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 Critique this chart on publishing options?

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lin
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PostSubject: Critique this chart on publishing options?   Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:13 am

http://linrobinson.com/pubchart.htm
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Jeffrey J. Mariotte
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PostSubject: Re: Critique this chart on publishing options?   Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:44 pm

There are a couple of errors in the top row, Traditional Publishers. The author doesn't give up rights, except as negotiated with the publisher. The publisher takes care of filing the copyright, but in the author's name. Other rights--foreign, film, etc., are subject to negotiation. If an author doesn't want to deal with them and wants the publisher to take care of exploiting them (with a share of any proceeds to the author, of course), then you can let the publisher hang onto them.

Also, "editorial control" is a bit misleading. Your editor will make suggestions. A copyeditor will make suggestions. If you as the author don't like those suggestions, that's what the word "Stet" is for. Sometimes you might argue, because they do have house styles, and because they have done this a lot and know what's considered proper--but it's the author's book and ultimately they'll let the author make the final decision.

I've looked at a lot of self-published books in almost 30 years as a bookseller, and the one thing most of them have in common is that they would benefit from a skilled editorial hand.

You do give up control over some things--publication schedule, cover, publicity, the things an author shouldn't be bothering him- or herself about anyway, but will usually consult the author on those things, and again if you have a strong opinion about something you can make it known (although "You should buy TV advertising in prime time for my book" doesn't actually work).

You're also missing one row, because there are small presses that don't use POD technology. In sf/fantasy/horror, for instance, an example would be Night Shade. They pay advances and print beautiful books, but their print runs as a rule are going to be smaller than the traditional publishers. The same caveat about editorial control applies here--you don't give it up, but you do have the advantage of an editor helping make the book the best it can be.

In general, Traditional Publishers should be the default that authors try first, because it's where the money is and where the readers are. Aim high, and if that doesn't work try the next level, etc. There's an old maxim among professional writers--"Money flows to the writer." In other words, if someone's trying to get you to pay for something--a reading fee, printing costs, etc.--then that publisher probably makes most of its money off writers, not off selling books.

Sometimes there are very specific reasons to self-publish (books aimed at a tiny niche market, for instance, or family histories just meant for family and friends). But for writers hoping to be read by lots of people, and for writers genuinely trying to be professional (which, by definition, means getting paid) that top row is the place to be whenever possible.

Jeff
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blackrosewriting
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PostSubject: Re: Critique this chart on publishing options?   Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:40 am

Agrees with most of Jeff's remark...

PublishAmerica doesn't require any money from the author... by no means am I defending their scam or bad business, but that isn't true! We have no ties with that unhelpful company.
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lin
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PostSubject: Re: Critique this chart on publishing options?   Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:05 am

Jeff
A publishing company buys rights. When you sell something you give them up. Just what rights, for how long, for what area, etc. depend on the deal.
But in fact when you publish with Doubleday you cede intellectual rights to them.
Smaller POD publishers tend to more or less "lease" those rights. Publishing your own book on lightningsource means you retain your rights and can sell them to another publisher if you wish.

If your experience has been that editors just make "suggestions" instead of taking control and changing things you've been most fortunate. But there is a chorus of writers whose experience has been exactly the opposite.

Small presses that use ink printing would be included in the first category. The distinction is not size, but technology. But it's hard to think of Bewrite as a small press, isn't it. I'll have to fiddle with that.

And, importantly, you don't have to "get paid" to be a professional. Pros in many fields aren't just employees, but also owners and entrepreneurs.

Thanks, Reagan..I just assumed :-) It's interesting that the company most often typified as "scam publisher" doesn't charge up front. Whatever their faults, you have to hand it to them for figuring out how to make money off the publishing racket without doing that.

Thanks to both of your for the input.
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Jeffrey J. Mariotte
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PostSubject: Re: Critique this chart on publishing options?   Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:50 am

Lin,

I guess I don't think of it as "giving up" rights when they're giving you money to do what you want them to do, which is to publish your book. The copyright remains in the author's name, and the publishing rights (under most circumstances) revert to the author if the publisher lets it go out of print. So yes, I suppose that could be considered giving up rights--but that way of phrasing it makes it sound like a negative, when, again, the purpose of writing a book is to generally to get it published, and that's what they're doing for you.

And yes, I've published more than 35 novels, and in my experience the editors understand that the book belongs to the author, and it's the author's name on it, not the editor's, so the final decision rests with the author. If an editor and author absolutely cannot agree on some important point, the publisher can void the contract, which is a legitimate decision if they feel the book is unpublishable as is and the author refuses to change it.

I disagree on the definition of professional, but it may be a semantic difference. I don't mean that a professional has to be paid by an employer--entrepreneurs and owners count too--just that they have to be working at a trade or craft which provides them a livelihood (however minuscule). I don't think published authors are necessarily professional writers if they are paying to be published instead of making money by being published--the fact that someone, be it readers, publishers, other parties paying for rights (film, game, toy, foreign, etc.) considers the work worth paying for is what makes its author a professional. It's the earning of money for one's work that is the dividing line between amateur and professional, according to most definitions I'm familiar with.

Re: Publish America--do they make their money through selling books to their authors, which their authors can then re-sell? I know they don't make it from selling books through bookstores, so if they don't charge the authors for printing or editorial services, they have to make it somewhere.
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lin
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PostSubject: Re: Critique this chart on publishing options?   Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:49 pm

Apparently that's how PA makes the nut. I obviously know little about them.

Regarding professionalism: if you publish your own work, you pay SOMEBODY to print it. Unless you own a press.
Just as a toymaker pays somebody to manufacture the toys, etc. If you're making a living doing something, then you're a pro.
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