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The Facts

In this country, the big publishers each receive about  4-5,000 unsolicited fiction manuscripts a year. That’s around a hundred a week. Publishing is a competitive and low profit business. Perhaps only half of those were professionally presented and the rest get tossed. Of that 2,500, say, 98% will be rejected by the end of the first chapter.

That leaves about 50 manuscripts, and they’re the only ones which will get any kind of serious consideration. In a good year, ten of those might be published. In a bad year, less than five. The sad truth is most people who write a book will never get it published. Of over 1 million books published last year alone- about three quarters of them self-published.There is so much talent out there, but there is also a lot of competition! It is less risky for a publishing house to publish a known, successful author (or public figure) who based on current controversy or name recognition will drive book sales, than it is to take a chance on a new author who will require a lot of marketing and publicity to persuade readers to buy your new book. If you are not beautiful, television publicity may not even be an option; that is the harsh reality. 

I Got A Contract But Is That All I Get?

Let's say you get a contract. When you finally get the advance, don’t spend it on something wasteful like food, clothing or rent. You’re going to need every penny to promote your book, because the chances are that no one else will.

An advance is just that- an advance against future royalties-and the author doesn't get any money from book sales until the advance has been earned back by royalties from sales. The advance is seldom more than half to two-thirds of what the publisher expects the book to earn in royalties. It is their insurance in case it does badly. For example, say the book retails for $15.00 plus tax, the author's royalty rate is 10% and the publisher expects to sell 5,000 copies (98% of all titles sell less than this). If it does, the book would earn the author $15.00 x 0.10 x 5000=$7500 in royalties. The publisher would normally offer an advance of between $3,750 and $5,000.

If you're writing children's fiction, advances are typically lower than the figures quoted above. The reason is kid's books sell for a lower price. Literary fiction, which may get the reviews and the awards but doesn't sell well, expect advances to be lower at maybe only $1,000 to $3,000.

Despite this policy, a lot of books don't earn back their advances. According to one Publishers Weekly survey of five large publishers, only one in ten of their fiction books make back their advance. Even among mid-sized publishers, as many as 60% of all general trade titles may lose money.

Recently, a writer with 50,000 regular readers of his column on the web site of the San Francisco Chronicle reflected on offers made to him by his agents and publishers: "The book deals they offered were not what they once were. There were no more big advances, and no national book reading tours with stays in swanky hotels. That whole idea has sort of vanished, has sort of gone away. There is no more marketing money."

Why Self Publish?

Self-publishing is one of the fastest growing segments of the publishing industry. The finished copies, the copyright, and all subsidiary rights are exclusively yours. You take home a bigger royalty than you'd normally get from a traditional publisher.

With Print-On-Demand you maximize your profits. The key is that books are printed only when someone orders a copy; neither author nor publisher is forced into buying a bunch of books and having to hawk them. The quality of POD books is generally excellent. The only giveaway that you're dealing with a self-published book would be if the cover and interior layout were poorly designed -- which, unfortunately, is too often the case when not done by professionals.

You can receive market access to an extensive global distribution network including Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, NACSCORP, Bertrams, Blackwell, Gardners, and many more.

If You're Serious About Your Book, Hire a Professional

Good self-published books are few and far between. Because the barrier to entry is so low with companies such as Lulu, Publish America, CreateSpace, and many others, the majority of self-published books are pretty bad. If we had to put a number on it, We'd say less than 5 percent are decent and less than 1 percent are really good. A tiny fraction become monster success stories, but every every few months, you'll hear about someone hitting it big (for those who don't know already the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy was initially self-published).

Creating a book that looks professional and is indistinguishable from a book published by a traditional publishing house is very difficult and requires a minimum investment of over one thousand dollars. You wonder why "real" books take months to produce -- Well, we now know why. It's hard to get everything just right (if you're a novice at book formatting, Microsoft Word will become your worst enemy). And once you've finally received that final proof, you'll feel it could be slightly better.

If you want a real chance for your book to succeed, it needs to meet (if not exceed) the same quality standards as a similar book published by a well-known author or large publishing house and that's something you just can't do on your own.