One of the biggest mistakes young writers make is getting into a terrible contract they can never leave. More than one person has sent me a contract in which they signed away the rights to their book for less than it cost them to make the book in the first place. Imagine that. You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into a book.
You were so excited to finally be able to get the book out there…and in doing so signed away the rights to the publishing company. This actually happened to somebody I know. I would much rather have you self-publish your book and reap all the profits. However, since many of you want a publisher the least I can do is give you some tips on what to look for in a contract. Before I get started I want to emphasize this:. This is advice from somebody who has dealt with a lot of contracts, but I always consult with a lawyer before signing a contract, or before sending out a contract for signature.
If you decide not to hire a lawyer, that is on you, not me. Now we can get on with the good stuff. There is a big difference between gross receipts and net profits. Net profits mean the remainder left after the publisher has taken out all expenses. The publisher gets to recoup their printing costs, marketing costs, distribution costs, editing costs, and just about any cost imaginable before you see any money.
Net profits is a bad deal for creators. If you must take a net profit deal, make sure it is accompanied by an upfront payment equal to or greater than the cost it took to make the book because otherwise, you will never see a dime.
How to Self-Publish a Book: 7 Simple Steps to Success
Publishers are very good at manipulating the accounting so that every book looks like it loses money on paper. Gross receipts, which is what Wannabe Press and most traditional book publishers give, is what you want. Gross receipts come off the top of the amount made. Even better than gross receipts is a percentage of cover price. That means no matter what the publisher sells the book for, you get the same amount. It is uncommon to get this deal nowadays, but if you can get it then the accounting becomes very easy.
You check the units sold and simply multiply by whatever percentage you agreed upon in the contract. Many publishers will put something like this in a contract. In this scenario, the publisher owns the book. That means they can sell the book to other companies and make changes to the book without your permission. Most publishing deals should last years maximum, and then you will get the right back, at which time you can look for another publisher. However, if you sign over IP rights, which is the rights to the underlying intellectual property, then your publisher will own a piece of that project FOREVER, even if you take it to another publisher.
A publisher should only be interested in publishing rights to a project, not intellectual property rights.
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This is becoming rarer as publishers start to see the value of IP, but a publisher should be able to make a profit and stay in business from book sales alone. If they insist on some ownership, tell them that if they bring a deal to the table, then they can be compensated as a producer would on a movie project. However, the underlying IP rests solely with you.
A good barometer is 25 books per month over a three-month window. If your publisher does not sell that many copies over EACH quarter, then the book is considered out of print and the rights immediately revert back to you. Getting a book onto a publishing slate is hard work.
The REAL Costs of Self-Publishing — Honoree Corder
However, if a publisher sits on a book for more than 18 months they never intend to publish it and you should be able to get the rights back. Finally, you want to make sure that no matter what all rights revert back to you after a specific time, hopefully within years. After that time, a publisher can sell any remaining copies in their warehouse, but you are allowed to again shop around the book. This means that when the book reverts back to you, the existing publisher would have to bid to keep the rights as well, allowing you to make more money on the book than if the original publisher held onto it forever.
Publishers are sneaky fuckers, and they love to slip shit in that will fuck you as an author. The non-compete clause is the perfect example. A non-compete clause is meant to cover a publisher and make sure that you are not directly competing with their book by putting out your own book, or putting out a book with a competing publisher. Now, this is pretty widely understood to be illegal and unenforceable, but do you really want to go to court and roll the dice?
No, of course not. So look carefully at your non-compete clause.
In this post, Reedsy will share a common-sense, jargon-free approach to ascending the heights of the self-publishing world. Since the advent of the Gutenberg press in the 15th century, many authors have bankrolled the publishing of their books. In the 20th century, authors could successfully self-publish to small markets they had access to think church organizations or industry conferences. Today, anybody with an internet connection can write an ebook and make it available to hundreds of millions of readers — pretty much for free. The new challenge is to make these books bestsellers without the marketing might of a HarperCollins behind them — which many writers have managed to do.
But what defines success in publishing? There are many benefits that draw authors to self publishing. Without having to go through the traditional gatekeepers of the publishing world, you will find:. Enter your email below and then select 'Publishing: Self-publishing vs Traditional publishing' in the drop-down menu of the next popup.
There are few if any people who can do all of this well, as many parts of the publishing process are usually overseen by professionals with years of experience in the field. Assisted: Self-publishers can choose to work with freelance editors, proofreaders, designers, and marketers on their book. Because they tend to work with limited budgets, prudent independent authors will learn and do as much as they can by themselves before bringing in the pros to take care of everything outside their expertise.
Learn more about how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book. In this section, we'll give you the whistle-stop tour. We'll show you what we believe to be the simplest method for publishing a book independently, while also providing you with the resources to learn more if you want. An author with an advance, an agent and a regular editor will have a support team in place that helps guide the first draft. But, by and large, the process of writing a manuscript is the same for any author: with a little planning, discipline, and know-how, a new author can work their way from the first chapter to the final page.
When you're writing a non-fiction book that's either a how-to book, or a title that aims to solve a readers problem, the planning might include:.
More independent non-fiction authors have recently found it a useful to create one as well — to ensure that their book delivers on its promises. To get a sample template, check out this guide to writing a book proposal. While also based on true events, memoirs require a slightly different approach to non-fiction books. In the preparation phase, most fiction writers will lay some groundwork and develop the world of their novel, sketch out their characters, and map the plot. To learn more about planning a novel, check out these articles:.
Finding the time to write is an enormous challenge for authors — especially those who have to balance a full-time job and family obligations. Whatever you need to get that routine started, make sure you do it. If it means not treating yourself to a muffin until you've written 3, words in a week — do it. If you need to schedule every single hour of the day to ensure you can steal enough time throughout the week to build momentum, then make it so. Writing a book is like developing any other skill: it requires time, effort, and a willingness to learn.
In this section, we offer our recommended approach to editing your book for self publishing. Here are a few resources to help you revise and self-edit your manuscript:. These days, finding your ideal editor is more straightforward than ever. For example, on the Reedsy Marketplace , you can search for and request quotes from professionals with experience in your genre. When we talk about book design, the first thing that jumps to mind is the cover, which is crucial. After all, self published authors rely heavily on a cover to sell the book, whether it's with ads or just by attracting readers on retailers like the Kindle store.
Here are a couple of great resources to help you wrap your head around making a beautiful, readable book:. That takes us to the next stage.
In days past, self-publishing a book would involve getting a print run, which involves paying up-front for thousands of copies. Understandably, you risk ending up with copies that you struggle to sell. Thankfully, modern publishing has provided simple solutions to this problem. If you're looking for the simplest solution, here it is: just publish your book with KDP. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing is an author platform that lets you upload your book and list it for free.
Readers can then buy the ebook or have a print version created for them at the click of a mouse. No need to understand how the sausage is made: Amazon has simplified the process. However, if you want to dig a bit deeper and explore your options, carry on reading With POD Print on Demand , authors can upload their book files to a printing service, which will churn out individual copies as, and when, they are purchased.
The cost-per-unit is higher than with traditional printing methods, but the lack of risk makes this the preferred option of self-publishing authors.
Make sure the publishing company cannot assign the rights to your book without your approval
Read post. For an IngramSpark promo code, read our IngramSpark review here. Also, once the book is on an e-reader, the quality of the product is virtually indistinguishable from something that a big publisher puts out.