Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why You Should NOT Be Making Publishing Assumptions

We live in a hurry up world with limited time and resources. Are you making publishing assumptions which are limiting your publishing options? Admittedly there are many different ways to get published and thousands of new books released into the market every day.

For over five years, I've been an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. As an acquisitions editor, I work with authors and literary agents to find the right books for us to publish. From my 25+ years in publishing and working with many types of publishers and authors, I know firsthand our model at Morgan James is different. In many ways, it is author-driven yet it has the team and consensus-building elements that comprise what makes traditional publishing work.

I've had the negative experiences in publishing. For example, a book proposal that I wrote received a six-figure advance. My co-author nor I saw the book cover or title before the book was published. In fact, there was a different title in the publisher's catalog than the printed book. The cover had a photo of my co-author that he didn't like. He didn't get behind the book in promotion and talking about the book—which every book needs if it is going to succeed. With the poor sales, the publisher took our book out of print in about six months. The stock was destroyed and I have some of the few remaining copies of this book.

While you may think this story is unique, I've often hear such experiences from others who have followed the traditional path. In this path, the publisher is in charge of the title, cover, interior, etc. They may show the author the information but at the end of the day, they feel like they have more publishing experience than the author so they make the decisions. The lack of author involvement from my experience leads to less author promotion and less sales. Some of these actions explain why 90% of nonfiction books never earn back their advance (a little talked about fact in the publishing community).

Recently a literary agent (that I had not worked with before) submitted a novel to Morgan James. As a professional courtesy when receiving an offer, he reached out to me to see if we were interested in the book. With my recent travel to conferences, I had not spoken with this agent—the next step in the process of getting a Morgan James book contract. I tried to set up a phone meeting with the agent that day—and we arranged a time. At first, he downplayed the need for us to take the time to talk because he heard the model was a hybrid. Even the term “hybrid” means many different things in publishing. I was grateful this agent took the time to hear the details about Morgan James. Whether the agent does a deal with us or not, at least I got the chance to talk about the unique aspects. He did not discount the opportunity and assume he understood it.

At an event, I met an author who gave me her partial manuscript. I reached out to her to get the electronic version. She responded that she was chatting with her agent and had produced a couple of books with Tate Publishing and if Morgan James was like them, she wasn't interested. I told her that the leaders of Tate are in jail and Morgan James wasn't like them at all. I encouraged her to explore the possibilities instead of instantly discounting them.

Until an author submits their material and goes through the process, I don't know if they will receive a publishing offer from Morgan James. We receive over 5,000 submissions and only publish about 150 books a year—and of those books only about 25 to 30 are Christian books. We publish about 25 to 30 novels a year and about 25 to 30 children's books. The system is strong but not right for every author—and that is why there is a process.

The basic principle: don't make assumptions. Instead take the time to listen and read and explore. You may be surprised with the opportunities.  Behind the scenes, I've seen great integrity and transparency with Morgan James Publishing. If I can help you, don't hesitate to reach out to me. My email and work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this information sheet.

Are you publishing assumptions as you look at options? Tell me in the comments below.


Why writers should NOT be making publishing assumptions. Get the details here from an experienced editor. (ClickToTweet)
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2 Comment:

At 5:50 AM, Blogger Jennifer Left a note...

I am grateful you posted this. I have absolutely made assumptions about Morgan James Publishing and it has cost me to rethink submitting. Can you please explain why Morgan James Publishing is not a "vanity" publisher? For someone who is not interested in self publishing, what can Morgan James offer a new writer who may need the direction of an agent?

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Thank you for this feedback and comment. Morgan James is not a "vanity" publisher. Vanity publishers have no filter and publish close to 50,000 titles a year. Morgan James receives over 5,000 submissions a year and only publishes about 150 books. That means if your book gets accepted and you are given a contract, you are in less than 3% of all the material that was submitted. Also our books have broad distribution. No vanity publisher has had their books on the New York Times list over 25 times--yet Morgan James has achieved this level of success (almost like winning an Oscar in the movies). I'm encouraging authors to learn the details instead of dismissing it outright. There is no cost to the exploration and it might be the best place for your book to be published.



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