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View Full Version : I'm being offered a deal



efreysson
02-09-2016, 07:33 PM
I'm not sure what this process is called, but for a few months now I've gotten to know a fellow who makes a living by, er, preparing a sort of publicity package for a client and sending it out. He's offering to work with me to get my short story serial published, and in return he wants 5% of any payments I get from a publisher that bites. Assuming one does.

I'm pretty ignorant of general publishing matters. How does this offer compare to standard ones?

Barbara R.
02-09-2016, 07:47 PM
It sounds like he has nothing useful to offer. Most of the large publisher acquire books through literary agents, who usually take 15% on domestic rights, 20% on international. Anyone can call himself an agent, but if he doesn't have a verifiable track record of sales, he's just blowing smoke. Also, 5% of what you make on a sale of a volume short stories (an extremely hard & unlikely sell, btw, unless the stories have been published in prestigious magazines) wouldn't keep him in paperclips, so my guess is that eventually he's going to try to monetize this relationship by selling you some sort of marketing or publicity package.

You've come to a good place to familiarize yourself with how publishing works, how books make it into print. I'd encourage you to budget some time to learn more. For a writer it's natural and appropriate to seek publication, but you need to be smart and careful---there are a lot of sharks in these waters.

efreysson
02-09-2016, 08:05 PM
It sounds like he has nothing useful to offer. Most of the large publisher acquire books through literary agents, who usually take 15% on domestic rights, 20% on international. Anyone can call himself an agent, but if he doesn't have a verifiable track record of sales, he's just blowing smoke. Also, 5% of what you make on a sale of a volume short stories (an extremely hard & unlikely sell, btw, unless the stories have been published in prestigious magazines) wouldn't keep him in paperclips, so my guess is that eventually he's going to try to monetize this relationship by selling you some sort of marketing or publicity package.

You've come to a good place to familiarize yourself with how publishing works, how books make it into print. I'd encourage you to budget some time to learn more. For a writer it's natural and appropriate to seek publication, but you need to be smart and careful---there are a lot of sharks in these waters.


To clarify my situation, I'm translating my novels from Icelandic and I've already self-published two of them on Amazon (as e-books). I'm close to finishing the third, but I also have this short story serial side-project. I know serials are a tough sell, so I was just going to self-publish those it too, in the hopes of casting a wider net and drawing more attention to my work.

I thought I'd give this approach a try, since failure won't cost me anything, except a month's delay in publishing, and success will at least net me something.

ElaineA
02-09-2016, 08:20 PM
These are some questions you might consider: Why would a publisher "bite" on an already-published work? Is this publicist-person selling the promise of so huge an audience that publishers will come flocking a la Fifty Shades of Gray or The Martian? Do you have a built-in audience? A website with a good following? (Do you already have a sizable audience for your published your works in Iceland?) Or is this publicist saying he can offer an audience from scratch? How did the two of you connect? Did he approach you or vice-versa?

It's not clear to me what he can do that you can't, or why it would work, but there's the other side of the coin you mention. If you don't find a publisher, you don't owe him a dime. Unless there's something sketchy in his contract. I'd vet this guy very carefully (here on the Bewares and Background Check thread, and at Writer Beware), and if you still are interested, comb every line of the contract before you sign up. Make sure you get some kind of independent confirmation of what all the clauses mean. Don't let him tell you, "Oh, that just means..." And make sure you know where any disputes are resolved. If he is Icelandic doing business in Iceland, that's one thing. If he's American, that's something else entirely. You don't want to give 5% of everything you ever write forever, or be stuck with him in a way that needs a lawsuit to extract yourself. There's not a lot of upside for him here, either, which definitely makes my antennae twitch.

Cyia
02-09-2016, 08:45 PM
These are some questions you might consider: Why would a publisher "bite" on an already-published work?

I don't know if it's a good deal or not, but I do know that translations can be repackaged for new markets. It's not the same as a regular novel being picked up after publication by a new publisher.

ElaineA
02-09-2016, 09:00 PM
I don't know if it's a good deal or not, but I do know that translations can be repackaged for new markets. It's not the same as a regular novel being picked up after publication by a new publisher.

Acknowledged, but I don't think that's what's happening here. The OP says this relates to a separate short-story serial. However, I might very well have misunderstood the chain of events. I thought the publicist was offering to help attract publishers after efreysson had self-published them, not shop them before publication. If they're offering to shop them to publishers like an agent, that's a different thing. And another thing to make sure is well understood via the contract.

Curlz
02-09-2016, 09:36 PM
a fellow who makes a living by, er, preparing a sort of publicity package for a client and sending it out.
It's not standard to have "a publicity package" in order to make a publisher acquire your book. Unless you are talking about a "book packager", which is legit. If your friend knows publishers who use such method, then by all means this would be a good deal. That would mean your friend is simply replacing the "agent". Of course do check this person's credentials - what publishers he's sold work to, and are you happy with those publishers output.

Old Hack
02-09-2016, 10:24 PM
I would be very wary.

Has he sold work for any other writers? Is this where his expertise lies?

Perks
02-09-2016, 10:46 PM
A rule of thumb is always to make sure you need/want what someone is selling you. (And make no mistake, a 5% cut for services is a sales transaction.)

One of the most valuable things about AW is that you can learn what components comprise the book trade (or in this case, short stories.) A pre-sale publicity package, especially for fiction, is unusual. (For non-fiction, a marketing plan in hand can be a good thing.)

There are any number of entities out there ready to hook onto to your work and effort for their own profit. Now, this isn't always a bad thing. These entities might be legitimate, with expertise and services that will be a mutually beneficial collaboration, or they might be clueless, thinking they're offering you something of value that's actually worthless or just as easy to do yourself for free. And, sadly, there are too many entities that are predatory, picking small percentages or outright fees, knowing full well that it won't do you or your project a bit of good.

A publicity package at this stage of your project seems out of place in the order of things, which is a bit of a red flag. Does this friend do publicity for other writers or mainly other types of businesses? I just recently had an issue with someone who was sure that their promotion idea was great for me because she's well-versed in restaurant publicity. In a word, no. It was a stupid idea for book publicity, but it was very difficult for her to see that.

Barbara R.
02-10-2016, 05:12 PM
I just recently had an issue with someone who was sure that their promotion idea was great for me because she's well-versed in restaurant publicity. In a word, no. It was a stupid idea for book publicity, but it was very difficult for her to see that.

May we know what that idea was, Perks? Because I had a great idea for publicizing my next book, and I'd hate to think it's been duplicated. My idea was for a double promotion, and it involved two books, two authors, one microphone, and a whole lot of mud.

Perks
02-10-2016, 06:00 PM
May we know what that idea was, Perks? Because I had a great idea for publicizing my next book, and I'd hate to think it's been duplicated. My idea was for a double promotion, and it involved two books, two authors, one microphone, and a whole lot of mud.

Your idea is much better. :)

This was just an appearance in a venue that was not in the least appropriate for me to play town crier about my book while unsuspecting patrons were just trying to eat their lunch and chat with their friends.

Sue D. Nimh
02-11-2016, 01:37 AM
I'm not an expert in this field by any stretch of the imagination, so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt.

I think you've been offered sound advice here already. My viewpoint comes from 50 years of life, not the publishing world. In that light, here's what I've learned:

For most of us, it's very difficult to not act (or react) based on our emotions. Life has proven that this very, very often comes with regrets, or at the very least, second thoughts. I've learned this the hard way far too many times and finally learned my lesson. Rarely do any decisions need to be made quickly. In business, which I do know well, any time quick decisions are being forced on you to perform a transaction, the word "no" will serve you well. When other people are pressuring you, it's usually for their benefit. People who do this tend to be impatient themselves, or are being pressured from someone else to make the sale.

It's in human nature to hear something that sounds great and want to believe it. Many people will even know in their heart that something isn't right about it, but want so desperately for it to be true, that they do it anyway. Diet pills, MLMs, etc.,

As writers, we all want to be published and sell well. We hear about reasonable sounding (or not so reasonable at times) offers from others in the industry - an industry overflowing with scams - but will still ask, "What if this one's legitimate though?"
Many, many, many writers have made emotional decisions like this and have regretted it.

Is the offer you mentioned legitimate and worthwhile? I don't know. But, what I do know, is that you shouldn't make your decision, especially saying yes, too quickly. If it's a "one time offer" or "special discount" if you act now... walk away. Follow the advice of others and research them fully. Find and contact other writers who have used their services and see how it worked for them.

My inclination is to decline, but that's me. I only want to publish the traditional way of submitting to agents and then finding a publisher. If I had to spend my own money to market and/or publish my own book, there's no way I would even begin step one of the process without researching the hell out of it and knowing every road, every path, every scam, and every detail of ever risk involved. Don't rely on luck. Rely on wisdom, patience and hard work.

Also, when you find something you really and truly want to do and be the best at, find a mentor. They're invaluable! Find one in the area of self-publishing. You'll be surprised how much those who have had success really do want to help others.

Lastly, I'm jealous you're from Iceland! If I had my life to live over again - knowing then what I know now - I would have moved to Iceland at the first opportunity! I wish you every success, my friend!