I've been gone awhile. BEA, excuse, something else, climbing, etc.
It's question and answer day today! Let's skip the pleasantries and get down to business.
How do I get into publishing? And what qualifications are required? :)
Thank you for the question. My answer is based on my experience and the experiences of those I’ve met along the way. I’ll save you the careerbuilder.com article (mainly because I think it’d probably be a lot of intuitive, oft repeated platitude bullshit) and give you a rambling answer.
You should know that I got into publishing by one day deciding I was going to be a publisher. I didn’t really know shit about shit at that point (I was 23, full of adrenaline, naive, and ready to go!), but I already owned a company with a friend of mine. One of the first things we did was met with some local dude who ran a publishing company that had books featured on the local books section of our local bookstore.
That guy gave us some advice. More importantly, he gave us some of his time. Though our two publishing paths would soon thereafter take off in completely different directions, I am still very grateful for the time he gave us.
I also read a bunch of books (most notably Dan Poynter’s guide) that are now probably all out of date because publishing in 1999 was a way different beast than the one on your doorstep right now.
And then? I just did it. Small print runs of poetry and short story collections. Though it’s probably not all that cool to say right now, they were practice runs for the real thing. That real thing was the novel Red Sky, Red Dragonfly, published in the fall of 2001.
From there, I ran a company for a few years, sold it to a larger company, got in a fight with management, then started a new company, then sold that to a larger company, and that’s where I am today.
In all of those years, I’ve had a bunch of interns who are now scattered throughout the world, including some of them at agencies, larger publishers, still working with me, and related publishing worlds. Some of them are also huffing glue in an alley in Omaha, so it’s not like this is a guaranteed winning proposition.
So what can you do? Find a local publisher. Ask if you can intern. Or, if there aren’t any in your area, find a company you really like that has a web presence and ask them if you can work remotely. The smaller the house, the greater your passion for them—the more likely they’ll find a way to bring you on board.
If none of those things work, you can do like me, and make a bad decision and start your own.
For more on this subject (that’s a little more of the feel good variety), I detailed all of this much more in an earlier post.
How does the Editor and authors get paid for an anthology?
This can go a couple of ways, Young Zack.
One is the ol’ “Flat Fee” style where the publisher hands over a bunch of cash pays out a one-time fee to each of the contributors and the editor and that’s that.
Two is the “holy shit, this is kind of complicated and I’m going to bang my head into a wall because I have to deal with it, but ultimately it’s the right thing” way. In that situation, an advance is figured out, and that money is divided between the editor and the contributors. It can be broken down in a bunch of complicated ways including story length, but, let’s just say, for the sake of saying something, that the whole project consists of 10 stories, the advance is $5,000, and the royalty rate is 10% and the book costs $25 and nobody, anywhere is getting a discount.
That initial $5k advance might get split this way (there are an infinite amount of ways for this to happen, this is just for illustrative purposes) -- $1000 to the editor. $400 to each of the 10 contributors. Once the book has sold 2,000 copies it will have sold out its advance (royalty rate would make it $2.50 to creators/copy sold). At that point, for each sale after that, the editor would make $1.00 and the contributors would get $1.50 that would then be split 10 ways (aka $.15/sale).
That’s Mansion Money, son! That’s what publishing is all about.
Would love the answer to the scandalous book pricing going on by Amazon…why are e-books more expensive than paperbacks!?
I’m not going to pretend to understand book pricing right now. There are some general guidelines folks might use when pricing things, but then those “suggested retail prices” are run through meat grinders and algorithms and some robot that was put together with parts from a transistor radio and a remote control car originally purchased from a Radio Shack in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1984. You see what kind of thing you get. Throw in, on top of all that, agreements to not be undersold by other vendors, the ability to generate discounts at will for whatever rate the robot says is best, and shit stops making sense.
That’s the scientific explanation.
There’s also the Wizard of Oz, don’t-mind-the-guy-behind-the-curtain shenanigans. Some people might tell you that there are strategies afoot that intend to stop certain vendors from making ebooks the only way to buy a book in ten years. Those people hang out at the intersection of Conspiracy Blvd. and Collusion Avenue.
Mainly though, it’s because people don’t know what’s going on, and they want to act, and everything they’ve ever known no longer makes sense, and they don’t want to be seen as passive or dinosaurs, so they just do something even when it doesn’t make sense.
Also, that part about robots is kinda true.