Simmelink. talked about the Business of Writing.
He said there are two sides of the writer’s
life. Madison Avenue shows us the writer at a desk,
making millions from the writing. The other side,
the business side, is rarely mentioned.
Here are some key tips:
1. You Query Letter is a key. Most publishers and
agents don’t want unsolicited manuscripts so
the query letter is a way to make your solicited.
It should contain: What your story is about; technical
details such as genre and length; your credentials;
and a hook to capture the reader. One page should
be the maximum length as they don’t have time
to read more. Agents and publishers receiver 10,000
queries a year so make yours stand out.
2. Agents should be members of the Association of
Authors. They will charge 15% for US sales and 20%
overseas. There should be no other fees such as reading
fees etc. Online searches can provide the info you
need about the agent such as recent sales, genres,
publishers worked with etc. If they are not willing
to share this information, then you won’t be
comfortable with them.
3. Contracts and rights are important. You want to
retain as many rights as possible for later resale
and only give the rights needed for the current project,
whether that be an article or book. Some of the rights
are 1st North American Serial rights (magazines),
anthology rights, electronic rights, subsidiary (paperback,
movies), archival. It’s best to keep most and
give these out as paid for them. George Lucas sold
the movie rights to Star Wars but kept the character
rights by foregoing a small payment but now has made
millions from licensing the characters.
4. Numbers and publishers. Publishers will print about
twice as many books as they anticipate selling. The
author’s money is held against returns from
stores. Even advances are paid out piecemeal as stages
from editing to publishing take place. Most selling
activities and many of the expenses are done by the
authors. Book signings, publicity and other activities
should be part of the author’s marketing plan
that the publisher will want to see. You will need
to use email, family members, phone calls to get the
word out on your book. Publishers won’t spend
money on these activities unless you are one of a
few big names. 90% of books don’t make a profit.
Money issues with publishers should be negotiated
by your agent.
5. Marketing. You need a marketing package consisting
of the Query letters, outlines, synopses of varying
lengths, you marketing plan – who is your target
audience and how you will reach them. Also needed
are good photos, letterhead and stationary, reviews,
credits, who you competition is and why your work
is better and different. Name of contacts who will
help you. You also need goals, strategies and tactics
and a concise and consistent message about yourself
and your work. You are always selling yourself and
your next work. These tasks are not easy for the writer
who sits in a room and writes but to make money as
a writer, promotion is important. All these activities
are part of professionalism and presenting yourself
as a professional.