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Publishers…What’s in Your Wallet?

Traditional Publishers used to own the whole game. Indie authors, like you and me, spent most of our time chasing an agent so we could chase a publisher.  Back in the day, ‘self-publishing‘ was a dirty word. You were putting out a ‘vanity book’. You were looked down upon. 

This post is about three categories of Publishers in today’s writing world:

  1. Traditional Publisher: Who, for the most part do not accept ‘unsolicited manuscripts’. By that they mean that you have to have a literary agent representing your work and hawking it to the publishers. Don’t get me wrong, there is a small percentage of writers out there that are able to get an agent and ultimately a publisher. They pay on a royalty only basis. If you are very good and very lucky the publisher will pay you an advance to support you while your writing the book. 

2. The Publisher who asks the author to ‘invest’ in their own book : In my opinion (and it’s only my opinion), AVOID these. For the most part, these are internet publishers who expect you to pay them to publisher your book. You pay them at the front end and then if your book sells they get a percentage at the backend.  They don’t do much in the way of marketing your book, outside their own website, and it ends up still being a crapshoot for the author. There is no team of editors, publicists, and publisher that you can only get with a traditional publisher. 

3. You, the Publisher: Indie-publishing is, today, a respected and practical way for you to publish. There are many platforms out there that you can go on, for FREE, and build your book with the end result being that your book appears on all the major book store websites and can be ordered in a ‘stick and mortar’ bookstore. But as an indie-author you have to be your own team: marketing, editing, and publishing. You can hire out the first two services but it gets spendy. You get paid (usually) around 60% royalty for each book sold. 

  I know, through my interviews with best-selling authors (and friendships that have developed out of those), many best selling authors’ new books are rejected by their publisher, not because the writing is bad, but because the book doesn’t fit with their idea of what’s ‘hot’ right now. You see, it’s all about the $$$$. These best selling authors go right out and self-publish the rejected book. 

Get off the hamster wheel of trying to get a publisher to look at your book, trying to get an agent to sign you so a publisher will look at your work. Trying to get an agent to sign you…being rejected by the publisher because you don’t have an agent, trying to get an agent to sign you so a publisher will look at your work…well, you get the idea. Fine, chase the agent/publisher but while you’re doing that, publish your own work. Don’t let anyone stop you. Go for it!  Yes, you can self-publish while you are waiting around the for coveted agent/publisher gig!

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker 
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So how Do You Avoid Ending up in the Slush Pile?

In part one of this expose’ (Blog February 26th)  I talked about insider facts of the publishing housespublishers, writers, authors,

Now for the solution:

Five years ago if you had decided that whatever it took, your book must be shared with the world you were looking at a $15,000 to $30,000 investment in printing, storage, and marketing.  Then it was up to you to schlep your books from city to city, state to state because there was no one else to do it.  And most times because this would be a gargantuan task, your books would, for the most part, expire in a storage unit somewhere.

As an example, I wrote a stage play (documentary) back in 1996.  I tried everything to get “Cook County Justice”  published.  IT WAS IMPORTANT!  The true story of a man, at age seventeen, falsely accused of murder and sent to prison for life.  When I began the story/script he had been in prison 45+ years.  A model inmate, and even with the sentence of life with possibility of parole as part of the deal, they would not let innocent men, felons, prison,injustice,freedom,self publishing,him go.

Admittedly there are things wrong with my script….starting with a cast of fourteen men.  Where are you going to be able to cast fourteen men in a play.  My fellow directors and producers are silently laughing  at me right now.  But, surprisingly it has been produced a few times to rave reviews.

So this play has languished for twelve years until self-publishing and ‘print on demand’ came in to being. (more about that later ).

Another story that had to be told was of the women who lead normal lives; married, employed and raising children.  Until that day when their oh-so-normal husbands take a wrong turn.  It might be a disagreement over a football game at the local sports bar that turns deadly.  Or driving a family member to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes.  Or wrong time, wrong place where there are drugs present.  It happens to decent men every day.

I was compelled to write about these women. Many years ago I wrote a full length play about this; women who find their lives torn apart when their husbands are sent to prison.  For those of you who don’t know the restrictions of play writing:  the writer must crammed the story into 100 pages; have one or two set changes, and a manageable sized cast.   Over the years people had begged me to tell the rest of their stories; a novel would have none of these time or place restraints.

And that is how “Women women's fiction, prison, love, family, writing,Outside the Walls” was created.  No traditional publishing house would touch it and those that would accept an unsolicited submission immediately plopped it in their ‘slush pile’.   I have a three-inch thick folder of ‘rejection‘ letters to prove it.

Not so many years ago the term ‘self-published’ was a dirty word.  They were called ‘vanity books’; published by the author because they weren’t good enough for a real publisher to accept.

That has all changed!  ‘Self-publishing’ has become so respectable that the publishing houses are actually considering offering an independent publishing option within their companies.

With most Self-Publishing Platforms you are also given DISTRIBUTION.  This, of course, is almost as important as your book being published.  My books and scripts are on amazon.com around the world.  They are sold at Barnes & Noble and on all the on-line sites selling books.

My books are in local book stores and my friends at Drama Book Shop in New York carry most of my scripts.
This has been such a successful solution for me that I no longer pursue a traditional publisher for my books and scripts.
PS.  Hey!  What about a literary agent, Trish? 
Can’t they get you published?  The answer is ‘yes’.  But for 16 years I have tried to get an agent to represent me.  If you’re not published, no agent, if you don’t have an agent, no publisher.  I got off that merry-go-round. …..I’m just saying…
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS.  The NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other  best-selling AUTHORS!

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month .  I have invited such luminaries as:  Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Mark Childress, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen,Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Deaver and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”.  You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ .  Thanks!

Color me naive…an Expose` of the Publishing Industry (part 1)

books, authors, book stores, women writers,Call me naive…but I honestly thought that publishing houses chose manuscripts based on the quality of the writing and then book sales would take care of itself.  Au’ contraire.  I just finished reading an expose` of the publishing industry and it rocked me to my toes.publishers, writers, authors,

First, you know that book you can buy that lists the publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts?  Detailing which genre’ they are looking for, and what age group they represent?   And the publishing houses that hype the public (writers) that they are actually looking for unsolicited books?  (translation:  ‘unsolicited’ = ‘crap’).  Well, that’s exactly what it is, hype and not true.

Your manuscript ends up in a ‘slush pile’ and the publisher has a whole storage room  for these manuscripts.  NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN!  No miracles, no happy accidents, no chance of even an editor’s assistant reading your work.

Okay, but say a miracle happens and someone reads your book and likes it.  I’m certain that it happens. But the process that a manuscript goes through and the likelihood of your manuscript making it to the store is phenomenalwriters, authors, publishers!

Let’s say that an ambitious editor’s assistant’s assistant is told to take a stack of manuscripts to the ‘slush pile room’. Leafing through the top one, as she rides the elevator, something catches her eye and she decides to read on. She tucks it in her briefcase for reading over the weekend.  She comes in Monday morning and during a coffee break shares her enthusiasm with the editor’s assistant.

The assistant agrees to read it ‘when she has time’.  Months go by and now she has read it and thinks it’s worth taking it to her editor.  Said editor is buried in work, with the authors that she has been assigned, but she doesn’t want to discourage her young, bright-eyed assistant, so she agrees to read it ‘when she has time’.  Months go by….you see where I’m going with this.

Okay, the editor liked your book enough to take it to the monthly editorial meeting.   Each editor must ‘pitch’ the new books that they are excited about to the other editors and (probably) an associate publisher.    They have to ‘sell’ even known authors at these meetings so you can imagine how difficult it is to ‘pitch’ an unknown author like you and I. The book makes it through this meeting.  Now comes the bi-yearly sales meeting,  attended by not only the editors but  the publisher and associate publishers. Also, and most importantly, the  sales reps, who will in turn try to ‘sell’ the book to their accounts. (book stores and retailers).

authors, writers, publishers, I will forever be grateful to my publishing house (Samuel French, Inc.) for having faith in the  plays that they chose to publish. But what about the other 40 scripts that I have written? The ones that they passed on? Are they just not good enough? Are they terrible? Too politically incorrect? Too dark? Too light? Too….something??  NO!   They just didn’t fit what the publisher believed would make money! I asked my editor about this and he made a very profound statement: “Trish, there is only so much ‘real estate’ in our catalog.”

Knowing what I now know about publishing, I did indeed experience a miracle with French. They picked me up, an unknown playwright, and published four of my scripts. See?….miracles do happen!  But don’t sit around waiting for yours! Take action!

See Part II and the solution in today’s publishing world coming on  February 28th.
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS.  The NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other  best-selling AUTHORS!

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month .  I have invited such luminaries as:  Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Mark Childress, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Walter Mosley, Natasha Solomons, Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Deaver and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”.  You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ .  Thanks!