Monday, December 11, 2006

Your "Work" Is Not Your "Book."

Marketing Tip: If you come to us with a book project, part of our spiel will be that "your work is not your book." Once you "get" this, you will have an easier time thinking about your marketing task ahead. Here's why. To be successful, you must first have a clear idea about what your "work" is. Your "work" is a term that combines your purpose, your message, and your goals into one word. Let's say your "work" is to save the endangered bumpkin. Your coffee-table book, The Bumpkins of Burma: The Last of a Breed, supports your "work" (saving bumpkins), as does your bumpkin blog, your bumpkin website, your articles about bumpkins, your public-relations efforts, your workshops on bumpkin-saving, and the bumpkin-watching tours that you lead twice a year. You realize that your "marketing" is aimed at promoting your message--save the bumpkin--and you never miss an opportunity to use these various channels to promote your message. When you do this, you notice that there is a certain synergy in your efforts. For example, you find that Bumpkins of Burma not only gives you the chance to promote your blog, your website, your workshops, and your tours but seems to be generating more interest in you as a presenter and in your projects. Moreover, you find that you have something to sell every time you appear somewhere, even when you appear for free, and suddenly you start to like this idea of synergy. Surprisingly, this principle works for fiction authors, too. In other words, the "work" of a poet or novelist is the poem or novel, which can be delivered in person (through readings), on tape, in multi-media, online, and in a hundred other ways--as well as in a book. But the book intensifies the synergy. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Priority Mail: The Best Thing Since the Three-Cent Stamp

Shipping Tip #1: Okay, sending a small package by Priority Mail will cost you $4.05, which seems like a long way from the three-cent stamp. But here's why it's a good deal for book shippers: You get to use their free envelope! If you go out and buy a decent envelope for your book and then try to save money by shipping the book media rate, it will have cost you about as much as Priority Mail and your package won't arrive as quickly. So what's the point? Within the States, we almost always ship book orders by Priority Mail. If we're concerned about delivery, we add on their delivery confirmation service.

Shipping Tip #2: Don't forgret to add a shipping charge to your mail orders. For a single book, you'll want to make it $5.00 or more (to cover Priority Mail). I'm not a big fan of this, but you can set your shipping charges higher so that you can set your book price(s) a bit lower. Just don't forget to have a shipping-charge schedule. Otherwise, any profits on selling your book will disappear. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Sweat the Royalties.

Other Things Are More Important: Book royalties are a nifty idea, just because they are a way for a publisher to share a book's success with the author. Which is as it should be. However, while nice, royalties aren't that nice. Here's why:
  • You won't get that cash "advance": Okay, you might, but probably not if a) the publisher doesn't give advances and b) if you are a first-time (published) author. If you do get an advance, keep in mind that you are getting an "advance" against royalties owed to you down the road. This will delay any further payments made to you.
  • You won't see any money for a long time: Maybe three years, maybe never. Your contract will tell you how and when your royalties should be paid. This varies with the publisher. However, royalties are paid on books sold, and this will be calculated according to periods of time, a quarter to a full calendar year, and then made payable on some schedule. In other words, your royalties for sales in calendar year 2007 might not become payable until July of the following year. In addition, your contract might even absolve the publisher from paying cash royalties at all under some conditions--for example, if your project does not make a profit. In this case, you won't see any cash royalties (see below for other options).
  • Your royalty percentage doesn't matter: Okay, of course it matters. Just not as much as you think it does. The reality is that a smart publisher can only afford to give you so much of the pie. Think about it. If your publisher goofs and gives you a royalty share that is so high she loses money on the sale of every book, she quickly will stop selling your book (or go out of business, in debt to you). On the other hand, if he gives you a stingy royalty, so much so that he makes a terrific profit on the sale of each book, he will be more likely to work hard selling your book. Which is best for you? The stingier publisher.
In practice, this means that you shouldn't worry too much about the royalty terms your publisher gives you--assuming the publisher is a good fit for other reasons. Here are four things that are more important:
  • Get a good deal on books you purchase: You should get something comparable to a bookstore discount, 40% on orders of small quantities with an increasing discount for larger orders. Try to get a discount for large orders of at least 50%. If you're buying copies right off of the first press run, you might be able to negotiate an even even deeper discount.
  • Get an advance in copies of your book: While most publishers will not give you an advance against royalties in cash, they will usually be happy to give you advance against the estimated royalties for a year in the form of copies of your book. Usually, the value of these books will be calculated according to the discount schedule you negotiated above. This is a win-win deal. Your publisher makes out because she is eliminating some of her long-term liability (your royalties) with books that she might have printed at $2.00 a book and given to you as a royalty at a value of $10.00 a book. You make out because you are getting a book worth $10.00 to you--but without paying any cash at all--that you can turn around and sell at a retial price of, say, $20.00. If you can sell your books, you've just doubled your royalty. Like I said, it's win-win.
  • Get the right to buy books against royalties: Related to the above, make sure you can always buy books against royalties owed, even if not otherwise payable in cash. It's a good deal.
  • Make sure you get your rights back: Publishers do not keep in print books that do not sell at a certain level. To protect yourself from a book going out of print, make sure you can get your rights back if a book is taken out of print. In many cases, you might not be able to get all rights to revert to you. However, you should be able to guarantee that you can continue to print an edition of your own in the event the publisher discontinues the book.
The Publishing Pro, LLC.