Sunday, January 10, 2010

All About Rights, Copyrights and Basic Publishing

If you are reading this missive, chances are we have already communicated through email or over the phone. Now that you have an idea where your book or writing project is headed, you may have a few questions in mind.

How do I protect my work? How do I get paid? How do I formulate contracts? Let's start with the first question: copyrights and protection.

Copyright covers the expression of ideas and the arrangement of sentences. It's okay to copy facts and ideas, but do not copy the arrangement or flow of words, unless you are quoting someone. With quotes, simply acknowledge the author. Use open and closed quotation marks.

Okay, we've decided to write your book. Here's how you are protected.

Subsidiary Rights allows someone permission to publish or re-produce your material. Once we have your book published, the conventional publisher has the right to continue to publish and sell your book under the agreed upon contract which will warrant royalty payments to you. Royalties are, generally, 15% to 25% of the retail cost of your book.

Why self-Publish? Isn't that like re-inventing the wheel?

Should we opt to use Publishing On-Demand (self-publishing), you will receive 100% of the retail value of books sold from your website or blog, minus the production cost of the book. Through worldwide distribution, the On-Demand publisher will release wholesale copies to major book retailers (Barnes & Noble,, Target, etc.). You will receive a royalty from books sold to those retailers. An advantage to On-Demand self-publishing is realized once you understand that conventional publishers have many chargebacks to you, the author. Sometimes, multifarious chargebacks can totally exhaust your profits.

Also, know that traditional publishers are laid back. They will offer minimum promotion to authors without a big name. Either the book sells or it doesn't. With the advent of the internet, conventional publishers became smarter. They realized they need good stories with a buzz around it more now than ever. Why? Because On-Demand publishers made it possible for authors to put books on the market (one-at-a-time, if necessary) at a controlled cost. Conventional publishers have an enormous capital outlay when releasing new titles. Conventional publishers lost big to the On-Demand market. There are, however, many advantages to conventional publishers.

I use both. Because large publishers call on me to scout great stories, they are on stand-by to publish some of my clients titles. They pay a small sign-on fee to the author and take the bulk of profits and assign chargebacks. I, normally, use On-Demand publishing to introduce a book(the author pays to produce the book), then sell the subsidiary rights to a conventional publisher while exhausting the contract with the On-Demand publisher. Now the conventional publisher pays the author. This way the author pays a nominal fee to publish individual book units, originally, but controls the bulk of profits. The agreement between the author and the On-Demand publisher is, in legal terms, Executory, meaning either party can exhaust the contract. I am not a lawyer and am not attempting to give legal advice, however. I strongly suggest you use a lawyer familiar with publishing (intellectual property rights attorney) to handle the contract.

Let me know, what do you think about either option? How do you feel about bringing your story forward? If you are not sure if there is a book in you, ask yourself the following question.
What is unique about my accomplishment? What were the hardships? What would I say to help others avoid the many pitfalls?

Let me know how you feel about this post.