Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An overview of Traditional Publishing-Millard Jones



An overview of traditional publishing by ‘Millard Jones’.

This e-zine should enable you to make a more informed decision in the publishing ring as well as educate you on some of the more practical publishing points and issues. Regretfully this article would be tens of thousands of words long if I delved into everything mentioned in this e-zine.

 

A few bullet points I’ll shoot at you to start with.

You do NOT need an agent to be published.
An agent CAN help you be published.
Agents ALWAYS like to be fed nice manuscripts.
Craft is PARAMOUNT(unless you have a horse to ride).
Editing is KEY to the process of being published.
Rewrites are GOOD and NORMAL for your manuscript.
Self publishing is a GOOD option in some cases.
Self publishing is a BAD option in some cases.
A first book-to-publish manuscript over 120,000 words is HARD to shop agent or no agent.

^_^ Broken any hearts yet? </3   


Great, let’s go: Traditional publishing has been  traditional for a long time, it didn’t get it’s name by being new on the block. As the “grandfather figure” here it deserves the first chance.  Here are two simple examples of the traditional publishing game.

Example #1

 You write your first out-of-this-world-novel. You also edit and rewrite it THREE times.(Yes I said three) You then send a professional manuscript proposal to an agent(Bartholomew) after running around the house sixty two times for good luck.  And one, two, three…  Huzzah! Bartholomew loves the idea!

Money note: You pay Bart nothing at this point. NOTHING. The standard agent fee is 15% when they sell the manuscript to the big bad—I mean good publishing company.

You then sell 250,000 copies over the course of a year to your grandma, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, as of yet unborn relatives, koalas with no ears, your neighbors’ yappy dog, your great uncle, great cousin, talking cats in boots, Bartholomew’s relatives, random people you meet at the spa, and a not so great step sister. Your take home per- book average is 42 cents with the bookstore selling price of 12.99. You can do the math, but if you want to feel rich—don’t.  On the other hand, you do have a foot in the publishing door; you just blew the door open. And! The next idea you want to shop is very likely go over well. You just sold 250k copies, you’re gold.


Example  #2
 You write your first out-of-this-world novel. You also edit and rewrite it THREE times.(Yes I said three)
 You chose NOT to share your future gains, and do NOT attempt go get an agent. By doing this you severely limit the number of major publishing companies that you can submit to. However, fate lends a hand and a major publishing company that allows unsolicited submissions picks you up. You also win the lottery on the same day. You again: sell 250,000 copies, make 42 cents a book, and look great to the next publisher you wants to try if you want to jump ship. You also didn’t share that 15% with an agent, so you send it to me for writing this. And just like before, you do have a foot in the publishing door; you just blew the door open. And! The next idea you want to shop is very likely go over well. You just sold 250k copies, you’re gold.

Time for a reality check: I’d love to sell 250,000 copies of anything. Toothpast, deodorant, hair gel, 250,000 hairs…I’d love that! But just to make sure I’m not falsely representing anything here, the likelihood of you selling 250,000 copies is awful. But….Temps hominum fati

Now let’s take a look at the top ten Christian publishers in the world and see what they say about submissions, hmm? These figures were compiled in January of 2010. 
U/S/P is Unsolicited proposal

Thomas Nelson
·         No U/S/P
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS to: http://www.christianmanuscriptsubmissions.com Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal

Zondervan
·         U/S/P for Academic, Reference, and Ministry resources only.
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS in all other genres to: www.authonomy.com/Christian Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal.

Tyndale House
·         No U/S/P
·         Accepts submissions ONLY from agents OR already published authors.
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS towww.christianmanuscriptsubmissions.com Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal

Baker
·         No U/S/P.
·         Exceptions on U/S/P  if you establish a relationship with Baker staff at a writing conference. That is considered an appropriate contact to shop relationship with them in regard to your MS.
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS to  www.christianmanuscriptsubmissions.com , www.writersedgeservice.com , and www.authonomy.com/christian Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal(where applicable)

B&H
·         No U/S/P
·         Exceptions on U/S/P: They accept proposals during/from writers conferences attended by B&H Fiction editorial staff.

Waterbrook Multnomah
·         No U/S/P.
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS to http://www.ChristianManuscriptSubmissions.com Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal.



Harvets House
·         No U/S/P
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS  to www.ChristianManuscriptSubmissions.com Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal.



Barbour
·         No U/S/P


Moody
·         Will review unsolicited fiction manuscripts but does not accept unsolicited nonfiction manuscripts. Moody Publishers will review only those nonfiction manuscripts submitted by professional literary agents, Moody Publishers authors, authors known to us from other publishers, other people in the publishing industry or Moody Bible Institute ministries.
·         They recommend uploading your agentless MS to www.ChristianManuscriptSubmissions.com Where royalty publishers and their staff will have the opportunity to review the proposal.



FaithWords
·         No U/S/P
·         They apparently refuse to recommend anything, they hate you. ;-)


Whew! Look at all those facts and figures, powerful stuff!!

Universal truth #B213423: All unsolicited proposals or manuscripts received outside of the unique instruction of each individual publisher will be discarded. Sad day! L
·         Example
As you know, Thomas Nelson has a no U/S/P policy and you send your project anyway. They burn it in the fires of doom deep in the heart of the company and make a paper ring. Do you want that? I didn’t think so. So don’t try to sneak in your proposal or MS, they’ll eats your precious!!!


Useful established facts:
 There are major Christian publishing companies that allow U/S/P.
The majority of the top ten Christian publishers don’t accept these out-of-the-wild-blue-yonder-proposals. Neither will your spouse, who can blame them?  So before you get your britches in a bunch running off to find an agent, here’s a great link to check out when considering who to nab as your most-fabulous-ever-agent.

http://michaelhyatt.com/literary-agents-who-represent-christian-authors.html


Word to the wise: Check up on the agent to their gills before going with them. Contact currently represented authors and companies and ask questions like:“Are they competent? Is their favorite color really girly pink?” Actually, no don’t ask that last one. Here is a list of much better questions that Michael Hyatt laid out:
Before you hire a literary agent, I would encourage you to:
  1. Contact at least three authors whom the agent currently represents. Ask the agent for a list, including telephone numbers. Obviously, these will be clients the agent thinks will speak well of him. Regardless, you will still learn a great deal by talking to these clients. If possible, talk with them on the phone. People will tell you things on a phone call that they will not put in writing.
  2. Contact at least three publishers with whom the agent has recently done business. Again, ask the agent to provide a list. Ask the publisher, four questions:
    • “Did the agent present a compelling proposal?”
    • “Did the agent provide you what you needed to make a good decision?”
    • “Did the agent respond to your calls and emails in a timely manner?”
    • “Was the agent fair and reasonable in the negotiating process?”


Now let’s look at a non-exhaustive pros list:
·         If your book sells well, your friends actually have the potential to see it at their local Christian book store! Serious bragging rights folks (: Not that you as an author would stoop to bragging.
·         It’s traditional, it’s brick and mortal, it’s tried and true ….And if you do your homework it won’t surprise you. Rhyming anyone?
·         Every year  best sellers are made through traditional publishing. Example: Twilight, who’s publisher, Hachette jumped from #5 to#3 due to the Saga’s selling.
·         Solid books come out of traditional publishing: Dragons of the Valley, Radical, the Bible(originally self-published under a Mosaic imprint), The Homelander series, The Sword of Lyric...The list can continue forever.
·         Traditional publishing can flat out work.
·         All advertising is not solely on you.
·         Royalties, book advances, series deals-Money anyone?



Now the cons, and these aint’ got no orange jump suits:
·         If your book doesn’t sell it’s going to be gone so fast from your local bookstore’s shelves it’s going to make your head all swimmy.
·         It’s hard to be traditionally published! It requires  good craft, a good agent(where applicable), and a dose of being in the right place at the right time. It’s not happenstance that someone publishes, no Ma’am. Hard work, good work, and good contacts.
·         Like in our examples, you may write a best seller, but at 42 cents a book it’s hard to get rich.
·         CBA publishers have boundaries for content which your work may simply not fit.
·         You may write in a niche genre that the publisher refuses to take a chance on.


To give a short recap. We just, we covered well over a fifteen hundred words in just touching on traditional publishing and the top ten Christian publishers. We also threw in a little bit on  how they work and how they don’t work.  If all goes well and I don’t get hit by Michelle’s comet…. another ‘publishing questions e-zine” should be coming soon to a computer near you. But first, are there things you’d like to learn more about? Agents, what publishing company has the best logo, E-publishing, self-publishing, do my socks have gold toes? Remember, I’m not here to talk to myself, let me know what you want. YOU give suggestions for further topics. Oh, and take this article with a grain of salt, salt makes everything better.


© 2011  Millard Jones, all rights reserved.

6 comments:

Renna said...

Awesome! I learned a lot!

everlastingscribe said...

Fantastic, thanks Millard! I'd love you to tackle the e-book self publishing next? There are some issues no one raises with them like 1) theft 2)the inability to share 3) real purchases with $ verses free downloads that charge a credit card 0.00 but look like a sale. Let's hash out a more balanced look at e-books? Please? I'll feed your gryphons and clean up after them for a week?

The Director said...

That article was really great. Thanks Millard! I normally avoid thinking about publishing because I'm no where close and it makes my head hurt, but that was a great read and it didn't scare me ;) Clear, concise, amusing and informative. *nods* Well done :]

Sarah said...

Awesome, Millard! This was really helpful.

Now I have to go look for an agent . . .

Eagles Wings said...

*steals information for future use*

Millardthemk said...

So glad this was helpful!! Thanks for commenting.