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sense
12-01-2011, 02:53 AM
I am in the very early stages of writing a memoir. It's going to be a hit, I am certain of it. Even though completion and publishing is a ways away, I'm wondering what the best avenue for someone like me would be for getting my book out there. I only plan on writing this one book. Augusten Burroughs "Running with Scissors" might be a good comparison for my kind of story.

Is it common to self E-publish and (before or after?) shop around for a traditional publisher to pick up the hardcover and paperback separately? I am worried about maximizing the royalty % I can get, since I am pouring myself into this project. Even though it's just my first book, it will be my only one so it's not like I"m just testing the waters.

Drachen Jager
12-01-2011, 03:09 AM
Everyone has a memoir these days. Unless you are famous, or the memoir is truly incredible you probably won't get that much return.

Bubastes
12-01-2011, 03:17 AM
Cart, horse. Finish and polish your book, then worry about which publication avenue to take. The options will still be here when you're ready.

Filigree
12-01-2011, 03:23 AM
What Bubastes said. Memoirs have an uphill slog in any market, so yours has to be incredible. Write, revise, polish, get beta-readers, and then try to figure out a marketing angle. I'm not saying don't do it at all. Just be committed to doing it very well, so you stand out among the hordes.

Giant Baby
12-01-2011, 03:56 AM
Agreed. BUT, to touch on one of your questions, if you're considering shopping your book to agents or publishers, do not self-publish first (in print or e format). And, if you think you'll want an agent to shop it to the Big Six and other publishers who take agented-only submissions, it's also best not to simultaneously (or previously) send to publishers you can approach on your own. Agents tend to shy away from pre-shopped goods.

leahzero
12-01-2011, 04:27 AM
It's going to be a hit, I am certain of it.

Mmmm-hmmm.


Is it common to self E-publish and (before or after?) shop around for a traditional publisher to pick up the hardcover and paperback separately?

No. If you self-publish, you've burned the first rights of publication of your work. The chances of agents/editors being interested in an already self-published book are slim to none, unless the book becomes some runaway bestseller. The odds of a self-published book becoming a runaway bestseller are also slim to none.

Slim-to-none2 is not a worthwhile investment of your time or energy.


I am worried about maximizing the royalty % I can get, since I am pouring myself into this project. Even though it's just my first book, it will be my only one so it's not like I"m just testing the waters.

You are definitely putting the cart before the horse.

Forget about the business aspect for now. Write the best book you can write. Worry about this stuff later, when you've done more research and can ask more informed questions.

sense
12-01-2011, 04:27 AM
Agreed. BUT, to touch on one of your questions, if you're considering shopping your book to agents or publishers, do not self-publish first (in print or e format). And, if you think you'll want an agent to shop it to the Big Six and other publishers who take agented-only submissions, it's also best not to simultaneously (or previously) send to publishers you can approach on your own. Agents tend to shy away from pre-shopped goods.

Thank you for responding to the question. I know I'm way ahead of myself, but I'm curious about the publishing stuff down the road to dangle a carrot in front of me thats all.

Does someone know the breakdown for royalty %'s for the various avenues of publishing? I'm reading conflicting things.

Little Ming
12-01-2011, 05:08 AM
Thank you for responding to the question. I know I'm way ahead of myself, but I'm curious about the publishing stuff down the road to dangle a carrot in front of me thats all.

Does someone know the breakdown for royalty %'s for the various avenues of publishing? I'm reading conflicting things.

It's conflicting because there's no universal rule for how royalties are done. % can be on retail price, gross or net. How net is calculated can also be an issue. If the book is sold from the publishers own website will have a different % than if it is sold from a third party. Even authors writing for the same publishers can get different royalty rates. Some authors get a bigger advance and smaller royalties, the reverse is also possible. Some authors get a lower royalty rate but also a multiple book contract. You can get different rates for hardcover, softcover, mass market, reprints and electronic.

But generally speaking, if you self-publish you will get the highest % of selling price because there are less people to pay (usually more than 50%). Generally the next highest is for (not self) e-publishing (somewhere around 50%). The lowest rate of royalty will be if you go with one of the big commercial publishers (usually less than 20%).

But just looking at the % of royalty is really an inaccurate way of trying to determine which path to take.

Self-publishing (whether print or e) will require you to do A LOT more work. Cover art, editing, formatting, distribution, marketing, promotion, etc is all on you as the author. This can easily take months of your life away. And you will have to front the cost of all these things. If your book sinks (and there is a high chance of this, no matter how awesome you think your book is) you have to eat this cost.

If you go with a commercial publisher (beware of any publisher that calls itself a "traditional publisher") they will do the edits, the covers, the editing, formatting, marketing, they have connections to get your books to reviewers and on to book shelves that you as a self-published author will never see. And they also eat the cost of all this work. If your book sinks you still get to keep your advance.

AFAIK, memoirs are not very popular for publishers who are only in e-publishing. Someone else more knowledgeable should comment here.

Bottom line, don't just focus on the royalties, look at the big picture. Selling a book is just like any other business. Be realistic, how much of producing a book can you do yourself? How much time can you dedicate to this book (aside from writing it)? If you outsource (get a cover designer or editor) can you afford to pay these people out of pocket? Do you have the resources to sell this book? Can you market it? You can write the best book in the world, but if you can't market or distribute it, it's still dead in the water.

Good luck.

sense
12-01-2011, 06:08 AM
It's conflicting because there's no universal rule for how royalties are done. % can be on retail price, gross or net. How net is calculated can also be an issue. If the book is sold from the publishers own website will have a different % than if it is sold from a third party. Even authors writing for the same publishers can get different royalty rates. Some authors get a bigger advance and smaller royalties, the reverse is also possible. Some authors get a lower royalty rate but also a multiple book contract. You can get different rates for hardcover, softcover, mass market, reprints and electronic.

But generally speaking, if you self-publish you will get the highest % of selling price because there are less people to pay (usually more than 50%). Generally the next highest is for (not self) e-publishing (somewhere around 50%). The lowest rate of royalty will be if you go with one of the big commercial publishers (usually less than 20%).

But just looking at the % of royalty is really an inaccurate way of trying to determine which path to take.

Self-publishing (whether print or e) will require you to do A LOT more work. Cover art, editing, formatting, distribution, marketing, promotion, etc is all on you as the author. This can easily take months of your life away. And you will have to front the cost of all these things. If your book sinks (and there is a high chance of this, no matter how awesome you think your book is) you have to eat this cost.

If you go with a commercial publisher (beware of any publisher that calls itself a "traditional publisher") they will do the edits, the covers, the editing, formatting, marketing, they have connections to get your books to reviewers and on to book shelves that you as a self-published author will never see. And they also eat the cost of all this work. If your book sinks you still get to keep your advance.

AFAIK, memoirs are not very popular for publishers who are only in e-publishing. Someone else more knowledgeable should comment here.

Bottom line, don't just focus on the royalties, look at the big picture. Selling a book is just like any other business. Be realistic, how much of producing a book can you do yourself? How much time can you dedicate to this book (aside from writing it)? If you outsource (get a cover designer or editor) can you afford to pay these people out of pocket? Do you have the resources to sell this book? Can you market it? You can write the best book in the world, but if you can't market or distribute it, it's still dead in the water.

Good luck.

thanks you bring up good points to consider.

ugh, i think deep in my heart I just want to self publish. something about it just feels right. i think about 75% of me wants self-pub. but I guess I could always just try and test the waters and submit to the big six. i could always turn them down I guess.

Gravity
12-01-2011, 07:24 AM
Knowing in advance how many copies are you're wishing to sell will in large part determine if you want to self-pub, or try the commercial route.

Commercial publishing involves craft, time, craft, patience, craft, teachability, and craft. The upshot, of course, is if you do land a deal with a solid house, your audience may be quite sizable.

With self-pubbing (or vanity pubbing), you're very likely to already know all your readers by their first names.

Lucy
12-01-2011, 09:18 AM
I am in the very early stages of writing a memoir. It's going to be a hit, I am certain of it.

The fact that you said this means it almost certainly will not. But good luck.

Drachen Jager
12-01-2011, 10:13 AM
If you go with a commercial publisher (beware of any publisher that calls itself a "traditional publisher") they will do the edits, the covers, the editing, formatting, marketing, they have connections to get your books to reviewers and on to book shelves that you as a self-published author will never see. And they also eat the cost of all this work. If your book sinks you still get to keep your advance.

Publishers don't generally 'do' the edits. They give the author a list of edits.

Also, you said both 'edits' and 'editing' (just an editorial comment).

Terie
12-01-2011, 10:37 AM
As the co-ghostwriter of a memoir that has done extremely well and whose subject (so far, at least) is a one-and-done author, I can put it to you very simply how it's done: the exact same way as any other commercially published book.

We queried agents. When we didn't get any bites, we started to query publishers directly. One publisher came close to a 'yes' but ultimately rejected it, but the acquisitions editor knew of an agent who she thought would be interested. That agent picked it up and sold it for a good-sized advance.

The book is about an important current issue (forced marriage), and it got a lot of media attention when it was released. To give you an idea of how well-publicised the book was: I had a stack of copies on my desk at work, and an electrician who was in doing some work in the computer centre recognised it and asked why I had so many copies. Also, one of the mods of this very forum was aware of the book and was pretty sure she owned a copy, even though she only recently discovered my personal involvement in the project.

So, to answer your original question again: you get a memoir published the same way as any other book. Your desire to write more books or not is irrelevant to the process.

The only real difference is that agents generally aren't interested in picking up one-and-done authors except in the field of memoir. They typically are interested in representing an author's career, but in the field of memoir, it's not uncommon for the author to write only one book, and agents who rep memoir know this.

sense
12-01-2011, 10:39 AM
Knowing in advance how many copies are you're wishing to sell will in large part determine if you want to self-pub, or try the commercial route.

Commercial publishing involves craft, time, craft, patience, craft, teachability, and craft. The upshot, of course, is if you do land a deal with a solid house, your audience may be quite sizable.

With self-pubbing (or vanity pubbing), you're very likely to already know all your readers by their first names.

what do you mean craft?

sense
12-01-2011, 10:54 AM
The only real difference is that agents generally aren't interested in picking up one-and-done authors except in the field of memoir. They typically are interested in representing an author's career, but in the field of memoir, it's not uncommon for the author to write only one book, and agents who rep memoir know this.

Thanks, I was wondering about this aspect. And congrats on your work, sounds like a success.

sense
12-01-2011, 10:57 AM
Anybody know a good forum or source for reading more about the business aspect of the industry?

I was reading about the deal for "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" b/c I also feel like it's somewhat comparable to my story and style, and the article said he got 1.4 million for paperback rights. That seems wrong/too high.

djf881
12-01-2011, 01:51 PM
I am in the very early stages of writing a memoir. It's going to be a hit, I am certain of it.


Have you ever had the feeling that people on the Internet are laughing at you?

shaldna
12-01-2011, 02:57 PM
I am in the very early stages of writing a memoir.

I get your enthusiasm, but finish the book before you even think about publishing.



It's going to be a hit, I am certain of it.

Memoirs are a hard sell. Unless you are a celebrity then most people aren't interested.




Is it common to self E-publish and (before or after?) shop around for a traditional publisher to pick up the hardcover and paperback separately?

No.

Most publishers will want first printing rights, and will also want the electronic rights.



I am worried about maximizing the royalty % I can get, since I am pouring myself into this project. Even though it's just my first book, it will be my only one so it's not like I"m just testing the waters.

The problem here is that you are only planning on writing one book. ever. From a publishing standpoint that's not desirable. Publishers spend a lot of time and money on new writers, and want to know that a writer is planning on a career. A writer who is only planning on a single book is not as desirable as it means the publisher spends time and money building up the writer and then they never write again.

shaldna
12-01-2011, 03:06 PM
Anybody know a good forum or source for reading more about the business aspect of the industry?

There are good sub forums here on the business aspect of the industry, just scroll down until you find the ones that you are interested in.



I was reading about the deal for "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" b/c I also feel like it's somewhat comparable to my story and style, and the article said he got 1.4 million for paperback rights. That seems wrong/too high.

Some books can go for crazy high amounts, 1.4 million is not the highest I've heard of.

Most writers, however, get much more modest amounts - think between 5 and 20 thousand pounds.

Phaeal
12-01-2011, 06:47 PM
The first question my agent asked was, "Are you working on another book?" My sense is that agents want career writers, not one-timers, so approaching agents with the bold assertion that this will be your only book is not a wise approach. ;)

On the other hand, unless you're intent on approaching the major publishers who require submission through an agent, you don't need one.

Craft? Craft is technique. Craft is knowing your tools and how to use them. Perfecting craft is the work of many years. Which is why for many people with only one book in them, it might not be a bad idea to approach a ghost or co-writer.

Gravity
12-01-2011, 06:49 PM
what do you mean craft?

The craft of writing, some of which can be taught, some of which is instinctive.

ETA: Phael said it first ... and better. :D

Filigree
12-01-2011, 09:54 PM
If you read *a lot*, and read critically (thinking about what you read), you can pick up good writing tips by osmosis. But it takes time.

Stacia Kane
12-01-2011, 09:57 PM
Anybody know a good forum or source for reading more about the business aspect of the industry?

You're on it. This is IMO the best forum on the web for writers to learn about craft and the business of publishing.

I also suggest you look at some writers' websites. Lots of us blog about publishing and the business; I have a tag on my blog for it and I know I'm not the only one. Lots of agents blog, too, and their blogs are usually highly informative.

If you look in the Bewares section here there's a thread called "How REAL Publishing Works." That will give you a good base knowledge. But really, take some time and read a lot of threads in that forum, and in others. Publishing is a very complex business, and it takes time to learn it. We can help, but you have to dig a little. :)




I was reading about the deal for "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" b/c I also feel like it's somewhat comparable to my story and style, and the article said he got 1.4 million for paperback rights. That seems wrong/too high.

No, it's probably about right. But that book was a huge hit, keep in mind. And seven-figure deals are very rare (six-figure deals are fairly rare too, although that depends on whether it's high six figures or low six figures).


Once you have 50 posts you can post an excerpt of your book in the Share Your Work section, and get feedback from members of the forum, many of whom are professional, commercially published authors. Share Your Work is password-protected (password is "vista") so Google and other search engines don't "read" it, so it's pretty safe. I urge you to check out SYW and give some feedback on works already posted there, too, because nothing sharpens our writing skills like critiquing others (at least in my experience and the experience of many others).

Plus, SYW is just fun, generally. It's always a kick to see what others are working on, and to help and encourage them. :) I try to pop in there when I have time, which sadly isn't as often as I'd like but still.

So I hope to see you around the forum! There's lots here to learn. I honestly don't think I'd be published if not for AW.

IceCreamEmpress
12-01-2011, 10:29 PM
I was reading about the deal for "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" b/c I also feel like it's somewhat comparable to my story and style

At least one difference between you and Dave Eggers is that when he wrote and sold A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, he was well known in publishing circles as the founder of McSweeney's, which had a lot of buzz.

And the paperback rights commanded a high price because the hardcover had been so astonishingly successful.

Don't compare your chances to the surprising successes (even to the writers themselves) of professional writers with strong connections in the publishing industry. Eggers has said on many occasions that the reception of AHWoSG still seems like a fluke or a lottery win to him; he was expecting the book to sell at the level of most well-reviewed memoirs, 20 or 30 thousand copies.



Similarly, when you're comparing your chances of big success in self-publishing, don't compare yourself to multi-title authors like Amanda Hocking. One of the reasons she's sold so well is that people who enjoyed one of her books sought out all the rest. If you're only planning to write the one book, you're not going to get that kind of carry-over effect.

rainsmom
12-02-2011, 07:47 AM
Similarly, when you're comparing your chances of big success in self-publishing, don't compare yourself to multi-title authors like Amanda Hocking. One of the reasons she's sold so well is that people who enjoyed one of her books sought out all the rest. If you're only planning to write the one book, you're not going to get that kind of carry-over effect.
This. Amanda Hocking is EXTREMELY prolific -- turning out a new book every few months -- and that is how she built her audience and earned her money. It's very difficult for writers with a single title to make the same kind of sales. Genre is critical too. Some genres -- like the one Hocking writes for -- sell really well for self-published authors. Others, not so much. You need to find out the scoop on memoir before pursuing that.

Also, realize that if you pursue self-publishing you're going to need to foot the bill for editing (which can run thousands of dollars), cover design, and marketing up front. Those are costs you may never recoup. An *extremely* high percentage of self-published authors lose money.

sense
12-02-2011, 11:10 AM
I also suggest you look at some writers' websites. Lots of us blog about publishing and the business; I have a tag on my blog for it and I know I'm not the only one. Lots of agents blog, too, and their blogs are usually highly informative.


thanks i'll have ot look into this...any favs you wanna share links to?

THANKS to everyone for chiming in. very helpful.