I am not a Literary Virgin any more.
Hooray! Today I received my first publishers acceptance letter, almost exactly three weeks after I sent them a submission and a query. I am impressed because they said they would revert to me within 3 weeks and they were as good as their word. That is so rare these days.
They called me, as promised, exactly on time, on my mobile, at my home in my tree-that-wants-to-be-a-yacht and discussed the various options with me. Although I must admit I was a little perturbed at first when 13.30, the time agreed for the call, came and went without incident. However, when my mobile chirped at exactly 19.30 and Xxxxxxica was on the line- I realised they were obviously calling from a different time zone to me, and were in fact bang on time as promised.
This is rare service today and is seldom equalled except by successful Companies.
Following a twenty minute discussion, I admitted that my book was probably not ready to publish yet because I had received over forty-five rejections from other agents. I have also submitted it for review to some of my peers who convinced me to consider getting a real job. I was also a little concerned because I figure there is only a market for perhaps 1000 of my books and I have real concerns as to how I will pay the publishing costs.
Another issue that we discussed was the question of order of ePrint, Print, publication and launch. I believe that in order for me to sell at least one thousand books, I need to first sell my book as an eBook and then, later consider printing onto paper whatever is left. In other words if I am only able to sell say seven hundred eBooks then I only need to print another three hundred and one paper books. Why the odd number you ask? Naturally I want to keep one copy for myself, to autograph and present to my number one fan, my best friend, my lover, my anchor, the mother of my children, my confidante, and my one and only wife. Unfortunately they do not wish to deviate from their proven successful formula and would not allow me to do this.
We also discussed the question of DRM or not. At first the consultant was a little puzzled as to what DRM was, but once I explained that I did not wish any of my eBooks to be encoded with a digital “lock” she once again explained that the company would not consider deviating from their proven policy.
Once I explained my position and the fact that this was my first acceptance and that I was waiting to hear from the other eighty or so agents that I approached , and that the rewrite of my book would take some time we agreed to speak again in a few months. She diarised a date to call me again and I bet she will call exactly on time on the due date. Gosh its great to be an author in demand!
I have included a copy of their letter below, please forgive me for removing the name of the publisher and some other facts, but I don’t want you all beating a path to their door, because I feel certain, that once they are exposed to some real authors I will be forgotten in the rush and will be reduced to sitting sadly at my phone waiting for it to ring. Besides, I dont want to run foul of copyright or any other laws since it is clear they spent a lot of time writing this letter to me and may want to use it igain when they discovr some real writers.
I have also composed a reply, friendly and personal. This is based on what I have seen concerning the relationship between agents and their publishers in the movies. Since I am not used to fame myself I have absolutely no idea how to behave. I am concerned to send the letter will be overstepping the bounds of our business relationship, so I would appreciate your input and comments on this score.
This is the letter I wrote but never sent them in reply.
Dear Dave and Angelica. ( Names changed – I explained this already you jealous nosy people)
Your Publishing acceptance letter arrived in my email and came as a bright ray of digital light at the end of an unproductive and boring flesh and blood Zululand day. To give you an idea, first of all, at six am this morning a troop of monkeys broke into the tree-house-boat where I live and write. No doubt they were in search of the apples I eat for breakfast which I usually hide under the Clover milk crate I sit upon. In their excitement they knocked my laptop off the stack of dog-eared National Geographic Magazines we use as a table and broke one of the hinges on my computer’s screen. Now I am reduced to propping it open with the universal cure-all for any boat-builder and especially me – silver duct tape and a pair of dowel sticks. To add insult to injury, the hairy rogues also ate Princess Mao’s, Whiskas cat kibbles before making off with the left overs from last nights supper as well.
Then, just as I finished cleaning up the faeces they always drop when they squabble and fight over their ill gotten spoils, a pair of the hornbills tearing up a fruit bat between them dripped its blood and intestines all over my keyboard. By the time I shut my Toshiba laptop down, removed the battery, cleaned and dried the keys and hung it up to dry on the barbed-wire wash line we string between our Tree and the light standard overlooking the boatyard, it was lunchtime. There at least was a hay of sunshine! On the menu was a scooped out half-loaf of white bread filled with five pairs of Mama Thembu’s spicy Runaways from RK;s curry and bunny-chow den. Yummy! I love Runaways, although I must admit the first few times I tried them it took me some time to overcome my gag reflex every time the scales and toenails on the otherwise delectable stewed chickens feet caught in my teeth.
After lunch I got down to some serious fiction writing, last weeks worksheets for the guy who employs me to work on his boat. Thank heavens he is terrified of the Internet or my goose and bank balance would be cooked! By tea time I was starving hungry and exasperated. I could not read my own handwriting and the laptop keyboard was still not dry. To add insult to injury a giant orb spider had set up shop between the shift key and Princess Mao’s ‘s poo-box. I can tell you, Madame Mao was not amused and she took her business elsewhere! The orb spider (We named her Shelob, after the slightly smaller eight legged creature in Lord of the Rings) was not inclined to move on and hissed a lot when I tried to broach the subject. Instead she has joined our extended family. Charles, our pet Chameleon is eyeing her speculatively, but I think Shelob has the measure of him.
By the time I had made introductions and restored peace it was time for late afternoon tea. Where did the day go? My wife Dianne had made upside down cake- in fairness, not on purpose, it just happened that way. You see she was startled by our resident Green Mamba on her way to snack on a masked weaver or two just as Dianne was climbing up the ladder from the kitchen we have set up in the tent below our tree. To make things worse we had to settle for black tea because our goat Heidi was eaten by a crocodile last week and so we have had to go without milk all week as a result. The yacht club is adamant that we cannot replace Heidi because she ate the commodores signal flags, went to the toilet on the front lawn and head butted the club secretary. So I am going to get a cow without asking them on the basis that it is easier to beg forgiveness than to ask for permission. Failing that Dianne has said we should get the long-life milk from our local Spar, it does not need refrigeration and can last for months.
Then, just as I felt it might be time to reassemble my laptop, the enter and backspace keys fell out and I dropped the tiny springs that make them work through the gaps in the tree-boat floor. Just as well my son Bill is a computer whiz because in no time he had barnes-wallaced a workaround by assigning their functions to the F9 and F12 keys respectively. Sometimes I don’t know what I would do without him and sometimes I don’t know what I will do with him!
I did not know how to broach the subject of the difference of opinion in the order of publishing and the DRM so I thought I would leave it right there, sign it off and email it. But, I am concerned, they are not my publisher yet, and maybe they dont want my news. Decisions decisions.
Please read their letter, to me and in the light of their formal and perhaps a little mechanical approach, do you think I should be a bit more business like?
July 13, 2012
Yacht Sea Shoes
Zululand Yacht Club
Richards Bay, 3695
My staff has completed the review of “Pisces and the Sailfish.” I am pleased to inform you that we think your work would make a positive addition to our Dxxxxxce Publishing list of titles.
To begin the process of publishing your book with us, I have passed your file on to Veronica xxxx, Senior Publishing Services Consultant, whom you can reach at xxxxx-7654 or by email at xxxx@Dxxxxxcepublishing.com. I am confident you will find my colleague both personable and knowledgeable.
I would prefer to negotiate the specific details of your publishing services agreement personally. However, given the volume of titles that we bring into print each year, I find it necessary to delegate these duties to members of our Publishing Services Consultation staff. I would, nevertheless, like to personally provide for you a brief overview of our publishing services program at this time.
It is important to note that our publishing services program is comprehensive and includes all of the
elements necessary to properly publish “Pisces and the Sailfish.” Included are complete editorial and design services, a defined book promotion plan, traditional print and ebook distribution, book
merchandising coaching, and order fulfillment services.
You will be assigned a Project Coordinator, who will be your personal liaison during the production of your book, and then you will be assigned an Author Service coordinator, who will be your point of contact during the promotion of your book and for as long as you remain a Dxxxxxce author. These staff members, along with our Book Merchandising staff, are easily reachable via email and toll-free phone numbers.
Additionally, an account will be created for you at our Author Resources website, where you can log in— day or night—to review production, promotion, or book merchandising materials for “Pisces and the Sailfish.”
Pre-Press Editorial and Design Services
Editing: Our production manager will assign an editor to mechanically edit “Pisces and the Sailfish,” making a check for consistency and accuracy of punctuation, spelling, and grammar. The manuscript will be returned to you, for your approval, upon completion of the editing process.
Page Design: Our production staff will decide on a typeface that is appropriate for your book. Then they will design the pages, which will also be submitted for your approval. Generally, our books are designed with a 10-point type with 12 points of leading (space between lines).
Cover Design: I will also have one of our cover designers create an appealing cover for your book. (We may ask for your input here since you have spent much more time with “Pisces and the Sailfish” than we have at this point.) If you have a recent full-color photograph available, please let us know so that we can plan to include it on the cover of the book as part of our “About the Author” sales copy.
Copyright: We will apply for a copyright in your name for the finished book and, if your book qualifies, obtain a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN). If you previously obtained a copyright for your unpublished work, United States copyright law requires that a new copyright be filed when the work has been published. This service is part of our standard procedures.
Traditional Print Format: Your book will be printed on quality paper and expertly bound.
Ebook: Since consumption of books in a digital format is a rapidly growing book distribution market, I would also like to make “Pisces and the Sailfish” available to consumers in digital formats. We have strategic partnerships with the largest ebook vendors in the world: Google eBookstore, Amazon Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Your book will be available for purchase in digital form most anywhere in the world and will be able to be read on more than 86 different ebook reading devices, including the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader, Android phones, the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod Touch, as well as personal computers.
A specific amount of your author services fee is assigned as the promotion budget for your book. Once we have agreed upon terms of publication, my promotion staff will perform specific research to target specific outlets and media in the course of carrying out our promotion program. The book promotion that we perform for our authors embraces the shift from traditional to digital marketing. These changes benefit of our authors because they allow us to participate in new opportunities available for avenues of distribution.
The specific details of our proposed book promotion will be detailed in Section X of our contract, but the
• The preparation of a color-enhanced digital interactive Press Kit that features a synopsis of the
book, an author biography, a copy of the publicity release that we will write for your book, a high-
resolution copy of your book’s cover, and links to the Dxxxxxce On-line bookstore and
DxxxxxcePressRoom.com. This press kit is disseminated to a review and publicity list of
approximately three hundred (300) media outlets such as local and selected national
newspapers, local or specialized national magazines, local or specialized terrestrial radio and television stations, print newspapers, magazines, and trade journals.
• We will also distribute your publicity release to online news media and RSS news feeds including,
but not limited to, Google News; Yahoo! News; and o-line blogs, online talk radio programs, and
online newspapers and magazines.
• We will create a Google AdWords search engine marketing campaign by developing a keyword list and creating an ad relevant to your book’s content and your background. The ad will show on
Google search results when searchers, worldwide, enter queries that contain the selected
keywords. Ads will link directly to your book’s listing at DxxxxxceBookstore.com.
• We will post a cover of the book, sample inside page content, and links to ordering information on
Google Book Search, along with creating a listing at Amazon.com and our own online bookstore,
• We will telephone up to 12 selected booksellers in your area to introduce the availability of the
work, making an offer for an appearance for an autograph reception if you are agreeable.
• We will create and print full-color direct mail marketing postcards and send them to your personal
traditional mailing and email list.
When we begin our promotion efforts, please let us know if you are available to participate in book
signings at local Richards Bay area bookstores.
Distribution, Merchandising, and Order Fulfillment
Distribution: Once “Pisces and the Sailfish” is in book form, your traditional print and ebook purchase information will be made available at our e-commerce bookstore, DxxxxxceBookstore.com (part of the Yahoo! Mall); enrolled in the Amazon.com Advantage program (once your title is enrolled in the Advantage program, Amazon.com automatically begins ordering a traditional print version of it to put in their warehouse); submitted to Ingram Lightning Source, the leading international book distributor preferred by retailers like Barnes & Noble; and introduced to Baker & Taylor, one of the largest printed-book distributors in the United States and beyond. Additionally, a listing for your book will be created at Bowker’s Books in Print, an essential bibliographic tool for libraries, booksellers, and publishers.
Book Merchandising: As one of our authors, you will have access to an exclusive toll-free phone line that goes directly to our Book Merchandising coordinators. They provide unlimited help with personal book orders and offer tips and answer any questions that you may have regarding the marketing and sale of your book. Each Dxxxxxce author receives a complimentary copy of our proprietary book, The Next Chapter: How to Be an Effective Partner in the Merchandising of Your Book. This guide gives you helpful tips about book signings and other appearances.
Our book merchandising department maintains the popular Dxxxxxce Author Blog (www.DxxxxxceAuthorBlog.blogspot.com). It’s an easy-to-use resource, with additional posts going up several times a week that contain creative, timely, and helpful book merchandising ideas. It is also a place where you can hear about the exciting initiatives being carried out by fellow Dxxxxxce authors.
About 30 days after your book is produced, you will be invited to attend an online webinar aimed at
educating you on the business of book merchandising. And, each month you will also receive our
exclusive Dxxxxxce author-only e-newsletter, “Book Notions.”
Order Fulfillment: Upon receipt of a retail or consumer order for “Pisces and the Sailfish,” our fulfillment team will handle order processing, payment processing, packaging and shipping, and customer service for orders.
Don, Dxxxxxce Publishing Co., Inc. continues to publish books in the fine tradition associated with
the Dxxxxxce name for more than ninety years. The original publishing company was founded in 19xx by xxxxel xxxon Dxxxxxce and was America’s first author services company. I have been personally involved with Dxxxxxce Publishing for over 20 years. I truly believe that we have assembled a pool of creative writers, mechanical editors, proofreaders, and artists as well as full-time advertising, public relations, and creative services staffs that offer a level of support and service to our authors that is unmatched in the author services industry. All of our staff strives daily to live up to our mission statement: “Building Lasting Relationships, One Satisfied Author at a Time.”
Our publishing service fee is $6,400 for our comprehensive services package. Please be assured it is not due at once; rather, it is paid over time. Often, we can offer our new authors attractive and flexible, interest-free payment plans. It may be possible for you to get started with as little as the first payment of 24 installments.
Given the current economic climate, we now offer a program that gives you the peace of mind of knowing that, should you lose your income in the next year, we’ll stop our services and let you walk away from your obligations. We call it the Dxxxxxce Publishing Company Assurance Program. A flyer detailing this program is enclosed.
Don, my staff and I understand “Pisces and the Sailfish” represents a significant personal
accomplishment for you, and we would be very honored to have the opportunity to work with you in bringing it into print.
If your schedule permits, please call my colleague, Xxxxxca Xxxxxco, toll-free at xxxxx-7654
sometime this week to discuss our offer in greater detail.
Cc: XXXXXa XxXxxco
note: The addressee above has been changed from the original to better reflect my nom-de plume and its associated brand creation and for no other reason whatsoever.