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  1. #1
    action adventure writer

    urgent--advice needed please

    I am in need of some professional advice and was told to come here by a writing acquaintance who reads a lot of publishing advice forums.

    I am the Author of an action adventure novel (83,000 words) that has been made an offer on by a publisher in New York. The offer is for $15,000 and includes the rights, including North America. My agent who is based in Washington, DC, and is not a New York based agent is very aggressively lobbying me to accept this offer. I met this agent at a conference in Oregon and this agent is otherwise very reputable and does not charge fees.

    However the agent is being very pushy with me about it and I am very confused. I understand that the agent is planning to take fifteen cents out of every dollar I earn and that this might be the motivation. I am very confused and feel I need to step back a moment and consider ALL of my options, without this agent breathing down my back.

    My friend who recomended I come here and ask about other alternatives. I understand that if I go POD I will have to pay NO agent fees whatsoever. I also understand that agent fees are illegal in New York but not Washington. I am afraid of being ripped off and having no recourse because of the state I live in, and because I will have then signed all of my rights over to strangers, who will then change my title (this is what others have told me) or maybe even change the cover from the one I have drawn (I have a degree in graphic arts.)

    Am I being taken in by these people in Washington and New York to lose all my rights? I am very frightened. Other people have advised me that if I accept the $15,000 advanced and the book does not sell enough to "earn it out," I MIGHT NEVER SEE ANOTHER PENNY FROM MY WORK.

    I have been aware of the POD alternative for a long time. My friend asked me to come here and ask those of you who are experienced in it. I was given a list of companies; First Books Library; Iuniverse; PubAmerica; and Xlibris. I understand that if I go with one of these I will retain all of my rights, royalties and profits, that I will have to pay nothing to the agent, that my book will be available outside North America at no extra charge, that my cover and title will remain as I indicate.

    Also I have been told that all of the big names like John Grisham started with POD and that is why they are rich today, because they weren't under the control of agents who were interested only in a cut. If I sell my story through the self publishing, I will then have a tract record and can go to the big New York publishers, including the one who is offering the low $15,000 in "advance," and negotiate a much more feasible and realistic deal for the book, and get it into the stores as a hardcover or even a mass market paperbook (safeway, Rite-Aid, Thrifty, the airports, ect.). This is the way that Stephen King is publishing today. The Authors who want to be bestsellers do not actually deal with the agents; they make their own deals and they do POD.

    I have also heard horror stories from my friend of agents dumping Authors when the books do not become bestsellers, or even of Publishers doing the same. I do not want to take a low-ball and then get dumped and feel that everything is out of my control.

    At this point, with the agent telling me I will have to change my title and cover and sign over all rights including North America, I really feal like I am getting so screwed over, and I am so angry at myself for letting myself get sweet talked by that agent at the conference. I have heard another horror story that states that just because a New York publisher has made you sign a contract, they can still sit on your novel for six months before publishing and POD can have it in available through online and bricker and morter stores within the matter of mere weeks.

    I have not signed anything yet with the publishers, and if a check comes to my house on the low offer, even if it is registered mail I understand I can have it returned. But now I am wondering if I should take the check, because POD is risky if you get in with the wrong self-publishers. Which one is the best and not apt to rip off your rights? Are any of these horror stories true or am I just being a big chickenheart? Should I get a book attorney? How good are the ones who work for the PODs?

    Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated. I live on the west Coast so I feel very separated from the doings in New York. Is there a good POD here in the West with trustworthy people? Or am I being a total fool for even considering this, and should take the lowball offer and run and just cross my fingers and hope the book will skyrocket aross the bestseller lists when it does come out? Which is the better way to go? The 15K would be money in the bank I suppose but I have had big money before and have spent it fast. Then what would I be left with if my rights are gone too? What is best in my situation?

    Thank you!

  2. #2

    Re: urgent--advice needed please

    Trust your agent. If you're serious about a career in writing, do not second guess an agent who managed to sell your work to an advance-paying publisher. The fifteen percent an agent charges is paltry compared to the work s/he does on your behalf. I seriously doubt that most best selling authors don't have agents...they do. I believe John Grisham's books have been around longer than POD technology. You're most fortunate to have found a reputable agent who has found a buyer for your book. In stead of harboring doubts, you should be popping champaigne corks.

  3. #3
    Marc Phoenix

    Re: urgent--advice needed please

    Hi! First of all, what is your name? What is your Pen name?

    Anyway, I've heard these questions asked many times but you are the first that actually has a contract in front of you with a sizeable 'advance'. Do you go with a Publishing company that will own ALL your rights, though you will get a few thousand dollars or do you continue to shop your story and even entertain other alternative publishing techniques? The answer is simple once you are honest with yourself. Hopefully you have a good paying job so money won't be a factor in your decision but if you don't I can see you swaying towards the 'advance' contract.

    As you can tell I could be biased in my thoughts because I'm with PublishAmerica. I did not receive a $15,000 advance but then again, I OWN the rights of my story and since I've been corted by movie production companies and comic book companies I'm glad that I do!

    Marc Phoenix
    Then again, I have a very good day job and therefore I'm not blinded by the lust for money!

  4. #4

    Re: urgent--advice needed please

    Agree wholeheartedly with Kaz on this one. A 15 percent agent fee is standard and a $15,000 advance is extremely good. And no, Grisham didn't start off in POD and he didn't make that big pile of dough until he was being published traditionally.

    The only way to make money off of POD or self-publishing is to have a book that could have sold well traditionally anyway and, on top of that, to be extremely savvy about the world of publishing and how to sell books.

    Sorry, AAW, but you don't sound even minimally savvy about the world of publishing. If I were you, I'd run gleefully into the arms of my agent and new publisher. Go another route and you'll surely be eaten alive by what you don't know.

  5. #5
    Chris Graham

    I second that motion

    Listen to Kaz, she knows what's she's talking about.

    Just to clear up a few things:

    If you publish POD you will basically be shutting the door on any opportunity to ever republish that book through a traditional publisher. There are exceptions, of course, but few and far between. One thing you never mentioned is that YOU get to foot the bill for the POD process. You may feel the above stated advance is low, but keep in mind the publisher is picking up the production tab, not the other way around.

    Grisham doesn't use POD. Do a search in these forums and you'll find a very enlightening report from Gary Kessler that details what Grisham went through to get his first book published.

    Technically, some of Stephen King's books are printed almost like a POD publisher would. Anytime you see one of his books printed that's not a hardcover, but not a mass market paperback (Wizard's and Glass comes to mind) I forget what you call those 'large' paperbacks, he uses an independent printer. Of course King has a large enough fan base that he can do that.


  6. #6

    Re: I second that motion

    Sorry but I would take a contract with ANY major pub, no matter the advance...it is the only way to get respect, in my opinion.
    Sure, go with a POD and make a few hundred dollars (like I did)...and then pine away for a tradtional publisher!
    Or maybe you will get lucky and attract an even better offer from a tradtional publisher.
    I may never be lucky enough to obtain an offer from one of the majors, but my goal to do so will never change. If you browse the top 100 selling books at any given time, they are ALL from the majors...and I would be wager a guess that the next hundred or so are as well...

  7. #7
    Roy Abrahams

    Re: I second that motion

    Someone is looking a gift horse in the mouth. Worst of all, they are doing it after learning what to look for from persons having little to offer of value. Another analogy would be the blind leading the blind. Take the advance and try to accept that you are fortunate; none of the worries you expressed are worth holding onto.

  8. #8
    J. Knight

    Re: I second that motion

    You have a terrific offer in front of you. A $15,000 advance is excellent for a new author.

    Your agent should negotiate theatrical rights. Typically, a publisher will get 10% of whatever money you are paid for film rights.

    I won't say to "trust your agent" because I don't know him/her. But the 15% commission is standard and well worth it.

    There is no way you're going to make $15,000 with a subsidy press. And...what is the point of "owning" your story if you never license the rights? At some point you have to sell it to make money!

    Chris Graham: I'm going to disagree with you when you say, "If you publish POD you will basically be shutting the door on any opportunity to ever republish that book through a traditional publisher." That just isn't the case, in my experience, but I'd like to hear if you have experience to the contrary.


  9. #9

    Re: I second that motion

    Take the advance. Someone above said they were published with Publish America and they were insinuating that they had a better deal because they had all their rights. That's baloney. And I can just about guarentee that the majority of POD published books will never see $15,000. And you know what one of the good things is with an advance? It's yours to keep. Even if, God forbid, you don't sell enough books to pay back the advance and start earning royaltys you keep the advance. It's yours!!!

  10. #10
    Marc Phoenix

    Re: I second that motion


    That 'Someone above' is me, MARC PHOENIX! I did not insinuate that I had a better deal. A 'better deal' is dependent upon what the Author's goals are.

    By the way, you obviously haven't done your hoemwork concerning me. Just do a simple search of me and or my book 'Tashar: City of Mystery' and you'll find that I have quite the leverage and understanding of this publishing business than most who are published from the Big Houses!

    Marc Phoenix

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