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Episode 33: The Publishing Contract

November 6, 2012

It was mid-july 2011. We had given our manuscript to an editor/ghostwriter and had just returned from Paris to receive the incorporation records for Magical Matches. There was much work to do.

* We needed to build a team to deliver both the book and the online dating website
* We might need money from an investor
* We certainly needed advice on, well, everything
* We needed a timeline to launch the book and website simultaneously
* We needed a plan to market both the book and website
* We still didn’t have a book contract

One of the first things on the list was to nail down a publishing contract. It has been 5 months since we first met with Steve of White Cloud Press and we still didn’t have a contract even though the dropdead to send the manuscript to the publisher was just 10 weeks away.

So what was so difficult about a book contract anyway? Where was the delay in getting a contract to us coming from?

When we originally met Steve in March 2011, he explained that the publishing world was in huge change. The rise of the e-reader and the invention of self-publishing had disrupted the traditional publishing world. No one knew what role traditional publishers would play in the 21st century, or even if they would survive at all.

In an attempt to adjust, White Cloud had been experimenting with new types of business models. Instead of the conventional contract where a publisher might advance money to an author for a book, WC proposed that authors pay for the book to be published. In return, WC would increase the author’s royalties so that the author could recover his investment after the first printing was sold out.

Of course, this would force the author to carefully evaluate how many copies he thought could be sold as it would likely take more than 2,000 copies to produce enough revenue to return the initial investment. This might be a problem for most authors as the average number of books that an author sells is only around 1000 copies. In our case, we anticipated selling way more than a couple thousand copies, so investing $10,000 in printing the first run in return for changing the royalties from the standard 6% to 50% made excellent business sense.

But we still needed a contract and it hadn’t been forthcoming. Privately, we wondered if the publisher was waiting to see the first round of edits before committing to the project.

But we had to press on. We requested to receive the first draft of the contract by July 31 and they agreed.

Click here for Episode 34: Lunch with a Shark!

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