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Insights Into Publishing

I have published 6 books with 4 different publishers and am currently writing my 7th book that will be available in August of 2013 (more on that later).  Although my experience is not as vast as some others,  I have learned a few things about the publishing world.  Some I don't like while others I don't mind so much.  Some things I've learned the hard way and some prior to getting bitten.

But regardless of how I feel, I think by far the majority of people don't have a clue about how publishing actually works.  And I think, with some basic knowledge, people would go about writing or purchasing books differently.  Much differently.

I frequently get emails, Facebook messages, DM's via Twitter, Google+ messages, etc from people who are writing or have written a book they desire to get published.   Most of these inquiries are about how to go about pursuing a publisher.  But I've also helped a number of people negotiate terms with publishers from the background.  In other words, I've given the advice an agent might give, without the fees of an agent.  A lot of times authors receive an offer from a publisher and they are so excited about "getting published"that they don't realize what it all really means.

And, like it or not, publishers don't necessarily want you to be educated on all the nuances.  They certainly never offer any advice to authors about the contract offers they give.  That's for sure.

Most of the time authors are shocked with my responses to their inquiries because they are operating off an ideal that just isn't reality.  And I've found that when I articulate what they are up against, their dreams are altered.  Not crushed, just altered.

I don't mean all that to sound as bad as it may have come across.  The truth is publsihers aren't crooks out to get people (well, most of them aren't).  But the fact is there is a lot about the publishing world that most readers and authors don't understand.  But they should understand more than they do.  It would change things.  Drastically.

For instances, I believe if people knew where all the money actually goes when they purchased a book, they would go about buying books differently.

I think if writers understood the financial premise publishers operate from, they would change their approach to publishing.  Or, if not entirely change their approach, at least they would navigate their relationship with publishers differently.  I also think if the average reader understood this financial premise, they would purchase books differently than they do.

I believe if readers realized how little the author benefits financially or how much the publisher relies on the authors to sell the books, they would buy books differently.  Most people think selling the books is what publishers are supposed to do on behalf of the author.  Well, that couldn't be more wrong.

If people realized that the bulk of the money in publishing isn't made by the publisher OR the author they would purchase books, in whatever format, from different places than they tend to.

If people understood how the industry ACTUALLY works, I think publishing would change forever.

The bottom line is the publishing world, for the most part, is turned upside down and it operates entirely differently than most think it does.  It's very core is fundamentally different than ever before and nobody actually knows where it's heading.  But there are some things that still ring true...and I believe people should have more information than they currently do.

I believe people want to know more.  When I share some of the things I've learned with my friends or people I meet on airplanes, they are fascinated.  And usually, if not in every case, people change the way they purchase books.  Now, I'm not claiming to some sort of whistle blower here nor am I claiming to be the only person to unveil some secret "handshakes" of the publishing world.  I am simply saying there are some things I think people should and would want to know about publishing.  So, this blog series is going to be about explaining how the industry actually works and some things I've learned.  I'm planning on writing on at least the following topics (not in any particular order):

  1. Where does the money actually go when you buy a book?  I think most people will be very surprised once they realize how it all works.
  2. The "smart business" practices of distributors like Amazon and the negative effects they have on the entire publishing world.
  3. Contractual elements most authors have no idea about and readers should realize.  There are aspects to the contracts that nobody explains when authors are signing a contract.  But if readers and authors knew about them, it would certainly cause thought about how you purchase books and where you purchase them from.
  4. The process of actually getting published.  I will talk about a few things pursuing authors need to realize and embrace about the publishing world.  I also think readers ought to know this as well as it may cause you to rethink how you purchase books.
  5. The differences and similarities of publishers of Christian books versus others genres.  They are very different in ways and yet, unfortunately, very similar.

My desire in this series is to be informative versus bashing anyone or any one part of this industry.  I'm a part of it and I actually enjoy it.  Having said that, I do think some information is important for people to have so they can make more informed decisions about how/where/why they purchase books and/or pursue getting one published.

I think the next post will be about where the money you spend on books actually goes...


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