In the face of a crumbling business model, the publishing industry has developed a different approach for finding writing talent. While the digital and independent publishing entrepreneurs lead the way into a bold new future, big time publishers huddle in fear at the demise of their way of life, hands clenched tightly to pocketbooks, afraid to hand out five or six figure advances to all but the surest bets and literally removing from the budget resources to market new writers.
If you’re one of the growing number of writers who have chosen to take on the new publishing model on your own, and managed to sell a good number of self-published books in the process, expect to hear the tiny patter of agents and old-style publishing houses beating feet to your door. They are absolutely prepared to offer you a traditional publishing contract now – now that you’ve proven all by yourself that you have a marketable product.
At this point, should you consider their offer or should you kindly suggest they reverse course, you’re doing quite well enough on your own. There are many points to consider if you find yourself approached by the Publishing Industry but here are a few keys to watch out for before tossing away your blossoming indie career in favor of a Big Brother traditional publishing contract.
1. Find out what the agent’s cut is: Industry standard is 15%. If the rate he quotes varies remarkably above that, ask questions. What’s he going to do for you to justify a higher rate?
2. Be prepared to give up control. Not only will the publisher want to change the cover, copy, title and content, they will also control the rights to the book forever. That’s a long time.
3. Your profit percentage is normally only 8% to 20% of the book’s cover price. The publisher gets the rest, and your agent’s fee comes out of your share.
The only big advantage a traditional publishing contract can offer is the POSSIBILITY of more exposure. No matter what they say while wining and dining you, the prospect of massive publicity is only a slight one reserved for the very largest of the large writers. Think Tom Clancy, JK Rowling or Stephen King. If you happen to be one of The Ones, your publisher will certainly kick the media machine into high gear for you but the reality of that happening is probably about the same as winning a multi-million dollar state lottery.
We’re not suggesting the traditional publishing industry is dead but only that you tread very carefully before signing on the dotted line. In the new landscape, creating your own buzz is now a distinct possibility.
The Speaking of Wealth Team
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