The Economics of Indie Publishing- Chris Nuttall

The Economics of Indie Publishing- Chris Nuttall

I was on a panel with Chris Kennedy and a couple of others discussing the economics of indie publishing. These are my conclusions.

There’s a general rule in traditional publishing that the money should always flow downhill to the writer. If you’re being asked to pay for anything, once you get picked up by a publisher or agent, you’re being conned. Editing? Cover design? Formatting? Promotional material? The publisher should pay for all of those – and if he doesn’t, something is very badly wrong.

However, this isn’t actually true of independent publishing. Certainly, as before, the writing is the author’s work, but there’s no publisher to pay for all the other items (or, for that matter, to find them.) The author has to meet those costs himself, unless he can do the tasks for himself. (I know authors who can do cover designs, but I haven’t met a single author who could edit himself successfully.)

In these cases, the author needs to budget – and pay for these items as a lump sum.

General Advice

Before you start hiring anyone to do anything, sort out the terms. You will need:

-Cost. How much is it going to cost you? I’ll try to give a set of basic figures in the more specific sections, but everyone has different figures.

-How. How are they going to do it?

-Payment method. How do you pay? I normally use PayPal; check this first, because it is quite embarrassing not to be able to pay. Do they want to be paid in a lump sum or in instalments?

-Time. How long will it take? What happens if they can’t produce the service/item in a given space of time?

-Rights. What rights to use the material do you get?

-Credit. How much credit do they want?

Editing

There are, in my opinion, two different categories of editing.

First, you have the conceptual edit, which covers everything from plot holes (just why do you have magically binding contracts enforced in your universe when someone didn’t actually agree to the contract?) to how the plotline shapes out (that’s a Deus Ex Machina) and continuity notes (you killed this character in the last book). Having someone read your book with a fresh eye is perhaps the only way you’ll catch these errors before the reviewers do.

Second, you have the line-edit. This basically covers spelling, grammar and everything else.

Editors vary wildly, both in cost and performance. Any editor who’s been in the field for a while should have a handful of authors willing to give a reference. (Ask for names or samples of their work.) A basic conceptual edit should cost between $100-$200, although costs can rise steeply if the editor has to read a handful of prequel books first. (If you don’t have the money, try finding another author and trading reads.) A line-edit can cost between $300 and $900. (Editors, in my experience, tend to raise their prices if the manuscript is riddles with errors.)

You’re paying, in a sense, for a private review of your work. The conceptual editor should not pull any punches – and you don’t want to encourage him to go lightly on you. Listen to the editor, then decide for yourself if their suggestions are valid or not. Even if you think the editor is wrong, it’s good to take another look at a weak section.

Editors, in my experience, don’t normally want to be credited in any way.

Cover Design

A book should not be judged by its cover – but the plain truth is that most books are judged by their covers. Getting a cover, unless you’re an artist yourself, can be daunting or expensive. However, there are some reasonable shortcuts.

-Stock Photos. Sites like ISTOCKPHOTO offer thousands of images, ranging from very basic drawings to outright space battles.  Purchase a copy, place your title, name and tagline on the front, then upload it to kindle. (Hint; make sure your image fits the kindle requirements.) Prices, again, can vary; I’ve purchased images at prices from $30 to $100.

However, there can be two problems. First, you may not find anything suited to your needs and, second, someone else may use the same cover. (This has happened to me).

-Artists. If you don’t mind spending a bit more money and waiting longer, you can hire an artist to design the cover for you. Prices can, of course, vary sharply; I’ve had artists charge minimal prices in exchange for the exposure and artists who wanted full price ($500-$1000). For this, you need a contract (or at least a stated agreement); you want permanent, exclusive and comprehensive rights to the artwork.

(By comprehensive rights, I mean you want to be able to use it as a book cover, CD cover, promotional artwork and anything else, without either referring to the artist or having to pay royalties over the long term.)

If you’re strapped for cash, try browsing an artist website and looking for someone willing to draw a basic cover for relatively little money.

The artists I’ve worked with have asked for cover concepts, then drawn sketches for me to approve before they started the serious work. Feel free to make the concepts as detailed as possible; remember, the artist has to work from what you tell him. Also, make sure the author understands requirements for kindle and other self-publishing platforms. It’s no good getting a spectacular piece of artwork when it can’t be uploaded onto the web.

DO NOT be afraid to raise objections or ask for alterations. You’re the one putting the book online.

Artists generally want to be credited as the artist and to have the right to host copies of the artwork as samples of their work. You should agree to this – free advertising <grin>.

Online Promotions

Now you’ve got your book online, you want to promote it – and, being an author, you will get emails advertising various services that promise to promote books.

Unfortunately, my general observation is that such services aren’t really worth the money you spend on them. I’ve tried a couple and I didn’t notice any real jump in sales. My strong advice would be to refrain from using any paid service.

Facebook does offer a paid promotional service, but again – I haven’t noticed any improvement in sales coming from using it.

Generally, it’s better to build up a presence on the net using free spaces – Facebook, a blog, twitter, etc – but be careful not to let yourself be sucked into spending all your time on the net! However, it’s worth investing in a domain name and a website; prices for these, of course, are very variable.

Paid Book Reviews

No. Don’t even think about it.

Yes, there are sites out there that promise thousands of 5-star reviews for an author willing to shell out. Some of them even actually do it. But …

It’s dishonest, it’s easy to spot, it will undermine the review system and it will utterly destroy your reputation. Trust me on this; don’t do it.

Conclusion

Ideally, you want to get more money out of indie publishing than you’re putting in. Keep decent accounts, work out what’s costing you time and money (and don’t forget to put money aside for taxes, as this is generally taxable income.) See what works, see what doesn’t work and …

Good luck!

66 responses to “The Economics of Indie Publishing- Chris Nuttall

  1. Mark Thompson

    How would a person advertise his services to authors as a line-editor?

    • Um… I’ve been thinking of starting a page.

      • Christopher

        Just think of all the extra “help” if you crowd source it…

      • I think it would be nice to curate a list of people that can be trusted with good references. Only it might be better at Mad Genius?

      • reddragonhawk

        That would be very helpful.

      • I still don’t know how to make a comment as opposed to a reply to a comment.

        I make quite a lot of money on self-published books, and I find your analysis very much i9n accord with my expediences. Of course I started off reasonably well known, which gave me a pretty good head start; the best single way to sell a book on line is to have it show up in “people who bought this book also bought”.

        One publishing note you neglected: having an agent actually publish the book. In my case Eleanor Wood (actually she saw to it that her kids learned how and operate that part of the agency unless she needs to be in the picture) does the creation of the final mss,; I still do the proof reading final as I always do galley slavery, but they are pretty clean. Now why pay 15% of the revenue for something I can do and have done? After all you can’t tell which of my eBooks are self-published and which are published by Spectrum. In this case, some of the works were originally sold by Lurton Blassingame (who founded Spectrum) and I felt an ethical obligation (not contractual; I have an old-fashioned handshake agreement). And partly because I can get some advice and publicity from her agency; and partly because it’s a lot of work getting the books ready for publication and I;m getting old enough to avoid scut work. But I will say that 15% is the maximum you should pay for getting the whole nine yards, scanning, formatting into various electronic formats and getting it posted, line editing, and all the rest of what publishers used to do.

        Of course if you get a big enough advance it’s a different story. A big advance makes its own publicity, and excuses a lot of contract fooferaw that would not otherwise be acceptable. How much is BIG depends on your prior history and just how good the publishing house is.

        I wonder if advertising your availability as an editor in Locus would be worth while? I haven’t had an outside editor since we paid Jim Baen to do a polish edit of Lucifer’s Hammer (I think he was at Ace which didn’t publish the book because they couldn’t afford it). That was long ago. And of course I knew what Jim could do because he was editor of Galaxy Mag when I was Science columnist,

  2. Chris, that’s interesting, because the numbers you have for line-editing (also known as proof editing or copy-edits) is almost exactly opposite what I have been quoted for a structural editor. They tend to be more expensive than a typo-catcher.

    Which paid promo services did you use? I haven’t tried Bookbub, but have been experimenting with some of the smaller services.

    • I had a similar experience to yours, Cedar. Copy (line)edits seem to be about 2X style/concept edits at the places I’ve priced.

    • I think at least in part it’s a question of perceived value. A lot of folks believe that the embedded spell/grammar checker in MS Word does a good enough job by itself. They are sadly mistaken, that app is an idiot, but the perception limits what someone can reasonably ask for a copy edit job.
      A structural edit OTOH requires either an accomplished author or a very knowledgeable reader with the skill to identify major plot or continuity errors and hopefully suggest fixes. To the typical writer that feels like a much bigger deal.
      Truth is both are necessary for the completion of a finished polished product.

      • Speaking as an editor (contractor through an academic editing company, line-edits only although they have people offering other services), I think I have to acknowledge that editing for structure and content is a bigger deal in the sense of being a more specialized and advanced service, although — depending on the state of the manuscript and the author’s skills in different areas — the copy edit might be more work.

        I can line-edit papers in a considerably wider variety of fields than I can critique the content. The average author can, I imagine, probably find a larger number of people who can find mechanical errors or smooth out sentence structure than who can find continuity errors or suggest ways to smooth out the story structure — especially who can not only do that last but also perceive and respect what the author was trying to do rather than getting caught up in how they would have done it.

        So I can see why that would seem like a bigger deal, even though I would also like to discourage people from undervaluing their copy-editors. *grin*

        • It seems to me that the differences between the two types of editors might be expressed by following thought experiment:

          Send a manuscript to ten different line editors and you should get back pretty much the same document corrections from each.

          Send a manuscript to ten different structure editors and you should get back six (at least) different sets of structural recommendations — some of which will significantly improve the readability of the text, some of which will seriously weaken it.

          Line editing probably involves more basic work, but structural editing offers more value added. If a book is entertaining most of us will shrug off the types of errors caught by a copy editor but nobody ever put down a book and said “I’ve no idea what that was about, but my, wasn’t it nicely edited! Not a grammatical, spelling or punctuation error in it!”

          • Well, certainly the purpose of a copy editor’s work is ultimately to be transparent. You shouldn’t be able to tell whether an author got a good copy editor or just didn’t goof in the first place.

            • I think a good structural editor’s work should also be transparent; the purpose is to bring out the author’s style, not impose the editor’s.

              My thought experiment was intended to reflect that there is a fundamental difference between the skills being applied, such that they ought not be both labeled as “editing.” One is equivalent to polishing a gem while the other is more like cutting it.

              • Yes, you’re right, any editor’s work should ideally be transparent — I got slightly distracted by the line about how nobody finishes a book and goes “Wow, that didn’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes in it.” (Amusingly, people actually leave this kind of comment on fanfic on a moderately regular basis.)

                But yes, they’re very different functions. I think whether they’re both called editing actually varies somewhat. You might have an early reader go over the rough draft (or even outline) and tell you if some pieces aren’t making sense to them, or get critique from a writer’s group, without necessarily considering them to have provided editing services. At any rate, if you’re going to offer or purchase a paid service, it is very important to clarify whether the two of you are talking about the same thing.

                • Kinda on topic: I giggled madly at a book review excoriating a piece of fiction as “typical indie, all the grammatical errors, bad formatting, stay away from this writer’s stuff until they get a real publisher.” One problem . . . the book was from a Big 5 imprint. (I wish I’d saved the review, because it got scrubbed when the ‘Zon was cleaning out a bunch of the sock-puppet reviews and generally tidying up.)

          • No but they certainly will notice the lack of copy editing. Bad spelling, bad grammar, bad formatting, bad paragraphing, all cause breaks in reader empathy; your goal is to make the reader forget that he is reading a book, and anything that reminds him of that undermines the reading experience,

            Of course if there is no empathy in the first place you can’t break it with bad formatting, but you can either do that already or you should not be committing publication.

      • Terry Sanders

        “A lot of folks believe that the embedded spell/grammar checker in MS Word does a good enough job by itself. ”

        Once upon a time I tried to offer a copy-editing service at nearby colleges. I put out some flyers with the following heading:

        Doe yew tryst year spill chucker?

        MS Word thought that was a perfectly good sentence…

        • Your grammar checker hates you and wants to make you look like an idiot.

          Your spell checker, too, though it’s gotten better at hiding it over the years.

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  4. I tried an inexpensive book promotion site, and saw no real jump in sales. I hear Bookbub does well, but they’re also picky about what they promote (which might be why it does so well). The other services? Yeah, I’m just going to keep my money in my pocket.

    I kind of wish Amazon had some way to see how people found our books, so we’d really have better data for this kind of thing.

    • Christopher

      My friends and I have simply found authors by lookin’ around the site. Keywords and such. I honestly can’t think of another way I’ve come across a new author other than by purposely looking.

      Well, there IS another way, but it involves having a literary award seemingly blow up in your face and play havoc with childhood memories.

    • Randy Wilde

      Word of mouth (or blog), often. I started reading Sarah Hoyt’ s books (and coming here) after an Instalanche. From here, I’ve checked out other authors based on recommendations.

      The Amazon forums often have sale and recommendation threads, but self promoting is not welcome there, except in one specific forum.

      • Self promotion sucks.

        And yes, I’m only saying because I suck at it.

        • I suck at it, also, mostly because when I see it done badly and usually against the rules of the particular forum, I get embarrassed and don’t want to be that person. But every once in a while, something comes up and I get sales and links all over.

        • It is probably my weakest link. I can’t really do in-person sales. I’m not certain where to look at buying ads because of genre problems (and budget), and I hate pestering people “pssst, buddy, wanna buy a book?” And while I’d like to do BookBub and a few others, you need X number of reviews, and I don’t have enough sales to get enough reviews to be able to advertise to get more . . . *insert image of hamster on wheel here*

          • I have been tempted to try and start some sort of ‘indy press’ the primary function of which would be to try and cross promote everyone who was a member.
            You know get a website for it, a ‘badge’ to put on the books, possibly set a few minor standards to make sure we had some basic level of quality, and hopefully even be a support group for each other.
            We could even do things like put out an anthology two or three times a year, with a couple of name authors to highlight it, and then some of the other members in it to get some exposure.
            The problem is that I suck at admin stuff, and it would take a fair amount of admin work.

            • Not very good, myself. What we really all need, of course, is word of mouth. I try to review the indies I like.

              • Well I put an ‘advertisement’ page at the end of my books. I list my other books there. I would love to work out an agreement with a few other authors where they’d all show one book of mine, and I’d show one of theirs. Hopefully something enough like what I wrote, that my readers would like it, and vice-versa.
                Which is the idea behind a website, to help readers find similar works by similar authors. That is the reason we have a BAEN imprint and a TOR imprint, or a DAW imprint.
                I just want to try and do the same thing, so we can (hopefully) help each other out with finding new readers.

                • I’d be agreeable to that kind of plan – a kind of extension to the meme of ‘every single one of your books are a recommendation to all your other books.’

                • Goodreads does that, sort of; it has a lot of “if you like this because of this, this and this, you might like that” type content. (Which actually makes it better than algorithms, which only work if the reason you liked it has enough overlap with others who liked it.)

                  • I’ve had a little luck putting my stuff in “self-promotion” folders of groups I frequent.

            • I think that’s a good idea, John. But I also think it would be extremely difficult to do. Time limitations being one of the big problems.

        • That’s not a problem that only applies to authors. (“So tell me, why do you deserve a raise?”)

  5. The simple fact of the matter is that when an author decides to go indie they must realize that they are choosing to become their own publishing company. It’s a company of one, with many of the functions done in house and some subcontracted out.
    Authors of my acquaintance generally have first and beta readers who provide the structural editing spoken of. Typically, first reads tend to be rougher drafts and may be chapter by chapter. When John Ringo was getting started he would post “snippets” of work in progress in the Bar and solicit feedback. A beta reader usually gets a complete work making it easier to parse the entire book for continuity and consistency.
    First and beta readers tend to be friends and family, so generally no money changes hands though I do suspect that Cedar’s first reader is quite handsomely rewarded for his work.
    There is a phenomenon common to writers that I think of as being too close to your work. You knew what you meant so that’s what your eyes see on the page instead of what you actually wrote. There are cute tricks to overcome this, anything from putting it away for a couple of weeks and coming back at it fresh, to simply reading the work backwards, but really a fresh and knowledgeable new set of eyes is best. A professional copy editor is probably money well spent. And should you find a competent one willing to work pro bono treasure that person beyond price.
    Truth is, when an author contracts with a publisher they agree to become an indentured servant. Their master may be kind and caring, Baen, or cruel and untrustworthy, just about anybody else. With indie you remain your own boss, sink or swim by your own skill and hard work, but always your own master. Scary thing that, and not for everyone.

  6. Art sources, ah yes. I’ve used Dreamstime, which can range very useful to flippin frustrating, depending on what elements and genre-look you need. I’ve used e-lance, which is an internet-based hiring site for all kinds of freelancers. I was quite pleased with what I got there, although you do have to be careful about references and absolutely clear communication. IndieBookLauncher does covers, and Anita Young did the cover of _Through Flood and Flame_ and is working on another short-story set cover.

    • Dollar Photo Club is quite good, although if you only want a few cover images you must remember to cancel. I’ve got a list of sources somewhere if you want them.

  7. Jeff Duntemann

    The border between writing and editing is fuzzy. Don’t use an editor as an excuse for careless writing, or for reluctance to spend the effort required to learn the mechanics of the language. Paid editors vary widely in how many mistakes they find, or in what sorts of mistakes they find and what sorts they miss. The fewer mistakes you make to begin with, the less likely they are to end up in your published edition.

    All this cooks down to a personal conviction of mine: Writers should learn how to edit. They should especially study grammar, so that they won’t be vulnerable to bad advice from whackjobs like Stephen King, and end up avoiding all those horrible “-ly” words (up to and including “only” and “early”) for no reason. Sentence diagramming sounds silly, but it’s amazing how much clarity it can bring to sentence construction. (Among the many underappreciated benefits of attending Catholic grade school from 1958-1966, that’s been the most useful to me by far.)

    My heuristic is this: You should spend two thirds of your allocated author time writing, and one third editing and polishing. I may just be weird, or it may be because I made my living as an editor for 25 years, but I *love* editing, and sometimes have to whack myself aside the head to make myself stop. This is not a problem I’ve seen in too many other people.

    • I confess, I make my living as an editor now but do not really have to force myself to stop it with my (admittedly hobby-only) fiction. 🙂 On the other hand, I don’t really separate the writing and editing processes cleanly in my own work, which probably makes calculating relative timeframes tricky to impossible.

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  9. Just remember …


    Let’s keep those puppies happy!

  10. Editors, in my experience, tend to raise their prices if the manuscript is riddles with errors.

    I know you probably meant “riddled,” but I like this one. 😀

  11. I really need to improve my advertising. I’m at the point where I think I’d be willing to pay someone, if I knew someone who could give good results. I got about 8K sales on one book with about a $100 – $200 dollar advertising budget, but I need to move on to new advertising areas to get more sales and I have no idea of how to do that.
    I also need to make up new adverts, and I’m at the point where I really hate making those as well. Advertising is the one thing I really hate doing as an indy, I’m not very good at self-promotion, it’s very difficult for me to do.

    • Many people shrink from self-promotion but are excellent at promoting an author or work they like. Perhaps the solution is for folks to trade promotional efforts/tasks with one another?

      Obviously this requires a genuine enthusiasm for the person/work you are promoting, and leaves open the risk of “I pushed your book much harder than you pushed mine” arguments … as well as the risk of “I really intended to promote your book but the kids got measles, I got dysentery, the house burnt down and space aliens invaded” guilt.

      • I wouldn’t mind some kind of cooperative effort like this…

        • Maybe a monthly Books-Around-the-Blogs series? We pick a day, swap blog links, and each give reviews and pushes of books that we read recently and especially enjoyed or found useful?

          • That would work … I’ll have to set about reading the Huns’ books, though — and my own shelves and Kindle are piled already with toppling stacks…

    • Joe Vasicek

      Yeah, that’s the rub: how to put your books in front of readers who haven’t heard of them before, who don’t know it yet but are looking for exactly that kind of book. SF&F readers are also different from readers of other genres in how they find new writers, how they respond to ads, etc.

      For what it’s worth, I started a thread over on KBoards where we’ve been discussing this exact question. Lots of interesting comments on the subject, some of them quite helpful:

      http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,215826.0.html

  12. There is an outfit near “Home Base East” called http://publishingwithkindle.com who has been sending me a fair amount of Email. The material published on the website seems interesting, but not clear to me what is in it for each party involved.

  13. Thanks for running this guest post. I’ve read all available installments of Chris’s “The Empire’s Corps” series, which I highly recommend to any MilSciFi fan, or to anybody who wonder what the Foundation Trilogy might have looked like if John Ringo or Tom Kratman had written it 🙂

    • Laura Montgomery

      Chris is on my list. I am about half way through David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, and will probably need more MilSF when I’m done.

  14. I’m amazed that some authors apparently hire an editor and expect that absolves them of any effort to improve their grammar or spelling. It the last ten years my copy has become much cleaner because I’m not living in a friggin’ haze. I pay attention to what is edited. To the point my earliest stuff is a bit embarrassing. After I finish the current WIP for the Family Law series and the current April series book I’m going to go back and correct April #2 – “Down to Earth”. It probably doesn’t make economic sense but I’ll feel better.

    • My goal is to get to the point where I won’t need an editor anymore.
      I realize that is probably never going to happen, you always need someone to check your work, but I need to have a goal to work to, if I want my grammar and other such things to improve.

      So when I get my edited copy back, I resolve each of the issues myself, because I want to improve. Also there are cases where I won’t go with what my editor suggested (usually it’s dialogue, though sometimes it’s a style issue – which is rare. Also, I like to use single quotes for things I want to ‘stand out’ and my editor always wants to make those doubles), so again, I learn when I’m ‘breaking’ a rule and understand why.

    • Mackey, as one who uses a copy and (very light) style editor, I have two problems. 1) Even if I print everything out,and change fonts and size-on-screen, I can’t see all the typos and errors. 2) I miss word associations and regionalisms that jump out at other readers. Even my beta readers sometimes miss those. I’ve gotten better over the past ten years or so, much better, but those two things still trip me up. Not everyone has that kind of trouble, and some people like you can improve to the point where they don’t need a Wrigley-Field sized backstop. I need it. *resigned sigh*

    • “I’m going to go back and correct April #2 – “Down to Earth”. It probably doesn’t make economic sense but I’ll feel better.”

      Maybe, maybe not. That is the first book of yours I read, and I noticed the ‘problems’ in it, but the story was good enough I glided over them and it didn’t stop me from picking up the others in the series. I recently reread it, when I read the last three to come out, I started at the beginning and reread the series, this time the ‘problems’ didn’t bother me (in fact I hardly noticed them, but recalled noticing them the first time I read it) because I ‘knew’ what was going on and I suspect rereads are somewhat similar to an author reading their own book, you see what you know is supposed to be there.
      On the other hand, I have read other authors where I never bothered to try another one of their books, because editing problems threw me out of the first one I tried enough to disinterest me in others. And there is at least one author around here (no names mentioned) who has published their last couple books with, I swear, NO proof reading. If I hadn’t previously read their other works, I would have never picked up another one of their books if their recent ones were my first introduction to them. Which is a shame, because, storywise their recent books are the best they have written.

      Bottom line, I may never bother to upload a ‘corrected’ version of Down To Earth, but if you plan on using it as a promo copy, again, (how I got introduced to you, you had it for free her on Sarah’s promo post) I would recommend going back through it. Otherwise it likely isn’t worth it, because if it isn’t someone’s introduction to your work, well, the problems simply aren’t that bad.

  15. I have to agree with TXRed, I have the same problem. I do use experts when I’m writing specific sequences that are outside my knowledge base, and I also use an editor for copy and style. The problem is NO ONE can possibly catch all the glitches, errors, extra spaces (grew up on typewriters, STILL hit 2 spaces after period). I also use both alpha and beta readers, usually the alphas get at least 1/2 of the book to start. My other problem is 40 years of writing tech reports, where punctuation isn’t a graded object! 🙂 Thanks for this and some good advice provided, and I’ll take the info and see what I can do to make myself better.

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  17. If you think you can learn to spot all your errors yourself, check out “You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.” The memoir of a New Yorker editor who, after 30 years on the job, still admits to letting mistakes through.

    After 22 years myself on a copy desk, I have concluded that the best I can do, if I work hard, is to fail at a higher level. Catch all the spelling errors and most of the grammar errors, but write “Sun Also Rises” instead of “The Sun Also Rises.” The kind of errors that would bug me, but not most of the readers.

    This was an excellent post, BTW. I have no quibble with it.

    Moving on, I would also recommend that an author should get a website. It will be the one place, so long as you pay the bills, where you control the content, and which will not go away unless you decide to take it down. Writers who built their presence on MySpace will understand why.

    • Yes – and make it a domain name that is your name or pen-name, so that anyone can find it by putting your name into a search engine.

  18. As an artist (3d) i can tell you, if the cover prominently features a ship, esp matching a description in your text, you’ll need to make sure they aren’t going to re-use the model in another project.

    • this is me, checking a box.

    • A friend of mine (Lisanne Norman) was very unhappy with one of the covers on one of her books, but the publisher over-ruled her. She found out a while later that the reason the artist had done the cover the way he had, was so he could re-sell it to Larry Niven for his German release of a different novel.
      Same exact cover art.
      The publisher was not pleased.

      When I have a cover commissioned, it is ‘work for hire’ that means -I- own the rights, not the artist. If they don’t like that, I won’t do business with them.

      • I’m not even talking about the specific artwork, I’m talking about the items in it. Like, for instance, the ship on Peter Grant’s first two Maxwell Saga titles are pretty distinctive. If i saw them in something else i’d know them.

        (and yes, i know exactly how hard making a detailed-looking ship for print is…)