Part 8: Networking


My writing desk in London

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:

  1. On the back of a mainstream publishing deal, first-time writers makes a maximum of 10% of the cover price. Generally, 8% is excellent.
  2. 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.
  3. No one going through a mainstream publishing house gets proper sales data regarding where, or by whom, their books are being bought.
  4. 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.
  5. Going through a mainstream publishing house means losing ultimate control of creative decisions.
  6. No one markets a book but the author – publishing houses release hundreds of titles a year for each in-house marketing person.


Next: The Publishing Deal >


Writing a travel book – menu:

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter