Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Translation vs.Translation Rights
10:57 am edt
When you sign a contract with a publisher your trade your rights to the manuscript or work in exchange for the publisher's
financial commitment to produce, market and distribute your work. Unless you retained translation rights for certain languages,
your publisher needs to know if someone expresses interest in translating your book into another language. While it is flattering
to have an expression of interest in making the book available to an international audience and market, the rights for the
translation and the terms relating to it must be handled by the holder of rights for that language.
When you are knowledgeable about potential interest in your manuscript by an international market, and when
you have contacts with publishers in that country, you have a great advantage for promoting the sale of rights to that market.
You can provide the publisher with a list of foreign publishers who may be interested in purchasing the rights to your
work, and you also may want to provide names of translators you respect and would like to have do the translation.
Translations will often be contractually addressed by the subsidiary rights clause of your contract. Review this carefully
before you sign, particularly if you want to retrain rights in any particular language or country. Translation and translation
rights are related, but not identical. Ultimately, both depend on who holds the rights. Keep that in mind.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Too Many Words
9:15 pm edt
A mathematician reading a friend's dissertation in the humanities, remarked, "awfully lot of words." No numbers, we imagine,
Numbers are to mathematicians what words are to authors. Both express concepts and meanings. It is a matter of preference.
Some years ago a colleague named Moral Quest had earned a Ph.D. in English at a large university. He changed his name
to Moral Quest after he had completed his doctorate and began organizing political theatre at other schools. He
worked temp jobs to support himself, and while working one at our office he assisted the department manager with reports.
One day the manager gave him a large statistical report to type up. Moral held it in his hand a few moments and then returned
it to the manager, announcing "I don't do numbers." Baffled, the manager merely laughed and shook his head.
Too many numbers. Too many words. Readers come with every perspective and preference, and we cannot write
to suit them all. We can only write the number and kind of words which convey our or our characters' thoughts, concepts, perspectives
and beliefs. That is all we can and ought to do when we write.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
1:25 pm edt
A fleet of salespeople general represent a publisher's listing of books to the national and local bookstores. These people
are on the front lines of communication for your book, and they talk with bookstore owners and managers about what is new
on the market and may be of interest to individual stores. Salespeople generally represent more than one publishing house,
and so they have a variety of books to represent. Often they are paid on a commission basis, and so they have to be knowledgeable
about the needs and areas of specialization of each press and each bookstore. They rely on individual presses to inform them
about various publicity campaigns and events for authors as well as author credentials and upcoming reviews in order to present
a thorough understanding of each book they represent. These people take orders and pass them on to a distributor for a press
or directly to the press themselves.
Backad copy is extremely important and useful for book salespeople. They generally have a tremendous number of books
to present, and often they do not have much time in which to do so, so backad copy helps to present the essence of a book's
merits and significance.
As an author you generally are given an opportunity to review backad copy for your book. Keep bookstore salespeople in
mind as you do so. They and bookstore owners don't have much time to read copy, because there are so many titles from which
to choose, so keep them in mind as you review what is on the back cover of your book.
Friday, June 17, 2005
4:22 pm edt
The choice of cover colors requires a good deal of thought. Some colors appeal to some audiences; others turn them off.
Yellow on a cover is sometimes thought to fade easily and as a result, a fairly new book may appear old before its time. Some
colors are identified with certain markets and audience; others appear frivolous or too heavy and serious.
If you have ideas about what colors your would like to see on your cover, talk to a number of people, including a book
or cover designer and those readers in the market for whom the book is intended. Choosing a particular color just because
you personally happen to like it is not an enlightened way to select a color for a book's cover. Cover color is often a converstation
with and among a number of inhouse editors and marketing managers.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
11:04 am edt
Smart is a "hot" word these days. Smart is sharp, insightful, direct and powerful, whether it describes a person,
a business or a product. Smart sells. Smart cuts to the heart of a matter; smart is economy of style. Smart is on target
and what is wanted.
Smart presentation is brief, to the point, and spares the reader extra effort in processing the information. Smart is
what the market wants.
Smart is sometimes flat and one-dimensional. But smart can also demonstrate depth and "street smarts"; even wisdom. Being
smart about the publishing process and demonstrating that you are knowledgeable and interested in the needs of your audience
and your editor takes you through an open door. Get smart.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
8:55 pm edt
How many revisions do you need to go through before you feel your manuscript is complete? A skilled painter knows when
to stop making additions and changes. When the painting expresses the artist's feelings, ideas, and issues as completely as
possible, the artist puts down his/her brush and steps back, allowing the painting to breathe and live its own life. The creation
is complete, and the dialogue with the viewer can begin.
Going over your writing time and again, refining and polishing the language may actually obscure and inhibit the presention
you have created. Revisioning your writing has its contributions, but countless revisions to it may have nothing beneficial
to add . Know when to step back and allow your writing to live its own life.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
9:09 am edt
Stay in touch with those you meet or work with who are writers, editors, teachers, librarian, or publishers. They are
your primary contacts and resources for your own information and creativity. Develop an interest in the kinds of work they
do and ask good questions about it. Express interest in knowing more, and show a genuine curiosity about your contacts' lives.
A lively and engaged interest in the work and lives of others as well as a keen ability to listen well can be the basis
for your state of awareness and life consciousness. You can always work on improving both, and there is always more to learn
than you can ever take in. Your contacts are your teachers, your resources and your inspirations. Maintain good contact with
them, and be genuine in your interest about them. You have a great deal to learn from them.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
11:08 am edt
As a writer you have ventured into unknown territory and explored uncharted courses. You have departed from the given
and known in order to create your own path and unearth your own insights and treasures. You have, like an archeologist, opened
ground and carefully removed the encrusted debries of the taken for granted, and accepted as truth to allow new awareness
to shine through.
As a writer you create possibility, and you nurture resources previously unknown and unresearched. As a writer you nurture
others in creative explorations. Give and do what you can to encourage creative ventures in every area, and you will discover
that you prime the pump of your own well of creative resourcefulness. Foster creative endeavors and encourage their development
wherever you find them. Creativity equals possibility.
Monday, June 6, 2005
6:24 pm edt
Familiarize yourself with the designs of a wide variety of books. Note the type size and the design font used. The layout
of each book is different, in many cases, though some publishers have standard layouts they use for certain categories of
books. You may want to ask if your book will be designed or if it will be accommodated by a standard layout. If you wish to
give some input regarding the layout and design of your book, you should make that known at the time your contract is negotiated.
Otherwise,you will be at the good will of the acquiring or production editor or a marketing manager who manages your book.
Cover designs may also be individually designed or format/standard designs. Covers have a great impact on bookstores
interest in carrying a particular book, and they may have an impact on the buyer as well. Because color is very expensive
to print, many covers are done in two or three rather than four color. The ultimate price of your book may depend on the production
costs incurred in the process of production, so weigh that against the benefits of using additional color on the cover. Review
a good quantity of designs and covers to get a general sense of the appearance and look of competing books.
Thursday, June 2, 2005
10:02 pm edt
There are many options for publishing your work now. Barnes and Noble has its own publishing imprint, and you can locate
any number of its competitors who are,for a fee, willing to produce your book and make it available to readers. These producers
have captured the interest of authors who do not want to go through the traditional publishing house and its various reviews
Survey these producers well by visiting their websites and call and ask questions before you sign an agreement with them.
Educate yourself as thoroughly as you can so that you get your money's worth. You will not get the same quality of care and
attention you would get a publishing house, but you can make your book available to readers, and perhaps more quickly, if
you do elect to pay the price.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
8:51 am edt
Whenever you submit a manuscript to a publisher for review, be sure to retain a hard copy (or disk) for yourself. Mail
sometimes arrives in damaged condition, or takes much longer to arrive than expected. Unfortunately, inhouse delays and errors
also occasionally occur. Having a back up copy of your work is critical at such times. This may seem common sense, but many
authors have put too much confidence in the submission process to take steps to provide for some back up in the event there
are losses, misplacements, or damages to their work.
Enclose a SASE in your mailing--an envelope or postcard, for the recipient to mail to you on their receipt of it. Ask
for a date signature on the card or note and you will be able to see what date it was received and who received it. You cannot
be too careful with your record-keeping when it comes to a project you have worked on for some time and with a personal/professional
Prepare for the unexpected. Keep a hard copy. Keep writing.
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