Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

What If a Publisher Steals Your Book Idea? The Stupidest Advice I’ve Heard This Year…

November 13, 2013

A new author came to me recently saying she’d been advised not to pitch her brilliant book idea to Hay House “in case….” drum roll… “they STEAL your idea.”

Well that certainly made me choke and splutter on my fruit smoothie first thing in the morning. The thought of publishing icon, Louise Hay, STEALING someone else’s idea. Crikey, did I hear that correctly? I asked the author to repeat what she’d just told me. And yes, she was certain this was the advice that she’d been given.

I’d like to dispel a big MYTH here about publishers nicking book ideas off unsuspecting authors.

Publishers are inundated with book ideas. Some of them are receiving over 1,000 manuscripts per DAY. Do they really need to pinch your book idea when they can barely cope with what they’re being sent already?

Just supposing that an editor did this in a moment of madness, would they get away with it? In this Internet age, when blogging and social media are prevalent, how on earth would they keep this secret? Wouldn’t we all know about it via viral media? They might get away with it once. But twice, a dozen times, a hundred times? How would the publishing house stay in business when authors stopped sending them their manuscripts?

I’ve been working in publishing for over 20 years now. I’ve yet to witness anything that convinces me that this actually happens. What I do see though – and regularly – is opportunists taking advantage of authors’ anxiety that this might happen. Because guess what? It just so happens that the ‘experts’ who share such nuggets of wisdom have their own publishing presses which can… wait for it… publish your book at a price. Gee, thanks!

Cowboy publishing experts aside… if you’re really worried about your idea being copied, you can ask the other party to sign a ‘Non Disclaimer Agreement’ (NDA) or simply trademark your book title. Be warned though that NDAs are off-putting to most publishers and literary agents, unless for example, you have good reason to hide your identity like Belle de Jour. It is also difficult to completely trademark a title, as it’s still relatively easy to mimic a brand. Take for example, my event, The Millionaire Bootcamp for Authors which was recently ‘copied’ by one of the speakers who attended it under the title of The Millionaire Summit for Authors. But imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?

Many authors are understandably anxious that their book idea might be used by someone else. You may worry if: another writer has the same book title; if they launch a book with a similar plot or topic; or, if they have a writing style like yours. When you discover a book with the same idea, you may worry that “someone else got there first” or “there’s no point in me writing my book now”.

But here’s the good news. No one else is ever going to write with your unique voice, your passion, your dedication, your amazing experience. Another book may have the same title or plot. But it’s impossible to replicate YOU.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – and sometimes it’s a great advantage to ‘piggy-back’ off someone else’s fantastic book idea. You only need to consider ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Westside Story’, or ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, to realise this.

Some literature experts argue that there’s only a limited number of archetypal plots in all books, whether fiction or non-fiction. The generally accepted point of view is that there is only ‘one’ basic plot. Ie. There is a problem – the problem is explored – the problem is resolved. This problem is usually dealt with in a sequence that typically follows the pattern of: Exposition – Rising Action – Climax – Falling Action – Denouement. This pattern can be repeated once or many times throughout a book.

With over 2 million books already published worldwide this year, it’s unlikely anyone will come up with a totally fresh and original idea. But your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your vision, will always be as unique as your fingerprint.

And no one can EVER steal that from you.

Advertisements

How To Sell Millions of Books (Alternatively Titled: My Reckless Gambling Streak!)

April 16, 2013

I was wondering how to motivate one of my clients to finish his book, as life and work seemed to keep getting in his way. So I recklessly said: “Let’s have a bet: let’s see if you can finish your book before I finish mine.”

Before I knew it, we’d agreed that I would roll up my sleeves and hand-wash his car if he finishes first.

And so, ‘Millionaire Authors: The Secret To Selling Over A Million Books’ was conceived.

I set myself the goal of finishing it within 4 weeks and launching it in the autumn to coincide with this year’s Millionaire Bootcamp for Authors from 1st to 3rd November.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly at the start. ‘This bet is going to be a doddle,’ I thought. Never mind that my client owns a dog that sheds fur and drools, and leaves muddy footprints on his car upholstery. I only have about 10 hours of interviews to do, and maybe another 2 hours writing the introduction. And my car could do with a good clean after so many school runs with my kids.

Except that I’ve been hitting one or two unexpected snags…

So far, I’ve contacted over 60 bestselling authors and their agents, requesting interviews. And I’ve received almost as many rejections along the way.

I’d like to interview 12 millionaire authors for my book. So far, ‘in the bag’ as it were, I have:

Jeffrey Archer, ‘Kane & Abel’ – 250 million copies sold;
John Gray, ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ – 50 million copies sold;
Sir Terry Pratchett – ‘Discworld’ series – 85 million copies sold;
Eric Carle, ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ – 30 million sold;
Alexander McCall Smith, ‘No1 Ladies Detective Agency’ – £40m sold;
Joanne Harris, ‘Chocolat’, £21 million sold.

To achieve this, I’ve had to contact – and receive rejections from – a list of celebrities and authors who include:

  • J K Rowling
  • Dan Brown
  • Jacqueline Wilson
  • Danielle Steel
  • John Grisham
  • James Patterson
  • Bill Bryson
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Ian Rankin
  • Julia Donaldson
  • Francesca Simon
  • Martina Cole
  • Philip Pullman
  • Stephenie Meyer
  • Delia Smith
  • Stephen King
  • Marian Keyes
  • Josephine Cox
  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Terry Deary
  • Anthony Horowitz
  • Ian McEwan
  • Wilbur Smith
  • Sebastian Faulks
  • Helen Fielding
  • Lee Child
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Mark Haddon
  • Joanna Trollope
  • Jackie Collins
  • Louis de Bernières
  • Jack Higgins
  • Anita Shreve
  • Robert Harris
  • Frank McCourt
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Robert Allen
  • Anthony Robbins
  • Louise Hay
  • Lynne Truss
  • Robert Kyosaki
  • Bob Proctor
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Brian Tracy
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Mark Victor Hansen
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Khaled Hosseini
  • Ken Follet
  • Tim Ferris
  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Marci Schimoff
  • Joe Vitale

In other words, only 10 per cent of the people I’ve contacted have agreed to be interviewed. So it’s likely I’ll need to contact another 60+ authors to find another 6 writers who’ll agree to be interviewed!

When I was little, my mother told me the fable of ‘The Hare and The Tortoise’. If you’ve never read it before, it’s a story of how persistence and determination allows a slow tortoise to win a race – even when the competition (the hare) is a much faster sprinter. Mum told me the fable when I was a kid. She said: “What matters is that you keep plodding on right until the very end. Often it’s the plodders who are the winners!”

That lesson always stuck with me: that persistence and determination often win the day. If you want something badly enough, you just have to work for it. There’s no point whining or complaining. You just dust yourself down and get on with it.

Or, in my case, you prepare to roll up your sleeves grab a sponge, and get covered in dog hairs and soap suds.

I’ll keep you updated with how the bet is coming along in blogs that follow…

In the meantime, remember to block out the 1st to 3rd November in your diary for The Millionaire Bootcamp for Authors: I’m already lining up some fantastic speakers!

I’ll be releasing full details shortly at: http://www.millionaireauthorsbootcamp.com.

The Secrets To Selling Millions of Books

The Secrets To Selling Millions of Books

Your Book Deal And Publishing Contract… Red Flags To Watch Out For!

February 3, 2012

The antics of some publishers never cease to amaze me. What makes me gasp even harder is that most authors – even experienced ones – are oblivious to what they’re unwittingly signing away.

In the euphoria of finally getting a book deal, many authors overlook the fact that they are getting rather a raw deal in their publishing contract. This naivete prevents them from getting deals that are better for them and better for their books.

I was reading a publishing contract for one of my clients this week. He’s a prominent celebrity, at the top of his field, and regularly featured on TV.

Here are some of the things that I flagged up, before he signed on the dotted line:

* World Rights & Film Rights *
In one fell swoop, the author was signing away his UK rights, world rights, TV rights, digital rights, film rights, to name but a few. All for the grand sum of – wait for it – £5,000.

A decent literary agent will sell your UK rights, your German rights, your US rights, your Australian rights, etc separately. They’ll also sell your film options separately. If any publisher suggests you hand over all rights, make damn well sure you are paid a decent sum for it.

And here’s the thing, once they have these rights who says they are actually going to do anything once they have these rights? Ideally, there must be a clause committing the publisher to some sort of definite action regarding these rights – otherwise they could easily end up gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

* Break Clause *
Now here’s something else that’s vitally important. What if there is a strong demand for your book, but your publisher decides not to reprint it? Or what if it is remaindered, but you can’t persuade them that your genre is suddenly fashionable again? Or supposing, many years after your death, one of your forebears would like to publish your out-of-print work?

A break clause allows the rights to revert to the author after a certain period – usually 3 years after a book has been remaindered or goes out-of-print. It ensures that a publisher does not retain the rights indefinitely.

* Competition Cause *
As most successful authors know, the big money is in the upsell. In other words, higher priced products – such as home study courses, CD sets, DVD sets – which are spin-off products from your book.
If you are planning to re-purpose or rewrite your content and sell other similar products, beware ‘competition’ clauses that tie your hands. This is particularly relevant when it comes to non-fiction books.

* Options On Subsequent Books *
Many times, publishers request the option to consider the author’s next book before it is shown to any other publisher. The author is so thrilled and flattered by this that they overlook that this isn’t necessarily best for them or best for their book.

Sure, if a publisher pays for this option, that’s great. But if it’s just a clause in your book contract that commits you to offering them your book, without any commitment on their part to accepting it, this just ties your hands. It’s a rather one-way deal!

* Print Run *
Ideally, your book contract will specify an exact print run for your book. Many publishers will print 3000 books and think that this is a good print run. Others will print 35,000 books. In rare instances, the number will run into millions.

Unless you know this figure, the royalties percentages in your book contract are essentially meaningless.

* Deadline *
Make sure there is a realistic deadline for your book. My client was committed to a two-month deadline to complete a 60,000-word book. He planned to take two months off to write it.
Had he ever written a book in such a short timeframe before, I asked? “No,” was the answer. This ridiculously tight deadline again favoured the publisher, but left the author little leeway for rewrites and changes of plan.

Give an estimate for the length of time it will take to write your book, then double it!

* Publication Date *
The launch date for a book is an important part of marketing. Dieting books are much more likely to sell in January when everyone is making New Year resolutions, for example. Horror books sell better around Halloween.

Ideally, your book contract will contain a specific publication date, which shows that some thought and effort has been put into the marketing of your book.

* Marketing & PR *
Ok, marketing and PR. I’ve lost count now of the number of disillusioned authors who complain to me of lousy (or complete lack of) marketing and PR for their books. It is rare indeed to find clauses in book contracts committing to specific marketing and PR strategies. However, if you can get one of these into your book contract, you know that a publisher is serious and committed – and your book will stand a much better chance of success.

This is just a brief overview of things to look out for in your book contract – especially if you are going it alone and negotiating without a literary agent. Weigh up your options and consider every clause carefully.

After working with me, my client was able to go back to his publisher and negotiate a much better deal by deleting some clauses and asking for others to be inserted.

Your book is one of your most valuable assets. After spending so much time and effort writing it, don’t be too speedy in signing it away!

 

Is Your Book Deal The Best It Could Be? – What Authors Unwittingly Sign Away To Publishers

October 9, 2010

The antics of some publishers never cease to amaze me. What makes me gasp even harder is that most authors – even experienced ones – are oblivious to what they’re unwittingly signing away.

In the euphoria of finally getting a book deal, many authors overlook the fact that they are getting rather a raw deal in their publishing contract. This naiveté prevents them from getting deals that are better for them and better for their books.

I was reading a publishing contract for one of my client recently. He’s a prominent celebrity, regularly featured on TV.

Here are some of the things that I flagged up, before he signed on the dotted line:

* World Rights & Film Rights *
In one fell swoop, the author was signing away his UK rights, world rights, TV rights, digital rights, film rights, to name but a few. All for the grand sum of – wait for it – £5,000.

A decent literary agent will sell your UK rights, your German rights, your US rights, your Australian rights, etc separately. They’ll also sell your film options separately. If any publisher suggests you hand over all rights, make damn well sure you are paid a decent sum for it.

And here’s the thing, once they have these rights who says they are actually going to do anything once they have these rights? Ideally, there must be a clause committing the publisher to some sort of definite action regarding these rights – otherwise they could easily end up gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

* Break Clause *
Now here’s something else that’s vitally important. What if there is a strong demand for your book, but your publisher decides not to reprint it? Or what if it is remaindered, but you can’t persuade them that your genre is suddenly fashionable again? Or supposing, many years after your death, one of your forebears would like to publish your out-of-print work?

A break clause allows the rights to revert to the author after a certain period – usually 3 years after a book has been remaindered or goes out-of-print. It ensures that a publisher does not retain the rights indefinitely.

* Competition Cause *
As most successful authors know, the big money is in the upsell. In other words, higher priced products – such as home study courses, CD sets, DVD sets – which are spin-off products from your book.
If you are planning to repurpose or rewrite your content and sell other similar products, beware ‘competition’ clauses that tie your hands. This is particularly relevant when it comes to non-fiction books.

* Options On Your Next Book *
Many times, publishers request the option to consider the author’s next book before it is shown to any other publisher. The author is so thrilled and flattered by this that they overlook that this isn’t necessarily best for them or best for their book.
Sure, if a publisher pays for this option, that’s great. But if it’s just a clause in your book contract that commits you to offering them your book, without any commitment on their part to accepting it, this just ties your hands. It’s a rather one-way deal!

* Print Run *
Ideally, your book contract will specify an exact print run for your book. Many publishers will print 3000 books and think that this is a good print run. Others will print 35,000 books. In rare instances, the number will run into millions.

Unless you know this figure, the royalties percentages in your book contract are essentially meaningless.

* Deadline *
Make sure there is a realistic deadline for your book. My client was committed to a two-month deadline to complete a 60,000-word book. He planned to take two months off to write it.
Had he ever written a book in such a short timeframe before, I asked? “No,” was the answer. This ridiculously tight deadline again favoured the publisher, but left the author little leeway for rewrites and changes of plan.
Give an estimate for the length of time it will take to write your book, then double it!

* Publication Date *
The launch date for a book is an important part of marketing. Dieting books are much more likely to sell in January when everyone is making New Year resolutions, for example. Horror books sell better around Halloween.
Ideally, your book contract will contain a specific publication date, which shows that some thought and effort has been put into the marketing of your book.

* Marketing & PR *
Ok, marketing and PR. I’ve lost count now of the number of disillusioned authors who complain to me of lousy (or complete lack of) marketing and PR for their books. It is rare indeed to find clauses in book contracts committing to specific marketing and PR strategies. However, if you can get one of these into your book contract, you know that a publisher is serious and committed – and your book will stand a much better chance of success.

This is just a brief overview of things to look out for in your book contract – especially if you are going it alone and negotiating without a literary agent. Weigh up your options and consider every clause carefully.

After working with me, my client was able to go back to his publisher and negotiate a much better deal by deleting some clauses and asking for others to be inserted.

Your book is one of your most valuable assets. After spending so much time and effort writing it, don’t be too speedy in signing it away!

Writers – Don’t Do It!!!

September 2, 2009

I just HAD to write this blog as it concerns a publishing ruse all writers should be aware of.

I certainly wasn’t aware of this before now… so I’m sure it will catch some of you by surprise too.

I have to say that I nearly fell off my chair when I heard about it.

A first-time novelist has just sent their book to what they thought was a publishing house.  The publisher told them their book wasn’t of a high enough standard for their list. However,  it was suitable for self-publishing with their sister company… At a cost of… drum roll… £10K for just over 100 books.

£10K folks! Are they mad? Do they really think writers will fall for this ruse. Obviously not all that mad, because the writer who told me about this was considering paying this sum.

Please, please, please do your research before considering anything so drastic.  Most publishing houses are charging in the region of £2.5K per 1000 books. That’s around £2.50 per book. If you want a smaller print run, then you’ll be paying even less.

It’s easy to feel disheartened and crushed when you’ve had one too many rejections. Yes, you can feel like you’re never going to reach your goal. But there really is no need to go reaching for your credit card when you’re offered a ‘solution’ that costs £10K. This just reeks to me of manipulation.

If you’re having no luck getting your book published, then learn about marketing, get a mentor, rewrite your book, have someone check over your pitch.  Look at independent publishing houses or take a SERIOUS look at self-publishing.

Self-publishing is NOT – most definitely not a ‘second best’ these days. For someone of an entrepreneurial mindset, it can actually be a better option than a mainstream publisher.

But NOT when you are paying £10K for a handful of books. That is vanity publishing not self-publishing. You and your book deserve far better than this.