Monday, January 30, 2023

Two Paths to Getting Your Books Out There

 Q: Now that 2022 is well and truly "in the books" (!) did you learn any business tips you can pass on?

-from Susan


Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned more than I’d known about book contracts and the role of agents. If you’re going the traditional publishing route, I think having an agent to present your manuscript is a great benefit. Then, having her or him negotiate for you is great. I say that knowing 1. how hard it is to get an agent in the first place; and 2. that not all agents have the same experience, skills, and determination to go to bat for you before you sign a contract.


What my agent showed me in the last couple of years is, no, you don’t have to settle for the initial offer. Your agent can – and really should – listen to what’s most important to you and then be in direct communication with the publisher regarding the amount of the advance, how royalties will be calculated, and what ancillary rights will be yours or theirs. For audio books, I found out the author can almost always negotiate the right to audition and approve voice actors. She made that happen for me.


The second best thing about having an agent is not having to deal with the awkwardness of saying out loud what you want and hearing silence and worrying you’ve just lost the deal entirely. The best thing is having an agent who loves your work and will go out and fight for you. 


So that’s what I’ve learned from the traditional publishing route. Now to self-publishing.


I’ve gotten the rights back to my first series from the generous previous publishers who didn’t insist I pay anything, and am in the midst of getting an entire new edition of the Dani O’Rourke series ready for e-book and POD sales. I chose to start with an entirely new graphic marketing strategy. My art director is Brian Shea, my son and an active, successful book designer. I chose not to have clip art or cartoon style illustrations and the illustrator he hired is giving the Dani O’Rourke covers a fresh, unexpected look that, along with the marketing I have to do, may pick up new readers, younger readers who are more Dani’s age than mine. Cover reveals to come.


It's more expensive to go this route, with custom illustrations and an art director but I’ve learned that doing anything well, when selling is your goal, does cost at least some money. For me, not having to learn a lot of new systems and do all the work while working on other manuscript projects is the right call. I hope other Minds, especially Cathy Ace, who has practically her own publishing empire, is going to share some of her tips. I’ll be reading her post this week!


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