In which Marni and Diana talk about the process and benefits of working with a traditional publisher verse the effort and benefits that goes into self-publishing.
During this episode, we promised to give you a crib sheet of industry language we use routinely in our authoring lives that will help you understand what you're getting into a little better with traditional publishing:
- Frontlist - Generally speaking, your book is "frontlist" from the time it is newly released until it is available for purchase for roughly six months or so.
- Backlist - Books on the "backlist" are all of the books a publisher has produced that are still available for purchase but are no longer recent enough to be "frontlist." An author's "backlist" is their existing published books available for purchase that predate their current book that they are promoting.
- “Nothing sells backlist like front list.” This is a truth universally acknowledged in the book world. It basically means that having a reader discover your new book often leads to them purchasing other books that you could easily have written and published years ago. It’s also used as a reminder to stay focused on the next writing project and not to get too bogged down by reviews/promotion/industry gossip.
- Big Five - In the United States, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. They were the "Big Six" publishers until Penguin and Random House merged in July 2013. (Marni still wishes that the merger had created Random Penguin because c’mon, how freaking cute would that be?!)
- Imprint or Line - A publisher's imprint or their line is a trade name under which the publisher publishes a book. A single publishing company may have multiple imprints. Imprints are often used to differentiate books into branded lines to make marketing easier.
For example, Harlequin is the name of a publishing company, but they have many different imprints (or lines) for their books. Harlequin Superromance focuses on powerful romances that pack an emotional punch. Harlequin Teen focuses on young adult fiction. Harlequin Medical Romance focuses on dedicated heroes and heroines who fall in love while saving lives. These three very different book lines all belong to a single publishing company.
- Endcap - In retail stores, an endcap is a display for a product placed at the end of an aisle.
- Front-facing - In retail stores, when certain books are turned toward the face the aisle, with their entire cover showing, not just their spine.
- Lists - Generally speaking, these are industry "best-selling" lists that show what books, from week to week, are selling the most copies. Some notable lists are USA Today Best Sellers List and the New York Times Bestsellers List.
- Work-for-hire - Usually this means that a publisher knows what kind of book they want written and then offer you a contract to write it. Work-for-hire books tend to be for a flat fee with very little room to negotiate for a higher payment. They also usually don’t include a percentage of royalties to be paid to the author. It’s a one and done type arrangement. Sometimes the publisher even stipulates the use of their own pen name for the book.
- Advance - Traditionally published books often (but not always) includes a monetary payment up front. That’s often referred to as your advance on royalties because you will not be given any more money from the publisher until you sell enough copies to have earned that same amount in royalties. A process that is called earning out.
This episode was written and recorded by Marni Bates and Diana Rosengard.
This episode edited by Diana Rosengard.
Our theme song is "Jazz Cafe" by Jam Morgan, used under Creative Commons license, from www.taketones.com.
"I Make Words (And So Can You!)" is a Snoozletime Media production, a division of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Publishing, LLC.