Author?

Discussion in 'Business Ideas' started by Zantetsken, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. Zantetsken

    Zantetsken
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    A couple of years ago, a friend and I were thinking about writing and illustrating a childrens' book. Overall, we both thought the idea was kind of cool, but we didn't really know where to start. We kind of came up with a storyline and did some very rough drafts, but we ended up putting it to the side.

    Is this a profitable business? Since we're both inexperienced, the book probably wouldn't be a big hit. Do you think that we might be able to increase our yearly earnings a bit with it if we tried? Or in the worst case scenario, how much money could we lose if we had it published?
     
  2. Nazreen

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    If you ask me, I think that writing and illustrating books can be a profitable business, even if they're just children's books. Do you know who the richest woman in Britain is? She's even richer than the queen herself and she is none other than JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.

    You shouldn't be thinking about the amount of money that you will lose but instead, think about the profit that you'll be able to make if your book becomes a hit. Anyway, if you don't even try it then you would have failed immediately.
     
  3. Fergal

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    It sounds like a great idea.

    As a first step I'd suggest contacting and perhaps meeting with some local book publishers. They will give you an insight into the costs involved and hopefully also an indication of the potential success of your book.

    If you can't locate publishers close to where you live try searching for some on the Internet. Try to speak to a few publishers and get opinions from their previous and current authors before you make any decision.

    Draw up a list of what you require from a good publisher and then look to see which of them can deliver on your key criteria.

    To be honest I would try not to think about the money too much at this stage. I'd be focusing on the creative element and on producing a book that would be most valuable and treasured by your readers. The satisfaction from producing and publishing a quality book that will still be around and enjoyed for many, many years to come, may be worth more to you than any amount of money.

    I haven't read it myself but I've hear that Stephen King's, On Writing book is an excellent read for any aspiring author.

    Go for it, and please post back to let us know how you are progressing.
     
  4. Zantetsken

    Zantetsken
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    Well, I'm just a bit of a negative person; I wouldn't want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed at a crushing failure.


    My main concern would just be to avoid losing money or ending up with a bunch of unsold copies of the book or something. I agree that the process and result of making a book would probably be enjoyable enough for the venture to have been worth while, not to mention the entertainment it could possibly bring to hundreds, or even thousands, of readers. It's just that I'm not too sure how serious we are about it or if I'd be willing to invest money into it... Does anyone happen to know how much a small-time author could make from a book?
     
  5. Nazreen

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    I do agree that not all people can become a JK Rowling or Stephen King. There are some writers who become an instant success when they published their book. There are others who have to wait for a few years before readers start to notice them. There are also some people who are still trying hard to succeed in writing and get their work published.

    Fergal's suggestion of meeting with local publishers is a very good idea. Most publishers have been in the industry for quite some time and might have valuable insights on how you proceed. If you also know of some editors of local papers or tabloids, you can also talk to them and get an opinion. Even your old high school English teacher might have an idea.

    When both of you have decided to write the book, the two of you must also decide in becoming serious about this endeavor. If one or both of you aren't serious, you'll likely to give up half way and not finish writing it.

    I'm not really sure how much a small time author makes from a book. It probably depends on the market and the season. I think that children's books are often salable during holidays and when school starts. But I'm not too sure on this though.
     
  6. Fergal

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  7. Zantetsken

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    Thanks for those links; I'll have to check them out later when I have more time. But first, I think I should contact my friend and discuss the issue to see if we want to continue that plan.
     
  8. oneplanet

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    Hi Zantetsken,

    Here's an idea for you ... why not do it yourself?
    Go to createspace.com and take the "tour", top right of screen. :)

    You can get the book on Amazon from that site too.
     
  9. Zantetsken

    Zantetsken
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    I can't really imagine anyone buying a self-published book from people who have never written books before, not to mention the mistakes we could make in publishing... I think it would be better to get a professional to deal with that kind of thing.


    I checked out some of those links, and I like the advice on the last one. I do tend to "ramble", so I'll have to be careful about that if we do indeed decide to do this.
     
  10. Kay

    Kay
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    Most publishers like to select their own illustrators of children's books. I'd not waste time with that side of it and just stick with the text. Beware of vanity publishers and always check any publisher out online to see what's being said about them.

    One site I recommend is Absolute Write for sound advice from seasoned writers. Especially useful is their Bewares and Background checks section at the forum. It's a huge, well respected forum in writing circles and for the newbie, it's heaven sent.

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

    You'll find publishers are discussed at great length online everywhere by writers as to what kind of service they provide and how much work they'll do as opposed to how much you'll do promotion wise.

    Self publishing has a much better reputation than it did in the past but still carries a bit of a stigma in my opinion. Costs can be prohibitively high and some are quite frankly abysmal quality, falling into the aforementioned vanity publishing category. If you decide to go that route after all, you'll need to learn how to differentiate between the two to avoid being ripped off.

    Your heart has to be in the process. If you're only half thinking about it, you'll face stiff competition from others who've dedicated themselves to the whole writing process for years. It's an extremely competitive market.

    JK Rowling's the perfect example. Yes, she's the exception in many ways, being unknown and unpublished yet hugely successful in the end. But look a little deeper and you'll see why. She spent five solid years planning all the ins and outs of Harry Potter and his wizarding world before she even started writing the first volume. Five years! Actually I have an article at my writers site all about what she did if you're interested:

    http://www.cuckleburr.com/are-you-the-next-jk-rowling

    Please don't think I'm trying to put you off because I'm not. Forewarned is forearmed. :) I wish you every success with it, Zantetsken! My best advice to you would be to spend time learning more about the industry itself and its workings before you commit yourself to throwing any money at it.
     
  11. Fergal

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    Thanks for sharing those links with us Kay. I've bookmarked the Absolute Write Forum, Like a lot of people I would like to write a book someday myself.

    I recently read "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. This is a fantastic read and one of the best books I've read in a long time. I visited the author's website, link above, and two of his quotes echo what you say about JK Rowling;
     
  12. Kay

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    You know what they say Fergal, everyone's got one in them. :) That book sounds good from the excerpts. I'll keep an eye out for it.

    So when do you plan to start? :D Best do it before the bricks and mortar stores are gone. The thriving ebook industry has the print publishers nervous. A hardback would look much nicer on your bookshelf than a CD. ;)
     
  13. Fergal

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    I've no immediate plans to start a book Kay. Unfortunately I don't feel that I would have that much to write about. When I'm a bit older and have hopefully achieved more I will put pen to paper, hopefully the bookshops will still be around.
     
  14. scifi

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    Hi Zantetsken,
    Let your imagination fly to this limitless world of dreams so that the outcome of this can help you to capture the most wildest & innocent feelings of children's mind which can help you to even realize your own dream too!!!
    But if you keep focus on financial aspect of it you may not be able to turn your thoughts into words, so let break of yourself from monetary matters & starts flying in world of imaginations..

    Remember a risk is worth taking when you have all your dreams at stake...moreover children book is a very good idea...!!!!
     
  15. salichtman

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    It is almost like the lottery unless...

    Hi Nazreen - I, too, like Fergal's comments. In fact, being new to this forum, I am quite impressed with all of them I have so far read. And I strongly agree with your comments about a "seriousness" check. All entrepreneurial ventures (including writing and publishing books) involve lots and lots of challenges. You have to be really committed to make it through them successfully.

    Here's my two cents. First I'll let you know my perspective.

    I have published one eBook system on the web that has so far sold about 25,000 copies at about $80 apiece. To be honest, I learned all about eBooks from an eBook by David Garfinkel and Edwards called "Ebook Secrets Revealed." It is excellent and I used David to write copy for my sales page.

    However, I also wrote a print book with my wife called "Eye to Eye" and, while it has been cited by Krikus as one of the best books about parenting 3 to 5 year olds, sales aren't great. We self-published it through Amazon using their CreateSpace subsidiary with the idea of using that to leverage up to a "name" publisher. We used CreateSpace's service to send out lots and lots of PR releases. Zero response. Then we had someone who is very successful professionally in linking authors and agents try to find us an agent. She completely struck out with agents because they say that while the book is great, the market is so crowded. So sales on Amazon limp along.

    That brings me to childrens' books. That market is also crowded so the key is to temper (refine) your idea until lots of parents say, "That's fantastic" when you first describe it. You can use quotes from them in pitching your book to agents if you decide to go that way. Pitching directly to publishers unless you have an edge, like they're your next door neighbor, is tough because they are deluged.

    Nonetheless, to find publishers, look at Amazon and make a list of publishers of books similar to what you have in mind... or, better still, if you can make contact with one of a publisher's authors who likes your idea, they are the best to pitch it to their publishers. Of course you need to protect yourself by ensuring that you have a paper trail (e.g., Priority or Certified Mail and a link by a witness who signs a copy of what you sent attesting to the fact you sent it). If you pitch over the phone or by email you need a great elevator pitch (30 seconds or less) that really grabs parents (with whom you can experiment). You can find lots of parents through local preschools or schools if you get permission to talk to them about your forthcoming book.

    Without an edge, your chances of getting published are about that of winning the lottery... well, a little better. I've seen estimates of 20,000 fiction books published each year and agents have told me that they pick one out of 250 to represent. Those numbers work out to perhaps 5 million people pushing books each year. Like all marketing, you have to have an edge to stand out.

    So do your research. Talk to lots of parents about chilidrens' books they like. See what they have in common when you intuitively group them into categories. Find a category that is most similar to what you have in mind. Make a list of the most active publishers in that category. Ask parents who like your idea why they like it. That should give you something to say to the publishers. Contact authors in that category. It is likely that some will speak with you and, perhaps, you'll find one who will take you under their wing. And that's probably all you need.

    None of this costs a cent other than perhaps some phone charges.

    I have found that authors do respond to brief messages that show that you connect with their work. Not gushing messages, rather, intelligent. That's the route I am taking on finding a publisher of my new book on entrepreneurship and it has, so far, gotten me a promise to introduce my book to a major publisher by an organization that has a series with that publisher.

    Hope this helps.
     
    #15 salichtman, May 5, 2012
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  16. Graham Vitor

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    Wow Zantetsken this is a good idea! I am also thinking about writing a book. Maybe you should try to post it online first before bringin it to a publisher.
     

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