Guest Post: The Thrill of a Published Book

by Ruth Madison

We who dream of being authors anticipate for years holding a book in our hands with our name on the cover, the pages filled with out own words.

It is an amazing moment.

 But if can also feel a bit…unreal.

You’ve waited years for what you’ve written to be a proper book and now when you flip through the pages and see your own words, it feels like it must be a joke. These are your words and someone has put a binding on them, but they still look to you like the words you typed into Scrivener and saw scrolling by on your computer screen every day. Who hid them inside a book cover?

And then for us worrying types, it gets worse.

You’re on a high for a week, showing your book to everyone you know. But then worry catches up with you. You’ve accomplished this huge goal, but there’s another one waiting for you.

Will anyone buy it? Will anyone read it?

You start to worry that it will just sit there and not move a single copy and your publisher will wonder why they gave you this chance.

Then you see your sales figures. And it’s selling.

Another huge thrill that lasts a week or so. People are reading your work! People are connecting with the story that you have told!

Until worry catches up again. What if everyone hates it?

What if they think it’s awful and feel cheated and get angry at you? And you become consumed with anxiety again.

Then some reviews get posted. And they aren’t terrible. No one is yelling. Several people liked it and they thank you for writing it and you read their words with tears in your eyes (authors need your reviews like faeries need your claps!)

Yes, having your book published is quite a roller coaster ride.

I feel a little foolish for exposing the truth of my feelings like this. Aren’t I supposed to be just glowing with pride from the moment I get a contract until…well, forever? Is there something wrong with me that the thrill wears off and is replaced by worry each time?

Maybe there is! But I think it also helps me in being a career author. The high has to wear off so that I can go back to writing the next book, seeking to feel it again. Writing and drug addiction. Yeah, that’s totally the comparison I wanted to make. It’s true, though. Thrills never last forever, but they feel so good that we go back to doing whatever it was that allowed us to feel them in the first place. I’m glad for me that’s writing books. I’ve got plenty more ideas and I’ll keep chasing the elusive high that lasts.

Ruth’s first two books have just come out in their second editions…

(W)hole 

Paperback / Kindle /NookSmashwords

 

 

 

 

 

Breath(e)

Paperback / Kindle /Nook/ Smashwords

Visit Ruth at her site www.ruthmadison.com!

Is it a scam to not offer an advance?

Something has been bothering me and when something bothers me, I write about it!

Writing and publishing scams are all around us. And there’s a lot of great advice out there about how to avoid fake publishers who are going to steal your work or make you buy author services that don’t do much to help your book.

I live in fear of someone accusing me of being such an operation!

The fact is, we are a very small press. We’re just starting out and we don’t have a track record yet.

The best way to tell what’s definitely a scam from what isn’t has always been this:

Money flows from the publisher to the writer and not the other way around.

If a publisher ever asks for your money, that’s a bad sign. The publisher takes on the risk of fronting the cost for editing, proofreading, cover design, review copies, etc.

I think that is absolutely true.

But yesterday I saw someone on Twitter claiming that if a publisher is too small to be able to offer you an advance, they don’t have the money to be handling your book.

That’s definitely your choice to make as you look at your options for who should publish your book. It is a warning sign that money is very tight at that company and you don’t want to attach yourself to a sinking ship. But many very legitimate small presses cannot afford advances. We’re in that position now. I hope someday we’ll be able to offer advances, but right now we’re stretched to the max, putting all our money and other resources into promotion.

I asked the woman on Twitter about this and she said:

1) Writers need a show of confidence in their work in the form of money, since a publisher is going to be making money off of their hard work.

2) She is owed thousands from a bad experience with an indie publisher

3) She’s never seen a good indie publisher, they don’t pay their royalties and they don’t promote

So let me address those. The first is a very valid way of looking at it. If you’re concerned that you might contract with someone shady, then you might want that good faith money up front. However, a company that doesn’t offer that is not necessarily a scam.

As I said earlier, the publisher puts a ton of resources into the book behind the scenes before they even know if it’s going to make any money at all. Most of the risk is the publisher’s (and I think that’s why so many look for short cuts or ways to make money off the author instead of from legitimate book selling). My good faith showing in your book is the money that I’m putting into proofreading, editing, cover design, etc.

An advance is a mixed blessing because it is an advance against royalties. That money is nothing more than royalties up front and you won’t make any more on your books until it is recouped by the publisher. Many small presses offer a higher royalty rate and one that you’ll earn much faster by not having the advance.

As far as number two, I’m not sure how it is possible for the press to owe her money. If she’s talking about a small press that didn’t offer an advance, but was otherwise identical to the large houses (in other words, if the maxim of money flows only from publisher to author and not the other way around was followed, then where is this missing money?) I haven’t asked because I was starting to feel like I was getting overly defensive in talking with her and I do think she has a legitimate point.

What I think could have happened is that when small presses fail and declare bankruptcy, it can tie up the rights to your work. You may end up fighting a legal battle to get your writing back. That really sucks.  Coming from the background of being a writer myself, I will never let that happen in my press.

Again, we are a baby press. We don’t know yet if we’ll be able to thrive. We’ve got hard work and passion on our side, but if it looks like we aren’t going to be able to make it, my number one priority is to get authors the rights to their works. As well as any money they are owed. The money coming in goes to the author first and then gets divided up for the rest of the company. That is how I operate. I will go into debt myself rather than see any authors not get their rights returned immediately if my business goes under.

The last point is the strangest to me. In a publishing house where money is never taken from the author, then promotion is the only way for them to make any money at all.

We’re in this together, my authors and me. The only way for either one of us to make any money is if I am working my butt off promoting and getting sales for their books. The only source of money for this business is through getting sales of the books. Unless you are an author services company and selling authors “promotional packages” or what have you, then you have to promote the books.

All businesses intend to make money. They see a need and decide to fill it, expecting to be able to profit from filling that need. If one is greedy or selfish, one might see the dreams of thousands of aspiring novelists as a place to get money. Many, many indie and small presses are not like that. We do not take money from authors, we find a way to get them money by working very hard ourselves.

I’m not asking you to trust me. If you decide to sign with this press, then you will know all the risks and benefits up front and that’s your choice. It might be the best option for some. It might be a terrible option for others and so you are not forced to become my author! It’s only if it’s the right choice for you and what you want for your career.

I hope to have a track record soon. I’m working on releases now so we can see if this little baby press can fly. I’ve advised more than one author to wait before signing with me, to make sure that I can do all that I think I can do for their books.

When vetting a publisher, look at their track record. Look at what they have done and how their books are doing. Make sure that you understand any contracts before you sign them. Writers, you are the ones with product here. You are the ones in control.

Don’t let anyone take advantage of you, but also don’t dismiss the small publishers just because we can’t offer an advance. Believe me, we are hungry to prove ourselves and sometimes that’s a big advantage for you.