Show Me the Money

dollar-sign-book-56a79db33df78cf7729797ffDo you know anyone that has decided to become an author so they can get rich quick? Yeah, it’s a great idea, but certainly not a realistic one.

If this is your first book that you are writing and a publisher has accepted it, you will likely be given an advance of four to ten thousand dollars. The important thing to remember about this money, though, is that an advance has to be paid back to the publisher. Odds are the money you get will be on the smaller end if you are an unknown author. The advance will be paid back as your book begins to bring in money. In other words, you will not see any of the money once your book starts bringing in royalties until the advance is paid back in full. The advance is a great way to help cover some of your costs and bills while you are waiting for your book’s sells to skyrocket.

How about the royalties from the book sales? Well, most of the time, the contract from your publisher will list you as receiving somewhere between 10 to 15% of the royalties off of each sale. There are two different ways that the royalty percentages are figured. Some publishers will offer you the percentage in the contract based off of how much profit they make from the book, which is the net royalties. This typically is around half of the price of the book. Other publishers will pay out the percentage based on the list price of the book, or the gross royalties. Is that as confusing as it sounds?

Here is an example: Let’s say that your book has a list price of $10 and you have a contract to receive 10% in royalties off list. This would give you $1 per book that is sold. Now, if you are contracted to receive 10% of the net profits, you would only get about $0.50 per book sold. Keep this in mind before you sign a contract because that is a big difference in the amount you receive. Of course publishers prefer to offer the contract with the net royalties because they make a lot more money off of it.

Now, if you write an e-book, it is likely you will be offered a higher rate for the royalties. Also, if the sales of your book increase, you may get more money from the royalties. This is something you will have to talk with the publisher about putting in the contract before you sign it.




Literary Agents

A step you need to figure out early on in your career as an author is whether you want to use a literary agent or do it all on your own. I have spoken with many publishers about this very thing the past few years. With my first book, the first year I did not use an agent. Looking back that second year, I realized that I had been spinning my wheels and getting no where, so I decided to give a literary agent a try. There are, unfortunately, not many publishers out there with editors who will try to actively connect with potential writers to bring in new people. If you find one that offers you a deal that is suitable, then that would be fine. In my experiences, I could not find one, so I decided that going with an agent was the best step for me.

shutterstock_223883362There are several things that are different if you decide to go with an agent. The first one is money. An agent will need to be paid. Most of their money will come from any money you earn from your book, including your royalties and anything else. There is a huge benefit, though, in that you are given access to a lot of publishers at one time and the publishers are ones that work with your agent on a regular basis. Your agent will help you go over any contract you are offered to help you make a good decision, too.

Keep in mind that, if you decide to hire an agent, you are likely going to get a lot more letters of rejection. Of course this makes sense considering that your proposal is going out to a lot more publishers now. Though the rejections were disappointing, they were also quite helpful. Most of the publishers that looked over my proposal gave me an explanation as to why my book was being turned down. It could be as simple as they didn’t like the way the book ended or that they didn’t understand something in particular about the book. When they explain why they don’t want to work with me on the book, it gave me ideas on what I could work on to make it better for the next publisher.



Presenting to a Publisher

self-publishing-booksYou have now taken the steps to outline your book. You have even written a table of contents and the first few chapters. Now you will have to create a proposal for your book. By doing the steps you have already taken , a lot of the proposal is already completed. You will take these items in to the publisher when you meet with them, tell them who the target audience is for your book, why you are the only one that can do a good job writing this particular book, what the book is about, other books that are similar to what you are writing about, and anything else they may question you about. Hand the table of contents and the chapters you wrote in to the publisher and let him or her look over them and keep a copy for themselves. After all of this, you will want to explain to the publisher all of your plans for marketing your book. There are many ways to market it, but you will want to give specifics such as by speaking on the topic on tour for a year or so, creating a larger online following, or building up your online presence to get your name out there.

One thing to keep in mind is that a great idea is always better than your online presence. Most writers believe that having a great online presence is a huge plus for them in the market. Typically, that isn’t the case. Most publishers that I have personally worked with had no idea who I was before I walked into their door. And I had a huge following on Facebook and Twitter, but I started receiving one rejection letter after another from publishers. What it boiled down to was this: If you have a great idea that publishers think will sell, that is much more important than the number of followers or friends you have on social media.


Laying Out Your Ideas

So you have decided what book you want to write. You have tons of ideas bouncing around in your head that you just have to get down on paper. So where do you go from here?

For one, you need to find several books that seem to be similar to what you want to write about. Read each one and be able to explain how your book will be able to offer something that the competing one is missing. Try to pick titles that are newer too. If you choose older books to compare to and take that information to your publisher, they will immediately shoot down your idea because, chances are, someone has written more about your subject since that time.

bigstock_bright_idea_2594409Your next step is to write an outline for your book and then a table of contents. Now things are really starting to get serious here. Doing this will let you, and everyone else, know whether you are just toying around with an idea or if you are serious. There is a lot of work put into this step, but you want it to be good before you take it before a potential publisher. It will also help you have a game plan that you can follow and make the process of writing easier. Doing this will benefit you in the long run, too, because you will have to put your ideas across several different chapters and structure the message of your book.

Once the table of contents and outline is done, start working on the first three chapters. This will also test your will to write a book. When you can walk up to your publisher with a few solid chapters in your proposal, you are making a great case for yourself on why they should publish you. Doing the first three chapters in the book will also give you a good idea on how long it will likely take you to write your book in its entirety. Now if your first chapter takes you three months to write, you may have a problem.


The First Steps in Writing a Book

brainstorm-ideaSo you are interested in writing a book but don’t know where to start? Well, the first step is figuring out what exactly you want to write about. This may seem like an easy step, but a lot of times, it’s now. The key is to realize what it is that you are meant to write, as in something that you only you could do.

Several years ago, I was approached by a friend that wanted to hire me to write a manual on how to best wash windows. The company,, wanted to have something in print for their employees to read in order to get better quality work that was across the board. Did I have experience with washing window professionally? Yes. Was it something that I would want to write about and then potentially tour the country to discuss? Well, not really. Washing windows wasn’t a topic that was interesting enough for me to write about. They found someone else to do it and he has sold quite a few books. I had to find what was best for me, though, not just take the first paid job that came my way. ┬áThere have been other book ideas that have been presented to me that I have had to turn down for the same reason over the past few years.

Once you have figured out what you want to write about, you need to determine what will make your book unique and fulfill a need in the market. You will likely discover that the topic of your book has already been written about many times. Your job is to discover what will make yours different and stand out from the competition. A catchy title is nice, but you will need a lot more than that. You will have to find some sort of hook that will draw readers into your book and say, “I have got to read that!” For example, you may be interested in writing a book on how to build a website. Well, a great hook for you would be having free resources within the book to help others with building their own website. That would bring a lot of value to your readers.