Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing


With this post, I’ve written 29 articles dealing with what’s called Traditional Publishing.

The Real Price of Traditional Publishing

Printing Press Image courtesy of Tracy Olson ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/designkryt-45681

For those who haven’t had to find out about different types of publishing, “traditional” involves finding an agent (who usually gets 15% of whatever you make) who shops your book to the publishing companies—when accepted by a publisher, an advance against possible royalties is given and the author is then pretty much kept out of the loop for the rest of the book’s life

By the way, those advances against sales have been getting smaller and smaller.

Also, nothing beyond the advance is paid to the author until royalties from sales pays off the advance.

Plus, if the book doesn’t sell well, it can be yanked from the stores within two weeks.

Then there are all the wicked things that happen behind legal language in author contracts.

And, the marketing of the book (unless you’re already famous) is minimal

Naturally, some folks have made a lot of money with traditional publishing; yet, many more have been cheated out of earnings and bullied into concessions they should never have had to consider

By the way, I’ve written 126 articles about Self-Publishing… 

However, there’s an author named Dean Wesley Smith who spent 40 years with traditional publishers, then did it all himself, then helped start a mid-sized publishing company. He’s written the article, The New World of Publishing: The Real Price of Traditional Publishing.

Here are a few excerpts:

“In the last two years I have seen a couple dozen author contracts from various traditional houses. ‘Life of Copyright’ is always a non-negotiable contract term in the United States if you are a normal-level writer.”

“The ‘life of a copyright’ at the moment in the US is the life of the author plus 70 years.

“An example: I finish the book I am working on. I am 65 years of age. Say I live another 30 years to 95. Then add 70 years and the life of the copyright for the novel I just finished will be 100 years.

“That’s what the ‘Life of Copyright’ term in a contract means.

“That’s right, your great-grandkids might be able to get your book back that you sold for a few thousand in one hundred years or so. But at that point the book will drop into the public domain and not be worth anything to them.”

And, then, after going through some examples of money-making with traditional vs self-publishing, he says:

“The real price of traditional publishing is total loss of control over your work.”

If you’re looking to someday publish, or you have friends who are, Dean’s article is a must read

Another author who’s been in the traditional trenches and is doing very well with self-publishing is Joe Konrath.
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