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Publishing Questions and answers about the publishing industry, featuring answers from literary agents, publisher writers, and editors.

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Old 13th March 2008, 11:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Publish and be dumbed?

Hi

I recently had an 'offer' from a publisher, agreeing to publish my novel (all editing etc with it), provided I pay a fee. I know that author contribution is becoming a norm, if only to show belief in one's own work. I agreed to see a contract and was stunned to see the fee as 2,700.00. I said 'no'; can't afford it and, while some like this route, I'm not a fan of what I believe is in reality self-publishing. The publisher, I have to say, disagreed that this was the case.

I've now been asked to send my novel in to another publisher. They're not very big and having looked at their books on Amazon, do not appear to be selling many books or indeed pushing them. I'm also concerned that I will be faced with another large fee.

I've also come around to the idea of a Literary Agent; I've approached one and am awaiting a response.


So, I've got myself in a bit of a mess. Do I pursue the publisher, whether good or not, or wait on the Literary Agent? I'm interested in any thoughts or similar experiences. Feel free to harangue me for dithering.
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

Yog's Law - money flows towards the author. "Author contribution" is not becoming the norm at all. Any publisher or agent who asks for a fee - avoid.
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

Yeah, which I adhere to as a philosophy, but given the costs of printing, a contribution is not unreasonable: a colleague of mine who's in publishing estimated a decent contribution to be around 300.00 to 500.00. It does show the author is willing to back their work up and covers some of the publisher's costs, though the publisher still has to invest themselves.

I'm neither pro, nor anti.
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

Publish or be duped. Mostly a year or more of one's life writing a book gives some idea of committment. Any publishing cost is effectively controlled by the advance they give or the backing thereafter. In other words they can reduce the advance/backing if they need to, to cover any theoretical author contribution.
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

If they're charging, either the publisher isn't good enough or the book isn't good enough. That's why most writers have enough rejection slips to paper the living-room.
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

I thought of 'publish and be doped', but couldn't come up with a decent meaning...

So, what seems to be the thread so far is if the writer is good enough, he'll be picked up and receive remuneration. According to other threads, if he's good, but unrecognised then he can self publish and may achieve reimbursement. However, a halfway house in the form of a contribution shows the publisher is up to something or the writer is a dud. Is it really that clear cut?
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

I think at 2,700 pounds then they're up to something.

I can't see the point in asking an author for 300 to 500 pounds, that amount of money is controlled by how much they pay you or back the book.

I have a suspicion that the clean ends of the market are self-publishing or the publisher paying the lot.

John Jarrold (a regular contributor here) and Teresa Edgerton will know for sure.
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Old 13th March 2008, 12:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

At the time, I was a little more direct about 2,700! But, I don't know about a small contribution, especially if it's a small publisher. In this case, however, it was quite a well known publisher, so I was very surprised!

However, in the ramble I started with, I wondered whether it was wiser to hold out for an agent or to go with a publisher that may be quite unknown.
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Old 13th March 2008, 01:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

The job of a reputable publisher is to make money from the books they publish, not from the authors of those books.

If a book can't cover its costs, why should anyone publish it? The "small contribution" is neither here nor there. There are no exceptions to Yog's law. (The amount of money flowing, however, is another matter.)
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Old 13th March 2008, 01:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

Unfortunately, I'm being tempted away by the discussion of Yog's law!

Yes, the publisher should make money from the books, but given the risk, should a publisher seek to share the costs, at least to some degree? Can publishers afford to take all the risk? The big ones maybe, but what about smaller publishers?

I'm just an aspiring author, and in a moment of bitter self-pity, have to confess I'm having damn all luck at it after a number of years. However, I also believe that, in the main, publishers are trying to make a decent business of things.

Last edited by Montague; 13th March 2008 at 01:22 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 13th March 2008, 01:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

The risk is that the book the publisher takes on won't sell enough copies to cover their costs. The "small contribution" is neither here nor there if there is no prospect of sales; if there is a decent prospect, what's the money for? (It doesn't sound to me as if it's a reverse advance, i.e. a loan.)
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Old 13th March 2008, 01:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

Precisely, so is it not reasonable for a publisher to ask the author to cover some of the risks? I'm suggesting some, not a whacking great big amount.
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Old 13th March 2008, 01:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

If a publisher needs a loan to cover their operating expenses, there are banks.
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Old 13th March 2008, 01:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

If your aim is just to have a book with your name on that you can show to friends (and if that's what you want, then there's no shame in it)... go and spend money. But go to somewhere like Lulu.com or some PoD company and self-publish. At least you know there that the money you pay is being spent on production costs, and you'll pay per book.

But, if you want to be published because you feel your work is good enough to warrant it, then don't spend any more money than your costs for photocopying and mailing out your manuscript. Otherwise, it's a hollow meaningless victory.

I think we all would like our ego stroked and to be told we're great writers, but you know... I'd rather be told the truth and suffer the bitter disappointment that my writing isn't just good enough than pay someone under the pretense of sharing the costs.
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Old 13th March 2008, 02:00 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Publish and be dumbed?

What was the name of this well known publisher?
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