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On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is publishing in NY the right or wrong choice

Is publishing in NY the right or wrong choice? And what keeps a NY editor's attention?

On an average day I get a few inquiries from novice authors regarding whether a publishing house in NY is better then an ebook publisher.

The subject recently came up with all the hoopla going on about the big guns going e-book and settling in on the competition.

It doesn't make one bit of difference whether you get published in NY or online these days because the majority of the online publishers offer print contracts. There is a difference between the time you wait to get your books out though. NY can take up to two years to get your print book out as opposed to three to six months with an e-publisher. There is also a huge difference regarding your contract and royalties.

While NY can offer you a lucrative advance up to one million dollars if your name is Bill Clinton, as a small author you won't find an advance larger than $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the book and what the demand is for that type of book. How you market it, how it will compare to others so on and so forth. You may see higher advances if you are submitting a series. Although some of the top authors are getting substantially more. I'm talking about the old timers.

Your royalty payments from NY will range 5% to 7% depending on how well you can negotiate a contract. (You will need an agent for this). You still have to sell to reach the amount of your advance before you will even begin to receive any more money, and the downfall of this business is, if you don't sell you have to be prepared to return that money, and not to mention they can and will drop your contract, and you get paid ONCE a year...try to pay your monthly bills on that.

You still have to promote your books, schedule book signings and still meet your deadlines..In NY there is no such thing as a "late" manuscript unless there is blood or fire. They work on numerous manuscripts and don't have the time in their schedule to wait for an author to complete a book that was due under contract on a certain date and cannot fulfill their obligation.

Once you are in NY, you may want to consider hiring a marketing company and an agent. The position of the agent is to negotiate higher contracts for you and handle your business needs, although they do take a hefty 15% of your sales. Something to consider if you're only selling
$2,000 in books a year and your royalties are 5% of those sales.

Now consider what your return is in the e-book industry...First of all you are offered two to five year contracts at anywhere from 35% to 50% royalties paid monthly to every three months, again depending on the company. You get to have FREE scheduled online chats, FREE yahoo groups of your own, FREE blogs and depending where you go, FREE marketing. You get to network with other authors and receive free info. NY authors are not privy to assist other authors if it takes money from their own bank accounts.

Granted it can be a lot of work in the ebook industry, but you reap what you sow. A word of encouragement...several authors are making six figure royalty checks annually in the e-book industry already and they began their careers within the last four years.

NY authors worked for years on their careers to make it to the top. Not everyone can be JK Rowlings, James Patterson or Stephen King over night. But right now the money is in the e-book industry..I know, some of you are saying "where?" It is a bad economy, but just look at the stats in the book stores and that will tell you where the sales have been. Look at the stats for sales in hand held readers, people are reading books on their breaks in the office. Most people spend their time on a computer, not lying in bed with a book. The technology is changing fast, eventually the book stores will close and everything will be purchased online and in e-book format. Borders is already closed along with Walden.

Time spent with a reputable e-book publisher right now is the best decision you can make as far as your career. The positive here outweighs the negative in NY. There is a work overload in NY, too much overhead and there is always constant change in the editorial department. You want an editor who is familiar with your work, not to start all over again with a new one who may loathe your work and pass it to someone else.

Yes you will find that in e-books but not as much. The money you make in e-publishing depends on how far you are willing to go to get yourself out there and establish a healthy readership. We put our readers first as I know all of you do. But you have to push that envelope. Getting into NY is not easy. They want the best in books..they want something that has magic, that says "WOW!" the moment they begin reading the first sentence. A book that flows and has to remain flowing until they reach the end of your story. A book that will keep them on the edge of their seat and one they can't put down until it's done.

They want the book that will make them cheer for your hero, cry for him, laugh with him. They want that character to have as many flaws as possible to be as human as possible, and they want that love to be real and genuine between the hero and heroine. And when you can wow a NY editor like that, you are ready. My suggestion is to read Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series and I cannot stress this enough. Diana has created one heck of a character in Jaime Frazier that will last you a lifetime. Another character is my beloved Harry Potter, whose left an orphan to be raised by selfish evil relatives, finds out he is a wizard beyond all the abuse and basically saves the day...flaws, flaws, flaws, is the name of the game. Too long have I read about transparent characters...boy meets girl, falls in love with the damsel in distress they get pulled apart shoved back together again and then wed...BORING! Yes it's good to think outside the box but not too far that you write something that will never sell. Stay within the boundries, write what's in your heart and give that story as much feeling as you can muster. Place your character in the worse case scenario then bring them back slowly.

Editors and readers alike will be drawn into a story if you create a character with a plot they can identify with. You don't have to have that shapely voluptuous heroine and that hunky hero. If everyone in real life looked like that we would be one heck of a boring race. Think in terms of diversity, different cultures, gay, lesbian, transgendered...they exist in real life so why create characters you'd only see on the runways in fashion shows or in GQ?

In Lone Huntress, we created Lisa as a behemoth adult female. Not so normal with flaws that every woman would be able to identify with, once a little girl who witnessed her tribe being slaughtered then being the only survivor. She becomes a grown woman who feels she isn't attractive, is raised by the Bounty Hunter who saved her life from the pirates, has no clue how to raise a girl but does it in the best possible way he knows how. She is bitter from the memories of her childhood, becomes self reliant and independant, and trains to be the most feared Bounty Hunter as goes after the ones who destroyed her life. But in the process she learns to grow, learns about herself, finds strength in the relationships she finds and tries to survive...thus you now have a female character our readers can identify with, cry with, laugh with and love with. We gave her real life attributes. That's what NY wants to see. Give your stories 3 dimentional life.

No matter who you are writing for, e-publishers or NY they will all think the same. They all want that diamond in the rough, they do not just publish any book unless they are an unprofessional publisher still wet behind the ears, and thankfully they are defunct. But what I am saying is weigh your options, see what you think is best for you and your career. But if you feel you aren't ready for NY don't stress. You still get better benefits from your e-publisher. And until NY can match what I get with my ebook publishers I'm not so willing to switch yet and wouldn't suggest it to others.

To Happy Writing,

AP Miller


C.R. Moss said...

thanks for this article! you made some valid points. ny vs e-book to me means time. i'm an impatient person so timing is everything. lol!

Lynn Crain said...

Lots of good information, AP.

I know you have to do both. Most NYC authors I know ARE doing both because they see that it is a good thing. But I have to agree with Chris...I'm impatient...and NYC is way behind the curve on getting things out in a timely manner.

Mainly, I stick with my epublishers because they will treat me better with everything. Still, I wouldn't mind having a NYC contract but that takes time and just the right story.


Stephani Hecht said...

I often debate on whether or not to send something to a NY publisher. Right now I am so happy with my current publisher, I feel content to stay.

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