Posts Tagged 'royalties'

Everyone has an Agenda

Have you ever noticed how there are two sides to every issue? The decision to royalty publish or pay-to-publish is no different.

You’ll find royalty publishing advocates who assert you aren’t “really” published if you pay to publish. They say you need an outside party to deem your work worthy of purchase (yes, you are selling your intellectual property, so  no longer own your own writing when you royalty publish).

I don’t disagree that you should have some third party (writers group or volunteer readers qualify) honestly tell you about the quality of your writing, but too often the criteria royalty publishers use to determine whether or not someone should be published is how much money the author can make for the publisher rather than the quality of writing. That’s why the two primary questions royalty publishers ask are (1) What will you do to sell this book? and (2) What is your platform (meaning how well known are you)?

If selling your intellectual property and doing the marketing to earn about 7 percent of the net (which is typically 25 to 35 cents per book SOLD) works for you, I’m all for it for you.

Authors who pay to publish (whether that’s self, subsidy, or equity) invest in themselves and, depending on the choices they make, keep all the profits from sales or share some of the profits with the publisher or get minimal “royalties” back when they sell books they’ve already paid to publish.

A book is self-published when the author actually owns the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) since ISBNs are issued to publishers. Expert Publishing owns its ISBNs, thus our authors are not self-published and we don’t represent that they are.

With so many publishing options, books are flooding the marketplace as never before. The biggest challenge an author has today is not getting published–it’s in attracting readers. Authors have to do more than ever to get noticed by readers and sell books. And that goes for all publishing options because, frankly, most readers don’t pay attention to how a book is published as much as how clearly it is written, how professionally it is designed, and how easy it is to get.

As you plow through the publishing options available to you, be mindful that everyone has an agenda. Royalty publishers dislike self-publishing. Pay-to-publish publishers dislike royalty publishers. I think there’s room for both and publishing is a business decision each author must make individually. Just remember to do your own thinking because everyone–even you–has an agenda. Stay mindful of that and you’ll make a better publishing decision.

Happy writing!




Do You Really Want to Sell Your Book in Bookstores?

Ask anyone who’s been in the book publishing business very long that question and you’ll get a “Yes–and–No” answer. The yes because you want your book available to sell in bookstores (whether online or brick and mortar), and no, you don’t really want to sell your book there.

Huh? Some people only buy books from bookstores, so you want to be available for purchase there. But the ugly truth is bookstores are a consignment business. They don’t buy the book from you until the customer buys it from them.

Here’s how it works. Your bookstore shelves your book, but only if the store  buyer is convinced you’ll drive traffic to that store to buy the book. If you’re an author with a platform (read famous), that’s not a problem. Or, if you’re an author with an established fan base, that’s not a problem. For 98 percent of the authors, however, neither is the case.

If you do convince a store to shelve your book, the book sits there until purchased or returned for full credit (often a book is only given a handful of weeks or it’s returned). If purchased, the bookstore gets the money, cash manages the money for 30 days or so, then pays the distributor. The distributor cash manages the money for 30 days or so, then pays the publisher. Thus, even if a book sells immediately upon hitting the bookstore, it’s entirely possible you’ll wait 90 days or more for your share of the sale.

What is your share of the sale? After the bookseller and the distributor take their cuts, anywhere between 30 and 45 percent is left for the publisher. The publisher pays the cost of publishing, the cost of shipping and handling, and the overhead costs out of those leftovers. Of course, if you’re royalty published, you’re a cost to the publisher too.

Let’s say your royalty is 5 percent of net. If you crunch the numbers above, you’ll see a publisher needs to keep the cost per book at around 40 percent to break even–that’s $4.00 on a $10.00 book. So, your 5 percent is based on $4.00, which is a whopping 20 cents per book sold. However, if you have a literary agent who typically gets 15 percent of your earnings, you don’t get 20 cents per book. You get 20 cents minus 15 percent, or a net 17 cents per book sold. Royalties aren’t figured on review copies, promotional copies given away, etc.

Before you get all excited about selling your book in bookstores, do the math. You may find you do better selling in other types of venues. At least consider your options.

Happy writing!


What’s the difference between music and books?

I attended an event last week, and the program included a singer/songwriter who used to record in Nashville but has decided to pay to record his own stuff rather than go through an old-fashioned record label. Why? He wasn’t getting any marketing help from the record company in Nashville, and his small royalties were paid annually. He discovered he could pay to record himself, market himself, make direct sales himself, and make more money faster.

People come to his website and use his shopping cart to download his songs and cha-ching! He sold a lot of CDs that night and didn’t have to share any of the receipts with anyone else.

Many musicians are going this route and no one seems to be bashing them for it.

Yet, when authors decide to pay to be published, the old-fashioned purists come out in droves bashing both the author and publisher. So, what’s the difference? Why the double standard?

I think it’s because there have been so many publishers who chase the author’s dollar without providing the author with a quality book. They provide publishing packages that seldom include editing, original designs (they use templates), or much else except the requisite ISBN, LOC registration, etc.

They charge the author to publish, but use print-on-demand technology so there aren’t any printed books available unless someone pays to have one or two printed. That means these publishers don’t provide the author any inventory to enable the author to sell the books and keep the profits from the direct sales (as the singer/songwriter did last week). NOTE: The cost of the package is over and above the cost of the printing, so the first book doesn’t cost just the printing fee of $5.00–it cost the price of the package PLUS $5.00!

Many publishers require all book orders come through them so they can keep charging the author, then  “pay royalties” back to the author on money the author continues to spend with them to have their books printed.

Small wonder paying to be published gets such a bad rap.

We at Expert Publishing, Inc. believe if an author pays to have a book published, the author should have the inventory of the books so he/she can sell them and make all the profit from direct sales. We also believe that since our name is on the book too, it needs to be a quality book that we’re just as proud of as the author is. It’s a simple concept, and it’s been working since 2001.

Happy writing!


Why Are You Writing Your Book?

I participated in a teleseminar a couple of weeks ago and one of the topics covered was the reason people write books.

Reasons listed were:

  • To gain credibility
  • To attract more clients/business
  • To create additional income (new revenue stream)
  • To share information people can use
  • To fulfill a dream

All of these are valid reasons, but the last one (to fulfill a dream) is the one that most puppy mill presses/subsidy presses/vanity presses zero in on. They’ll happily take your money and make publishing with them sound like a dream come true. In reality, you may be walking into a nightmare.

Some of these publishers offer levels of packages (labeled by precious metals or jewels or some other delineator). Be sure you examine each package.

  • Do you get original designs you can keep or just templates that belong to the publisher?
  • Do you get editing or does that cost extra?
  • Do you get proofreading or does that cost extra?
  • How many copies of your book do you get for the hundreds of dollars you’re spending up front?
  • Where do orders for your book go? If they’re required to go to the publisher, do you pay extra for that service?
  • Do you pay for the printing of your book when the books are ordered (print on demand), only to have the publisher pay you a kickback (disguised as a royalty)? If so, what are the chances that royalty was jacked up into the printing price in the first place so you’re simply getting your money back?
  • Does the publisher keep a percentage of every book you pay to have printed when you order it? If so, why since the printing is probably already marked up to include profit? And, is that percentage paid in addition to order fulfillment fees?

Do your due diligence and really think through your publishing options. Why are you writing your book? If you simply want to fulfill a dream of being published, any publisher will do.

But if you’re writing your book for any of the other reasons listed, you want to make sure your publisher does quality work that follows the conventions of book publishing. You can do it yourself  if you’ve got the time  to find good book designers, good book printers, etc., but for most authors who are writing their books to gain business and credibility, that isn’t the best use of their time.

Why are you writing your book? When you know the answer to that, you can find the right publishing option for you.

Happy writing!

You Can’t Get Published Unless You Write

Too often writers lament how hard it is to get published. That’s old thinking. You have more options for getting published today than ever before in history.

The real issue is too many writers think they should be paid for what they write. They’re right, of course, but they’re also short-sighted on the form the payment takes.

If you self-publish, your payment comes later–when you sell books. Your payment is larger than if you royalty publish because no one takes a cut. Yes, you invest in yourself up front, but the reward is much bigger overall.

If you royalty publish, your payment comes later–after the publisher and agent each take their cut, you typically get 5 to 10 percent of what’s left over. Often royalties run 25 cents to 40 cents per book sold (not given away or reviewed or returned for credit). Royalty checks are issued semi-annually or annually, depending on the publisher. If your book isn’t a financial success within a few weeks, you’re tagged as a loser and you probably won’t be royalty published again.

If you puppy mill press publish, your payment comes later–after the publisher takes its cut (you typically have to place all orders for your book with the puppy mill press to assure it gets its cut). Then the press claims to pay you a “royalty” on the book you’ve already paid for in the first place.

If you equity publish, your payment comes as quickly as you can sell books or get hired to speak, to consult, or to do other work  because you’re the expert. Again, your payment is higher because no one takes a cut. You also avoid the stigma attached to self-publishing because you don’t own the publishing company and you don’t have the steep learning curve on what it takes to publish a quality book. Instead, your book meets the quality requirements of the equity publisher.

No matter which way you decide to go, you won’t get published unless you’ve written your book, however. Make writing a top priority if you’re serious about getting published.

Be sure you look at all your publishing options before making a decision on which way to publish. Be aware of the pitfalls of puppy mill presses. Understand how royalty publishing works. Educate yourself. Book publishing is business, not dream fulfillment.

Happy writing!

How NOT to Approach a Publisher

Most of the time new authors approach our publishing company via email asking what we’d like to see from them. They’ve been to our website,, and they’ve made a decision to submit their work to us for consideration. We offer feedback on the first chapter of their manuscript at no charge so we can see if their book is something we want our name as publisher associated with, and they can see if they like the way we edit. It’s a win-win.

This week the phone rang and I answered it and young man asked, “Do you publish books?” Although I was thinking “DUH,” I responded in the affirmative and asked him what his book is about.

He responded that he’s a very talented writer and that he writes everything but right now he’s looking to get his novel published.  He continued, “Are you a sales publisher?”

I told him we were an equity publisher and that  I wasn’t familiar with the term sales publisher. I asked what he  meant.

“I mean, do you pay writers, ‘cuz I don’t wanna pay nobody. My stuff’s too good and I’m gonna make millions on my book.”

You can probably see where this is going. I get a couple of these calls every week. Authors imagine themselves as the next Stephen King, Joel Osteen, J.K. Rowling, etc. They’ve heard about the success of these authors’ books and believe they can do it too. Well, they can, but they’ll have to work harder than they ever imagined to make it happen.

Back to the phone call.

I told the budding author that he could indeed sell his novel to a publisher, but he’d most likely need a literary agent to do it. Since literary agents don’t make money unless they sell an author’s work, getting a good agent to represent you is almost harder than finding a publisher. One of the best ways to get an agent is to have another author connect you to his/her agent.

I asked him, “What are you doing to connect with other authors? Do you go to writers conferences? Do you belong to a writers group?”

He sounded a bit deflated and in a low voice said no.

I suggested he get the latest Writers Market and look for publishers who accept unagented fiction submissions.

He had an old Writers Market and thought he’d use that. I suggested he get a current one, but left that up to him.

He thanked me and the conversation was over.

What was wrong with how he approached this publisher?

  • He hadn’t done his homework regarding the publisher.
  • He didn’t have the basic terms mastered (sales publisher versus royalty publisher).
  • He hadn’t researched the book publishing business to see how it works.
  • He used bad grammar.
  • He wasn’t current in his research regarding customers (aka publishers) he was trying to sell his writing to.
  • He wasn’t connected to a writing community in any way.

I could go on, but you get the idea. When you decide to approach a publisher, make sure you’ve done your homework about the publisher and what they publish. Know (or connect with them to find out) what they want to see. Submit your proposal according to their instructions so you don’t give them an immediate reason to discard your submission. Publishers are bombarded with submissions, so don’t make it easy for them to say no to you.

Happy writing!

Sorting Through the Book Publishing Maze

I received an email from a puppy-mill Internet publisher this morning trying to interest me in publishing with them.

Granted, puppy-mill publisher isn’t an official book publishing industry term, but it’s my term for those publishers who publish just about anything sent into them.

They like to sell the dream of being published (rather than the business it really is), and they start out with low prices that include

  • someone who will talk with you about your project (aka one-on-one author support or representative)
  • a discount on books you purchase from them
  • a book cover (I wonder if you know most covers from puppy-mill publishers are template and the design remains the property of the publisher)
  • an ISBN (which every book needs if you intend to sell it commerically somewhere other than your own website or trunk of your car)
  • world-wide book distribution (isn’t that called a website?)
  • interior formatting (again, typically done in template and the design belongs to the publisher, not the author)
  • digital printing (I agree digital printing is much improved, but it’s still done on a photocopier on steriods and most quality books are still printed using offset printing)
  • author sets retail price
  • publishing house pays  you “royalties” on books you pay to print (which seems odd–if you own the copyright on the book and pay to produce it, why is the publishing house keeping some of your money and expecting you to be happy to get what’s left after their cut and they call that a royalty?)

Of course, you’ll note they’ll have to upsell you if you want editing, proofreading, LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number)–just a few things you might like to have if you’re putting your name on a book and you want that book to be professionally published.


According to the Independent Book Publisher’s Association, to be self-published, you must own the publishing company. If you do not own the publishing company, you are not self-published. Yet, the puppy-mill publishers continue to use the term, perhaps hoping potential authors will feel they won’t have to dig deeply into the offering–they already know what it is.

Unfortunately, most authors don’t.

Vanity Press

Everyone knows that a vanity press should be avoided with every fiber of one’s being. But what’s the definition of a vanity press? A vanity press is one that publishes anything sent to them–no discernment (and, in most cases, no improvement either). If you’re willing to pay, you’re published!

Subsidy Press

Subsidy presses typically make all orders come through them, so they get a piece of the action on every order. They hold your inventory and pay you “royalties” on books you’ve already paid to produce.

Subsidy presses became synonymous with vanity presses a few years ago, so now almost  every one calls themselves “self-publishers.”

Equity Publisher

We at Expert Publishing struggled with how to label our publishing house.

We don’t publish everything (we publish business, self-help, and inspiration).

We are proud of the books we publish (our name is on the book too, after all), and we use professional designers who do original (not template) designs. We use book editors. We proofread. We do both offset printing and digital printing.

We don’t pay royalties because we believe that when our authors pay for publication, they automatically own their inventory and should keep the money when they sell books. That’s a lot better than royalties.

Since we didn’t fit self-publishing, vanity publishing, or subsidy publishing, we needed a new term. We selected the term equity publishing because we don’t charge extra to include books we publish in our “world-wide distribution catalog,” which you would call a website. We don’t charge extra to show books we publish at book trade shows. We even help authors set up their own accounts and don’t charge extra for that. Equity publisher seems to sum it all up.

You have so many book publishing options available to you that you really need to do your homework and select the best option for you. Of course, being published is a dream for many, but don’t let it become a nightmare.

Wherever you are in the book publishing process, I hope you’ll find this post helpful in sorting through the book publishing maze.

Happy writing.