your cover, and having to re-write to please some kid who’s just got a degree and can only text lol, yolo and brb, what else has traditional publishing got going for it? Not a lot.
Recent figures now suggest that over 50% of all books sold in America are now eBooks. Doesn’t that alone tell you the direction that you should be going?
Let’s say that your book is an amazing best seller and traditionalists – who still prefer the feel of a good book in their hands – want a copy. Surely now you have to get an agent? Again, no. With so many companies offering to print books for you, just get them printed yourself. Let’s say they cost you £2.50 each. You can then take them to one of the major book distributors who will put them into all the book shops (local or national) and you’ll make a lot more money. Alternatively, as you’re self published and social media savvy, point your customers in the direction of your web site and sell direct; again cutting out the middle man.
Okay, so what if your book is selling in the millions on Amazon and you don’t fancy self-publishing a paper/hard back. No biggie. If you’re selling millions, you’re making a fortune anyway and one of the big six publishing houses will knock on your door and throw vast sums of cash at you as an advance. Don’t blush – take it and smile. You’re now officially one of the big ones selling at £9.99, but you’re so rich, you don’t care.
Thanks for dropping by.
Copyright Lawrence Wray
You can also check out some of the links above, especially the
two short stories. ‘A Five Star Experience of a Lifetime’ and
A new one, ‘Bill and Ben’ will be up before the end of the week.