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OneTeam OneDream
06-06-2005, 03:02 AM
I've got a few questions hopefully someone can answer. I have sent one query letter, and was asked for full ms. Since that time I have racked my brain so I'm glad I found you.

1. At the time the query was sent, I was 25,000 words into an approx 90-100k word non-fiction ms. How long is too long for them before I send the ms?


2. This is a sports related non-fiction book, and this company pretty commonly publishes books of this nature, based on the subject, I have recieved media attention about the book, and from that I have been offered an option for screenplay rights if the book is published. Are screenplay and ms rights 2 different things?


3. If we dismiss the movie idea for a second, this book will sell a maximum of 5000 copies. (Unless of course it happened to get reviewed by the right person) I explained this in the query and still got a request. Would they really publish a book that would only sell between 1500-5000 copies?


Thanks for your help.

victoriastrauss
06-06-2005, 08:46 PM
1. At the time the query was sent, I was 25,000 words into an approx 90-100k word non-fiction ms. How long is too long for them before I send the ms?This is one reason why it's a good idea to have finished your ms. before starting to query. That said, nonfiction is often sold on the basis of a proposal and sample chapters, so it's not unusual for nonfiction authors to query before the ms. is done. Tell them you have sample chapters and a proposal, and can send that.

If you don't have a proposal, Jeff Herman's WRITER'S GUIDE has a good article on how to write one. Established agent Jeff Kleinman also offers good advice. (http://www.graybillandenglish.com/nfjmk.htm)

2. This is a sports related non-fiction book, and this company pretty commonly publishes books of this nature, based on the subject, I have recieved media attention about the book, and from that I have been offered an option for screenplay rights if the book is published. Are screenplay and ms rights 2 different things?Yes. The publisher will often want to market dramatic rights itself (in which case it splits the proceeds with you), though sometimes the author can negotiate to keep these rights. If the publisher is serious about holding onto dramatic rights and you've already optioned those rights on the ms., it could be a dealbreaker. On the other hand, if you come to them with a commitment to option dramatic rights if the book is published, it might make you more appealing.

3. If we dismiss the movie idea for a second, this book will sell a maximum of 5000 copies. (Unless of course it happened to get reviewed by the right person) I explained this in the query and still got a request. Would they really publish a book that would only sell between 1500-5000 copies?Possibly. Depends on the publisher. Also, the publisher (which, if it is a commercial publisher, will make every effort to get the book reviewed by the right people) is probably better qualified than you to judge sales potential. How did you arrive at the 5,000 figure?

- Victoria

OneTeam OneDream
06-06-2005, 09:10 PM
This is one reason why it's a good idea to have finished your ms. before starting to query. That said, nonfiction is often sold on the basis of a proposal and sample chapters, so it's not unusual for nonfiction authors to query before the ms. is done. Tell them you have sample chapters and a proposal, and can send that.

If you don't have a proposal, Jeff Herman's WRITER'S GUIDE has a good article on how to write one. Established agent Jeff Kleinman also offers good advice. (http://www.graybillandenglish.com/nfjmk.htm)
Yes. The publisher will often want to market dramatic rights itself (in which case it splits the proceeds with you), though sometimes the author can negotiate to keep these rights. If the publisher is serious about holding onto dramatic rights and you've already optioned those rights on the ms., it could be a dealbreaker. On the other hand, if you come to them with a commitment to option dramatic rights if the book is published, it might make you more appealing.
Possibly. Depends on the publisher. Also, the publisher (which, if it is a commercial publisher, will make every effort to get the book reviewed by the right people) is probably better qualified than you to judge sales potential. How did you arrive at the 5,000 figure?

- Victoria


Even though their site says they will ask for a proposal second, (and I had one ready to go), they went straight to asking for ms. I thought I would have more time by sending the proposal, I don't now. So how much time is too much time?


The option rights are under the basis that the book is published. No option rights until the book is published, so although I would like to use that as leverage, it would be difficult to do without sounding arrogant.


The 5,000 figure came from the fact this story only affected about 2500 people. So I figure 50-75% of those will purchase it, and the others will purchase it based on book reviews that I have lined up in major cities that are not my own.

Thanks for the help! You guys are great here!

Andrew Zack
06-10-2005, 09:35 PM
1. At the time the query was sent, I was 25,000 words into an approx 90-100k word non-fiction ms. How long is too long for them before I send the ms? I'm not sure I understand this question. You queried them but now you want to send the MS? If they haven't requested it, you shouldn't send it. However, nonfiction can be sold on an outline and chapters, so if they request more, you can submit that.


2. This is a sports related non-fiction book, and this company pretty commonly publishes books of this nature, based on the subject, I have recieved media attention about the book, and from that I have been offered an option for screenplay rights if the book is published. Are screenplay and ms rights 2 different things? Yes, they are different and a good literary agent will market both. I have never sold movie rights to a book to a publisher and no good agent will do so.


3. If we dismiss the movie idea for a second, this book will sell a maximum of 5000 copies. (Unless of course it happened to get reviewed by the right person) I explained this in the query and still got a request. Would they really publish a book that would only sell between 1500-5000 copies? I'm not sure why you feel this way, but most publishers I know would not be interested in publishing so few copies.

Best wishes,
Andy

Cathy C
06-11-2005, 01:10 AM
Well, I guess the big question I'd ask you is "How long will it take you to finish?" If you can be done in a couple of weeks, terrific. No problem. If, on the other hand, you realistically believe it will take you another year, then tell them so, and offer to send the 25K you have completed with an estimate of your completion date. Sometimes, if you explain that researching took longer than you expected (a perfectly legitimate excuse for non-fiction) you can buy an extra couple of months.

As for movie rights, everyone else has already explained the difference between book rights and dramatic rights. If you're unagented, you have to (again) realistically decide whether you think that you can, in fact, market those rights yourself. If the publisher is a major publisher, they might well want to keep those rights, but even if you negotiated and retained them, could you find a home for the movie?

Also, I'd be interested to know why, if you think the book will only sell 5,000 copies, why you think anyone would want to make the movie? If this is a niche book (one with limited appeal to a specific group, or for a specific area, versus a mainstream book that would appeal to all adults, or all kids, etc.,) the movie rights are unlikely to get optioned. Not every NY Times bestseller gets the movie rights option.

Sports is a pretty big market. What's the book about that you're concerned about the sales?

OneTeam OneDream
06-14-2005, 06:36 AM
Well, I guess the big question I'd ask you is "How long will it take you to finish?" If you can be done in a couple of weeks, terrific. No problem. If, on the other hand, you realistically believe it will take you another year, then tell them so, and offer to send the 25K you have completed with an estimate of your completion date. Sometimes, if you explain that researching took longer than you expected (a perfectly legitimate excuse for non-fiction) you can buy an extra couple of months.

As for movie rights, everyone else has already explained the difference between book rights and dramatic rights. If you're unagented, you have to (again) realistically decide whether you think that you can, in fact, market those rights yourself. If the publisher is a major publisher, they might well want to keep those rights, but even if you negotiated and retained them, could you find a home for the movie?

Also, I'd be interested to know why, if you think the book will only sell 5,000 copies, why you think anyone would want to make the movie? If this is a niche book (one with limited appeal to a specific group, or for a specific area, versus a mainstream book that would appeal to all adults, or all kids, etc.,) the movie rights are unlikely to get optioned. Not every NY Times bestseller gets the movie rights option.

Sports is a pretty big market. What's the book about that you're concerned about the sales?



Okay, let me take these one at a time.


I Queried, and as opposed to asking for a proposal (I offered), they went straight to asking for FULL MS.


The movie rights is already on the table. There have been two major newspaper stories written about my book. One person was familiar with the story and asked if I was represented, I'm not, and asked if I would be interested in optioning the rights. He put a contract in front of me, I REFUSED to sign it until the book is in print. The entire beginning of me writing this was to write a book, its not about money or fame etc, its about this book, so I'm not letting anything take me away from that. He respected it and said that the offer was there whenever I wanted it.


The reason I think it will only sell 5000 at a max is the story is about a baseball team in from 8 years ago in Roanoke, Va. I can guarantee 1500, but beyond that I don't know. It is in the spirit of Friday Night Lights, but in my opinion written better. Although FNL was a bestseller, I believe it was a fluke, and most people aren't interested in reading about High School kids they've never heard of.


I appreciate everyone's help, and If I didn't answer your specific question, please let me know.

Chris

MadScientistMatt
06-14-2005, 04:40 PM
The reason I think it will only sell 5000 at a max is the story is about a baseball team in from 8 years ago in Roanoke, Va. I can guarantee 1500, but beyond that I don't know. It is in the spirit of Friday Night Lights, but in my opinion written better. Although FNL was a bestseller, I believe it was a fluke, and most people aren't interested in reading about High School kids they've never heard of.

I'm not so sure about that. While not everybody may know about that high school, a lot of people can relate to being a high school athlete with big dreams. Just because it's a story set in Virginia doesn't mean that high school ballplayers in California won't be interested in reading about it. I would think that a book about high school baseball could be of interest to anyone who is now playing high school baseball, has children playing baseball, or used to play baseball in high school, if you've got a compelling enough story behind it. Even if they may not know the characters, they're probably people the readers can relate to.

Don't sell youself short.

OneTeam OneDream
06-14-2005, 06:52 PM
I'm not so sure about that. While not everybody may know about that high school, a lot of people can relate to being a high school athlete with big dreams. Just because it's a story set in Virginia doesn't mean that high school ballplayers in California won't be interested in reading about it. I would think that a book about high school baseball could be of interest to anyone who is now playing high school baseball, has children playing baseball, or used to play baseball in high school, if you've got a compelling enough story behind it. Even if they may not know the characters, they're probably people the readers can relate to.

Don't sell youself short.



I have had those thoughts before, but I am a pessimist vs. an optimist so I always assume the least, not the most.