Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekend Musings: Book Deals



I had a previous post about first rights, and I had bit in there about book deals. Today, we talk book deals in a more abstract level, and one that focuses on the significance of those first rights.

Let's start off with a  hypothetical, a book is self-published. The author blew through those first rights and published on their own. That's not an ideal situation for a publisher to choose to pick up, as there will be a record of a previous version to their own. In all actuality, it's not too serious, but the main concern is negative reviews or impressions if the book came out in an unpolished state.

As stated in last post, publishers thought this was going to be the money train. First rights are not too important, but as I mentioned in that last post, it's a completely made up value created by publishers who are free to disregard it at any time to make more money. Why? A decently-selling self-published book already has a fanbase, good reviews, the quality has mainstream appeal, and oh yeah, it's selling a buttload on its own.

The point of these deals is to attach an author (Who can sell books) to a publisher for a long period of time (Years), so that the initial investment can be recouped.

A publisher is representing the work, so say hello to bookstore appearances at Barnes & Noble. They're not going to turn you away because of a no-return policy. There is marketing, well, possibly more marketing than done by just the author's own hands. An advance, but then that is where things become muddy. It involves money, it always does.

A self-published book selling well on its own should have the funds covered, so what a publisher will do is have a strong advance put in the contract. The issue is the advance itself, and the fact that the author is already making a royalty rate. An advance needs to be paid back before a royalty rate will be given back to the author. One would hope the advance is viable enough to pay for the time the book is off shelves and can cover the time spent paying it back.

Other authors know more about the nitty-gritty details about book deals and how all the finances work. I'm focusing on the first rights with a light side of business, because ultimately everything operates as a business.

In the previous post, I had a member who had the plan to self-publish and get the book picked up by a publisher. Would I tell her that's possible? Sure, with the asterisks that it wouldn't be likely.  And if it were likely, because the hypothetical book is selling well, would it be worth it to accept a book deal? I don't know, it depends on the details.