Monday, January 9, 2012

Good news, bad news, and publishing.

So, this is going to be one of those days where there's a lot of good news, bad news.

Good news: I'm keeping up a good pace on my Examiner articles: both as the Catholic reviewer, and the self defense Examiner.

Bad news: so, I don't exactly have a buffer of blogs for this week. My bad.


Bad news: this book of mine they want is not A Pius Man, and I do not have an agent for it.

Good news: this publisher doesn't need agents!

Bad news: they're not open again to submissions until March 1..... Bugger.

Good news: time to edit. Quickly.

Now, it's been a very, very, very long while since we've done the post explaining how things work in the publishing business.

This is the way things usually work:

Agents represent the author.
Their mission: sell your book to a publisher for the highest possible value.  Agents act as a filtering mechanism for editors. If an author comes with his own agent, he has passed the first line of defense. There has to be something marketable about the book, otherwise, a good agent wouldn't be bothered with it. An agent would certainly not touch a first time author's book with a ten foot pole unless it was pretty darn good. Consider it this way—the agent only gets approximately 10% of what the author does, and an unknown author (barring a celebrity) has no selling value by themselves. The book had better be good.

And the editors need the filter. Editors have agents pitching manuscripts at them constantly. There are some stories about editors having a seven course meal for lunch, and with each new course came a new agent, and each agent has multiple books to pitch.

Editors work for the publisher, and goes over the manuscript with a fine tooth comb. They are generally the people who are the feelers for the book. The agents have to cultivate contacts, pitch the book to editors, convincing them to at least look at it.

And then, editors have to sort through all of the suggested manuscripts pitched in order to select those that would actually be read. Then an editor has to read all of them. Usually, these are samples of fifty pages and a synopsis, but that's still a lot when you consider their already busy life.

And these editors, after sorting through what projects they think will sell, then have to pitch it up the chain of command. 

The publisher is the one that buys the book from you. That's where the money comes from, that's how the book is distributed. Before writers even sell a single copy, payments are first made with advances.

Advances are made by the publisher, and tend to be broken up into three parts: signing with the publisher, the arrival of the first draft; prompt delivery of the final draft. 

Simple, right? The author pitches to an agent. The agent pitches the book to an editor in a publishing company. The editor pitches the book to the company s/he works for. The publisher sells the book to you, the audience. The agent doesn't make money until the author does. The publisher doesn't make money until the books fly off the shelves. 

Or, mathematically....

Agent -->Editor
Editor --> Publisher
Publisher --> the reading populace.
$--> The Reading Populace --> Publisher --> You.

In this case, I skipped step one.

We'll see how this other book goes.  Here's hoping

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