Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Risk Versus Vanity Publishing

"One of the biggest fallacies in publishing is that once a publisher pays an advance, there are no other monetary concerns. Some people even go so far as to offer their books to publishers for free."

A month or so ago, Grumpy Old Bookman repeated novelist Steve Clackson's offer to publishers. On his web site, Clackson said that his novel would be FREE to any pubisher, so long as they contributed $5 per copy to a charity of their choice. I left a comment on GOB's site criticising Clackson for his ignorance of the financial realities of publishing, citing the figure of $40,000 to produce a book even if no advance was paid to the author. Clackson and another self-published writer of absolutely no consequence assailed me with puerile invective. When several people, including publishing professional Lynne Scanlon, pointed out to Clackson that his $5 per copy was too much, he modified his offer to $1 per copy. As I commented on David Thayer's blog, the amount is irrelevant. Clackson's offer is misleading. $1 a book is the functional equivalent of a royalty, so the publisher doesn't get the book for free. And even if they did, they still wouldn't want it. Here's why:

"Newsflash: a book with even a modest print run can cost a publisher upwards of $100,000 before it sells a single copy. Who pays for printing, binding, publicity and marketing? They do. So when a publisher takes on a book, they’re making a huge investment in the future of that author. So even if your first advance doesn’t cover a down payment on that beach house, your publisher does have a pretty high stake in you. And all the more reason for them to be extra picky who they publish."


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