I’m happy to report that I’ve sold my first novel to one of the big NYC publishers! (I can’t say which house just yet, and I apologize in advance for waiting this late in the day, but they told me I had to wait until close of business before making an announcement.)
With the popularity of ebooks, there are some changes in publishing these days (which I’ll get into in a moment), but I couldn’t more thrilled that my YA vampire novel, Twit-light, will be seeing the light of day soon (or is that the dark of night?). It’s based on my short story, “The Rose,” published in Dreams of Decadence a few years back, with Edward, the vampire youth, and his teenaged love interest, Rose Isabel. A timeless story of love, heartache and betrayal spanning several generations, it will undoubtedly become the gold standard for its field in short order! So, without further ado, on to the specifics.
Over the past few years, I’ve talked to a lot of writers breaking in, so it was no surprise that the house expected me to do the marketing and publicity. Times are tough, and along with the standard advance getting halved from just a few years ago, authors are being asked to contribute more to ensure their success. I’m happy to help (heck, I would have done it anyway), but I admit I was a tad surprised to see it actually spelled out in the contract:
- Author agrees to contribute the entire amount of the advance (specified in paragraph 3) to Publisher for the purposes of marketing and publicity. Publisher agrees to set up an escrow account for this purpose in Author’s name. Author is encouraged (and may be required upon publication, subject to paragraph 36) to contribute additional funds.
That’s cool. The more skin in the game, the more likely the success! It’s great to see my publisher taking this kind of interest in my career.
I’ve heard that cover consultation is a big thing, and I’m happy to report that I got something even better: I have complete control of the cover! The publisher has given me a whole week to put together my vision of the cover using whatever sources I’d like to obtain for the purpose, and that’s the cover that will go to press. Awesome! Talk about creative control! I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Speaking of creative control, I’ve heard so many copyediting horror stories (it’s so common that the copyediting term “STET” has become mainstream), that it’s a relief to know I won’t even have to deal with silly copyeditors:
- Author agrees that if the services of a professional Copyeditor are required, Author will procure said services. Publisher agrees to provide a list of suitable candidates. Publisher also agrees to respect the Author’s creative right to opt out of Copyediting services.
Also, since Borders refuses to pay the publishers and Barnes & Noble is getting their pants sued off by Microsoft, there’s no need for bookstores any more, so my book will be available exclusively on Amazon. The publisher will be leveraging Amazon’s famed warehousing and distribution network to ensure that my book stays in print for as long as possible. And all of this comes free from Amazon, which means they’ve got skin in the game, too. How cool is that?
Of course, it turns out that I’ll pretty much have a steady supply of my books, so I’m not too worried about going out of print:
- Author agrees to maintain a reserve of the Book at all times while considered in print by the Publisher, in order to address shortfalls experienced by Amazon. This supply cannot exceed 85% of the outstanding copies, but must not fall below 50%. Publisher agrees to make reasonable effort to ensure copies of the Book are made available to the Author at a 20% retail
discount for this purpose. If at any time or for any reason the Author’s reserve falls below the contracted amount, Author agrees to provide Print-On-Demand (POD) copies to make up the shortfall within 7 days.
The only thing I didn’t get any real say in was the price. The house was quite firm on that, and the prices they set were a little higher than I thought they’d be, but I felt that $19.95 for the paperpack and $29.95 for the ebook was fair with today’s inflated prices, so I didn’t push the issue. (Besides, that just means higher royalties for me!)
I left out some of the more boring parts of the contract, but that’s the gist of it. I just sent in the copyright application, so I expect my novel will availabe around Memorial Day weekend. From my back-of-the-envelope figuring, I figure I’ll need to scrape up about $20K to keep up my end of the contract (it’s all deductible, so that’s cool), and I’ve decided to launch an intensive 3-month publicity tour this summer while the kids are on vacation. I’ll be flying into all the major cities in the continental US (unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to Alaska and Hawaii because of the high cost of airline tickets there!) — pretty much a different city every day — and stopping in at each of the airport bookstores and newstands to sign copies of my book (which I’ll have available for sale from my reserve, of course). I’m sure to be a bestseller in no time!
See you at the airport!
April 1, 2011