Part 8: Networking
That all-guns-blazing charge into the publishing world was borne of a desire to follow the shortest, most direct, route to publication. But it hadn’t produced a hit so, in autumn 2010, I began networking – the most valuable part of which turned out to be interrogating published writers about their experiences.
I spoke to Roger Mortimer, who published three action-packed adventure stories about swashbuckling mice in the nineties and noughties; hosted a dinner for William Sutton, whose first novel is a crime-busting adventure set in nineteenth-century London; spent an evening in the pub with Lorelei Mathias, who published two romantic comedies that sold in massive numbers; met my old mentor, Simon Cann (who has published 11 books and ebooks) in Spitalfields Market; and drank coffee with Ray Frensham, author of a best-selling guide to screenwriting, in a Piccadilly health food shop.
Reassessment of Strategy
Here are some of the salient facts I learned from that networking exercise:
- On the back of a mainstream publishing deal, first-time writers makes a maximum of 10% of the cover price. Generally, 8% is excellent.
- With self-publishing arrangements, royalties can hit 35 percent. But while recent advances in technology mean such arrangements produce high-quality physical products, they didn’t, at the time, produce products of the standard I needed for the travel and philosophy book I was trying to produce.
- No one going through a mainstream publishing house gets proper sales data regarding where, or by whom, their books are being bought.
- Advances for planned books are vehicles for facilitation. Advances for completed books are vehicles to de-risk the author and act as a tool for publishing houses to control writers at the contract-signing stage.
- Going through a mainstream publishing house means losing ultimate control of creative decisions.
- No one markets a book but the author – publishing houses release hundreds of titles a year for each in-house marketing person.
Writing a travel book – menu:
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Conceiving the idea
- Part 3: Philosophy in a travel book?
- Part 4: A Year in a Shed
- Part 5: Binding Travel and Philosophy
- Part 6: The Road to Publication
- Part 7: Post-Production
- Part 8: Networking
- Part 9: The Publishing Deal