February 15th, 2010

Dr. Orpheus

Publishing Questions

I've been fighting off a cold all last week, and this weekend it won. Though I'm still not sure if it's an actual cold or sinus issues, since we've been having a lot of fast fronts coming through, and my sinuses can detect a change in the weather as far as two states away.

stina_leicht had asked me several questions in a previous post, so I'm going to answer them here, at least the ones that I had answers for. :)

what is the typical acquisition process? is it different for every publisher? (i imagine it is but am equally sure there's a pattern.)

I don't think it's that different from publisher to publisher. I'll describe it based on my experience.

Since you have an agent, it should be pretty simple on your end. The editor will make an offer, an advance against royalties, to your agent. The agent will bring you the offer, talk to you about whether it's a good one, and you'll decide whether to accept it. Sometimes the editor and agent will negotiate back and forth about the money. (According to Tobias' survey, The median first novel advance is $5000 for Fantasy (average is $6494), so keep your expectations low and you won't be disappointed.)

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what was your experience when you sold your first novel?

My experience was pretty much what I've outlined above, except there was a dispute between my agency and the publisher over some of the contract clauses, and it took a few months to settle, so it took about two years from the time the offer was made for the book to actually be published.

is there anything you feel someone in my shoes should be aware of and prepare for?

A book doesn't necessarily have to earn out (sell enough copies to pay back the advance and start earning royalties) to make the publisher happy. It just has to meet the publisher's expectations, though you probably aren't going to be able to find out what those expectations are. And books now have a much shorter time to meet expectations, sometimes as short as two weeks, which is why preorders are so important. Though I'm pretty sure this is an area that's going to vary widely between different publishers. And the thing to remember is that a lot of things in publishing are changing right now, so YMMV.

i know a number of YA novelists and their first novels sold for more than what i've been told is average for first novels. is this just the YA market? (which now, as we know, is no longer the gold rush it once was.)

I'm really not sure; I've heard vaguely that the advances are bigger. Maybe any YA authors out there could answer this?

how is the sci-fi/fantasy publishing industry different from other markets? (like YA or general fiction or even romance.)

This I don't know much about. I've always heard that category romance is a much rougher playing field and books by new authors have a brutally short shelf life in bookstores, but again, that's just my vague impression from what people have said over the years. Hopefully someone else will stop by who can refute that or contribute a little more about other genres.

what's the average air speed of a european swallow?