1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    publisher interested in my work - what to do?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Mckk, Oct 23, 2012.

    I need to know if this is a red flag or not - so, first, some background:

    It's a small publisher - the staff came from an existing larger publishing house (whose name I do not know) and they're splitting off and establishing their own small publishing house. This means, as yet, they have no track record of publishing anything. Assuming they're telling the truth (and through many emails, I have no reason to believe otherwise), the staff are experienced people but without the large budget needed for promotion. I will not post the name of the publisher because well, it's not exactly allowed on the forum :)

    So the marketing guy from the small house sent me the link to their marketing page. It says, they will spend £10,000 in promotion. Then hopefully you'll garner readers. The profit coming from that will go into further promotion that would roughly be another £10,000. The idea is, the publisher puts in £10k and you put in £10k too from your initial "profit".

    1. Is that normal from a small house? Or is it a red flag?

    2. £10k in initial promotions - I might be wrong but I don't think that's a lot at all. How likely would I actually gain readers through such little investment, and how likely is it that not only will I gain readers but gain so many as to make myself worthy of further promotion? (and then yet to get more readers in order to surpass the £10k I'm demanded to put in myself and actually get a real profit?) My instincts say, not very likely.

    I'm not so worried about the profit part - I'm just worried I won't make it pass the initial £10k promotion they put in, which means my book would've sunk and I would've lost my rights to the book.

    This is the first publisher I've queried, so it's early days, but I just wanna know if I should even be considering this?

    The up side to all this is - IF I ever make a profit, I get 50% - which is rather a lot.
     
  2. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    Yes, this is a red flag.

    I have seen it before and I don't like it.

    Marketing is part of the cost of publishing a book. It is right up there with cover design, editing and printing. Publishers that try to recoup this amount before you make a penny are really just doing a form of subsidy publishing.

    That they are so small and new and have no track record should be even scarier. So they will spend money promoting your book and pay you after they recoup those costs. What about the likely scenario that the book never works off its own birth weight?

    So they will hopefully break even and you will be sitting there with a book you effectively published for free.

    Small press publishers who don't engage in this silliness simply factor marketing in to their costs. So, your royalty is the net profit after the publisher takes their bite to recoup costs and turn a profit. The key difference is that you get paid for every book sold.

    It is a non-standard contract. They may sell a lot of books, or they may flop next week. It is difficult to say. My opinion is to stay away, but ultimately you have to evaluate what you want to do with your work and make the decision that works for you.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    MAJOR red flag!

    run, do not walk, to the nearest exit... FLEE!!!
     
  4. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I just noticed this.

    There are other small press publishers who offer similarly competitive royalties without this arrangement.

    You aren't getting the big royalty BECAUSE they are recouping their expenses in this no traditional manner. They are giving you a very common ePub royalty rate and screwing you out of royalties.

    I will disagree with Maia. I don't think you need to run away. But, were it me, I would politely decline.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't even consider it. Some things that make me wary:

    As a company, they have no track record in publishing. Do they have any distribution network set up? Is even one bookstore committed to stocking their books?

    They claim to have experience. OK, great. What books have they edited/marketed/whatever in their former jobs, and how successful were they? What authors and colleagues and agents, people who do have established recent publishing credits, can they offer as references? What, precisely, is the marketing plan that they plan to spend that ten thousand on?

    Who gets paid that ten thousand and the second ten thousand? Do you have any assurance that they're going to pay for outside services, and useful services, as opposed to paying themselves to write generic press releases and paying their kids to stuff envelopes? Can you even know that they will put in any money as opposed to just valuing a certain amount of their own labor as being worth ten thousand? Do you have any way of assuring that labor will really be "promotion" rather than the editing and other work that they should, at their own expense, put into getting the book ready to publish?

    Since you'll be essentially an investor, do you get any approval rights over what they spend your ten thousand on? Do you get any view of what they spend the first ten thousand on?

    What is your "fifty percent" calculated from? Is it sale price or something with a more nebulous definition, like "profit"? "Profit" can mean whatever they want it to mean, after they pay all of the expenses that they choose to incur or to charge to themselves.

    How clear is it that your 10K only comes from your royalties? Or is it going to come out of your pocket and "of course you'll make enough profit to cover that..." I know they've said that it comes from profits, but have you seen the contract yet?

    If your fifty percent comes from "profit" - that is, revenue after expenses - will the 10k that you paid be treated as corporate funds and therefore subtracted as expenses, so that you end up paying it twice?

    Will those ten thousands pay your expenses for promotion, or will you be paying for your own plane tickets and rental cars to do book signings? Will you, on the other hand, be paying for somebody else's plane ticket and rental car to, say, go to a conference that they would have gone to anyway?

    It seems to me that this could very easily be a way for you to pay ten thousand for the privilege of giving up the rights to your book.
     
  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    If you just want to get published, go for it. If you want to make any money, stay far, far away.
     
  7. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It's like Kenny said - know when to walk away and know when to run. If they want ten grand from you can almost certainly guarantee it's a rip off of some sort.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the chances of you ever recouping that ten grand on your book are nil to none... so, if you enjoy throwing away your hard-earned money, go ahead...
     
  9. Warrior of Light
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    Warrior of Light Member

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    Taking the money to the casino is more productive.
     
  10. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    The OP has stated that the publisher would be spending the money and simply not paying royalties until the 10k is recouped (very unlikely, in my opinion). That is quite different from throwing away one's hard earned money. If anything, it would be throwing away one's hard earned writing.

    The Op did not, in any manner, imply that the publisher is asking for an outlay of cash. The publisher is going to take a risk and, in all likelihood, will not recoup that money through sales.

    But, there are authors who sign contracts of this sort. There are some who even like the publishers and are satisfied with their sales.

    So, I'm gong to throw out a radical concept here. We have all said our piece. The OP will make a decision. And we, as a community, can respect an individual's decision even if we disagree with it. We have provided various perspectives and things to consider, but it isn't our book and it isn't our life.

    And maybe if we ever make a choice our fellow writers disagree with, they too will respect us in the end as well.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    James, the OP did _ask_ for advice - who here is disagreeing with them? It seems that you're scolding people for offering advice in response to a request for, well, advice.
     
  12. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    The two comments discussing "throwing money away" are not offering advice. In fact, they seem to be discussing spending money when the OP clearly indicated that no money was being asked for by the publisher.

    What was being offered instead was a rather sharp judgment without the benefit of advice.
     
  13. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    It seems plausible to me that this publisher is forking out that kind of money, particularly if your book is their first. All of their costs are on your book at the moment! Whereas if they had ten or a hundred titles out there already, they would be able to spread the cost of certain costs over the lot of them.
    The way I see it is they may be clueless and are tossing their own money away, which IMO would be unlikely if they are experienced, which it sounds as though they are, or they have thought this through, understand the costs of a start-up and are prepared.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...wrong... see the original post:

    ...that is clearly 'money...being asked for by the publisher'!... it's still money out of the author's pocket, whether taken up front, or later... it's not the same as giving the author a cash advance against future profits, it's making the author pay for the cost of publishing the book, which = 'vanity press' in one of its worst forms... and what was offered was definitely 'advice' and not 'sharp judgement'...

    ...btw, it's not very friendly to malign one's fellow members for being helpful...
     
  15. steve119
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    steve119 Senior Member

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    The question is are you comfortable with this deal and do you feel they will do a good job if you don't feel right about it don't do it. I personally wouldn't take a deal where they wanted me to pay towards the publishing cots before the book is published. Cost's of publishing should be recouped from the sales of the book and if the publisher believes the book will sell they will believe that they will not only recoup the costs but make a profit too. Remember for a book to become a best seller it does not always need a huge first print run. After all Harry Potter started off with only had an initial print run of 1000 copies and it became the biggest selling book franchise in history. Another question would be what are the publishing house's distribution outlets ask where do they distribute book to be sold is it book shops, internet sites or supermarkets if so which ones. but I would say you should not be paying towards the publishing costs of your novel. those costs should be recouped from the sales and the publishers percentage of the sales they should not be taken from your royalties as lets be honest your royalties are a very small percentage of the books sales and are in effect your wages for the work of writing the book. would you allow your boss in your day job to say to you that they were going to keep your wages to buy stock. It's the same basic principal at work here.
     

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