Thursday, June 28, 2012

Anatomy of a Book Deal

My goodness.  The announcement of my book contract certainly grabbed more attention than I thought it would.  I am humbled—and appreciative to everyone who sent their congratulations—and just a bit chagrined.

I know I don’t have to explain this to the writers among you (and seeing as how you’re reading this blog, I expect you are one) but there may be a novice or a non-writer out there so I would like to set the record straight:

The average person, when they hear “book deal” thinks “Macmillan Press!  500k advance!  Book tours!”  The reality is not quite so grand; they’re thinking New York City when they should be thinking, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  And I mean that in the most sincere sense: there is nothing wrong with Stockbridge, it is a perfectly adequate place—affable, approachable, amenable—it’s just not as big as NYC, nor as lucrative.

So here’s the deal:
  • No advance, but that is quite common these days, especially among small publishers.
  • Marketing/publicity guided by them but the grunt work is up to me, which is also becoming an industry standard.
  • My novel will be released as an ebook
That final item was a sticking point with me; I’m old school, and to me a book isn’t published unless the publishing of it results in something you can hold in your hand that doesn’t require batteries.  But I suppose—old dog though I am—I need to move with the times; ebooks are the future and they make it possible for worthy books, that otherwise would not have had the opportunity, to reach readers.  (I read that somewhere.) 

There is also the possibility, albeit a slim one, that my little book may someday grow up to be a real boy, but that’s not anything I have to worry about at the moment.

The bottom line is, I looked at the codicil about my novel being released as an ebook, and then at the long list of agents and publishers I would have to prepare and send submission packages to if I didn’t accept the offer (believe it or not, this was only the second publisher I sent the manuscript to).  So, after considering all the time, effort and expense getting back into submissions-mode would entail (and taking into account my terminal slackerliness), I thought “bird-hand-bush” and signed the contract.

"Sign ze papers, old man" (bonus points if you recognize where that is from).

I suppose, if I wanted to come at this from a glass-half-full angle, I might consider this a sort of consolation prize, or an “almost but not quite” publishing contract, but in truth I feel pleased and privileged; last week I was a guy (one of many, many thousands) with a finished manuscript looking for a home, and this week I am a guy who is about to have his book published by a publisher, which puts me in rarer company and, as noted in my previous post, propels me a bit further along this journey called “writer.”

Add to that the fact that my Postcard books are currently being herded into the publisher’s corral and you will find that I am quite happy, indeed.

So I am now looking forward to being very busy over the coming months—prepping my novel, re-jigging my Postcards books, working on my next WIP—and, of course, telling you all about it.


  1. Congratulations - that's great news!

  2. Interesting! As you know I have just gone down the e-book line, albeit without a publisher. There's some poor stuff on the e-book circuit, I hope the good stuff surfaces. I've not too much chance being a novice but you never know. Good luck.

    1. Hi Ken! There is a lot a bad stuff out there (and a lot of good stuff, but none of that matters; you've got the same chance as the next guy. The main thing is to keep in there and keep swinging.

  3. Mrs Baum2:02 pm

    Congratulations; that's great to hear. And luckily I've just downloaded Kindle for pc onto my/our ipad(well actually it's Pete's work's ipad, but he's not using it that much so it's kind of slowly becoming mine if I keep really quiet about it), so that's handily ready for reading said new book. I'll look forward to it. Very pleased for you.

    1. Thanks! I do have plans to get a paperback version of the book out, for those people who are still living in 2009 ;)