Common Mistakes Writers Make
Three mistakes authors make as soon as they receive a contract
Many writers believe once they’ve finally been offered a contract from a publisher, they are home free. This could not be further from the truth. Although being extended a publishing deal is exciting, it is important you don’t lose your head and agree to anything. This is the point where you must be alert and ready to work.
When reading through your contract, there are three key areas you MUST pay attention to. Allowing yourself to be lazy here can result in years of frustration. Heed my warning and pay attention. Understanding your royalty breakdown, purchase transactions, and reading the fine print is critical to keeping your sanity.
Research Your Royalty %
Many publishers list their royalty compensation on their websites. This is very important. Often, publishers offer more % if the book is sold through their website (because they do not have to share the profits with a distributor).
Note: If % is less than 10%, be cautious. Typically, publishers keep 60% of your book earnings, and offer book retailers 40%. Authors are paid from the 60% the publisher collects. Do the math. If a book sells for $7.99, the publisher sells the book to a distributor for $3.20 each. The Publisher keeps $4.79. If the author is paid 10%, the royalty earned per book is $0.80. If the book sells well, say sells 5,000 copies within the first year, the author would recoup $3,995, before taxes.
Not much, right? Now you understand why people say writing is a true labor of love. This is why royalty percentage is very important when determining which publisher you should select. Aim for 30-35% whenever possible.
Royalty % differs, depending on the mode transaction. If a book is sold through the publisher’s website, your royalty percentage is higher. If your book is sold through a distributor, your royalty % is lower. Focus on this area of the contract. Have a clear understanding of how much you get paid per book. This is a business after all. You need to know how much you are taking home at the end of the day.
NOTE: An important question to ask upfront is, ‘What is the suggested retail price?’ The price is set by the publisher. You must know the price in order to calculate your royalty %.
If a publisher offered 19% royalty for every book sold through their website but their site is difficult to operate or doesn’t work properly, the royalty % offered is useless. You will be forced to focus on the % offered through distributor transactions.
Read the fine print
If you are fortunate enough to be offered a contract by a publisher, read the fine print! The most important section to read is how to terminate the contract. I tell every new author, be leery of any contract that demands an exclusive deal for a certain time period (i.e. three years).
A popular pitfall most writers make is being overly eager. They are so desperate to get their novel published, they often accept the first contract extended to them; good or bad. Usually, they don’t even recognize a bad contract until after they sign up with the publisher.
You have worked hard on your novel. Don’t get impatient and accept anything offered to you. You owe it to yourself to make a smart decision. This is an investment in your future. Put in the legwork now to avoid being blind-sided later.
-Tiffany Ashley, Author
‘Romance’s Best Kept Secret’
If you found this article helpful please read, How To Grab The Attention Of a Publisher.