Re: Royalties, how much?

Subject: Re: Royalties, how much?
From: jhedtke -at- OZ -dot- NET
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 1995 00:03:35 PDT

> Be especially careful that you retain the right to revise the book for
> another edition.
> Que is infamous for taking a book that turns out to be successful and
> having other
> authors do the revision, cutting out the original author in the process.

> I'd recommend staying away from Que, actually. Just my opinion and advice
> based
> on experience.

Speaking for myself, I can't think of any circumstances under which
I'd be willing to take a contract from Que. I feel the same way about
New Riders and Sams, FWIW.

Sams actually offered me a couple of deals over the years. They were
incredibly cheap. One of their offers was that they wanted me to write
about 50 pages of highly technical material on how to choose and install
a hard disk in your PC for which they'd take all the rights. The editor
who'd phoned me up offered me (drum roll) >>$250<< for the lot. I couldn't
stop laughing. When I finally stopped laughing, which took almost a minute,
I said "Well, let's see -- I can write stuff like this at 2 hours/page, so
that's 100 hours for the lot, which means that you're offering me $2.50/hour
to do this. Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh, I think I'll pass!" Then I laughed
some more. :)

She asked what she could do to get my services on this book, since they
really wanted me (I'd just published an article on this topic for Windows
magazine). I said, "Well, for a start, you could put a zero at the end
of that number." She said that they had a maximum budget of $1000 for this.
I said that I'd have fun with the story, but that they weren't going to
get me that cheap.

Another Sams editor once tried to talk me into a book for a 10% royalty.
He said "What do you think of that?" I said "I think you're going to have
to come up with more money." He seemed surprised. I said I normally got
15%. He tried to sell me on the exposure value. I said that this would
be my 6th book were I to take it; I had "exposure" coming out my orifice,
and I was after the money. He talked to me the next day, and said that
he could come up to 12% after sellig 15,000 copies. I told him that I
wasn't interested. I suggested that writers would get a book or two in
with them and then leave, but that the way you built up publishing was to
get a string of authors people would buy. He said that they assumed that
their writers would leave, so they were just <paraphrase here> running
them through and then moving on to the next writer. (I don't remember his
exact words, but this was the gist of what he said.) I was *really*
surprised at that -- I didn't think that anyone would be inclined to
do that kind of business; it's really not very long-term successful.

Lessons for the reader, here <g>:
* Be ready to walk away from a deal if you don't like it. You'll feel
good at the power you have. If they're really hot for you, they might
even chase after you, but just being able to say "no" will be good for
your ego. Don't be snotty, don't be rude, but be able to say "no" if
the occasion demands it.
* Be very wary of people selling you "opportunity" as an alternative to
actually paying you something. Suggest that if the opportunity is so
good, then they ought to take the other end of the deal. They'll
usually get real chary about it.
* Don't deal with slugbait or fools.
* There are a lot of publishers out there. If one of them will buy you,
so will another. Avoid the really cheap places; sell yourself for the
most you can get.


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