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Monday, August 31, 2009

“Sold”— Good if you’re an eBay seller, great if you’re an author.

Sold. Those four little letters impart so much meaning, particularly for an up-and-coming author. The implications are huge, the possible repercussions far-reaching. A book deal. Ah, the joy of a dream come to fruition.

We writers know the hard work it takes to get that first sale. It’s not like the general public imagines: Legions of suits wearing half-glasses and standing by with contracts and Armani pens, waiting to pounce on the next finished novel, because so few people are actually writing books these days…

Not exactly. Lately I do see lots of writers new to the business who perhaps have just as tainted vision when it comes to what happens after the contract. A publishing contract, in simplest terms, means the writer sells the publisher rights to his/her book for X period of time in return for a portion of profits the publisher earns from selling it. I repeat: the writer sells her rights to the book. Rights to the book. Sold.

Hm. So much for pomp and glamour, huh? It’s just a regular old business deal, on regular old paper with legal terms. Yep. And the kicker is, that publisher’s contract is going to allow them to do pretty much what they want with the book during the contract period. They can slap cover art they like on it, with or without the author’s approval, edit as they see fit (and oh yeah, everybody’s books get edited. I bet Dan Brown and Nora don’t get no-edit contracts; Stephen King would be the first to tell you his books need edited), they can advertise other books the author may not like in the back-matter, maybe even market action figures for the novel (whose helmet hair the author doesn’t care for). Some publishers force title changes, too. What? How can publishers do this? It’s simple: because they have the right to.

Some people might think it sucks. But hey, unless you own a publishing company you can sell your own books through, that’s the breaks. Reality.

Kick, stomp, throw things, but please, give us all a break and quit calling publishers names because of it. They’re in business – just like we are.

Autumn Piper


Aubrie said...

Well, you lucked out on the cover choices because I think they are great! Have you ever had to change a title? If so, from what to what?

Felicity Kates said...

Well, I think I could stare at the cover of Lone Star Trouble all day. Yummy! Can't wait to read it when it comes out :)

Autumn Piper said...

Hey, Aubrie. Thanks! Yes, I do think I've lucked out with covers - Renee Rocco, well... ROCKS when it comes to covers. I've changed my titles oodles of times, but not after they were contracted. LOL. I have a very hard time with titles and am always open to suggestion (my CPs help me lots with them).

Autumn Piper said...

Thanks,Felicity. To be honest, the Lone Star Trouble cover is one of "my favorite" things. Mary want a life-size poster of it. LOL

Sutton Fox said...

Thought provoking post, Autumn. I was going to comment further, except I'm totally distracted by the LST cover. Love it. Thanks for brightening my day!

Maya said...

Yeah, I think a lot of newly published authors are surprised at how little control they have over things. The question they have to ask themselves really when it comes down to it is, are they willing to be published regardless, or not. Then decide which way they want to go. Now, back to ogling the thing of beauty that is LST's cover. Ahhh...


Isabel Roman said...

It's very true, Autumn, it IS a business contract. But such is the price for a hot cover like LST, righ? *G*