brought to book – part 2

Where were we? Oh yes, I was talking about drawing the line somewhere.

I did get one rapid response from a MAN UP submission, from a Chief Editor no less. She said her publishing house could see the market potential and liked my work but, in the current economic climate, they would need a financial contribution from me. Thankfully, Brian had already instilled a good dose of common sense into me so all that remained was to receive their no-obligations sample contract and, in the words of the great Jim Bowen (of Bullseye fame): ‘Come and see what you would have won.’

They wanted a contribution of £1275. I’ll wait for a moment while you all sit down or grab the furniture.
This is for a ‘little book’ of 110 quotes / pages and measuring 8 cm x 10.5 cm.

Okay, here’s the science bit:
1. They offer a 20% royalty. Based on the similarly sized Little Book of Cynics and its cover price of £3.00, that represents £0.60 per book. £3000 for the first 5000 copies sold.
2. 1000 copies per year is a realistic projection for this kind of book in the humour / gift market – I’ve done some research.
3. This means that (£600 x 2 = less than £1275) it will take over two years before I break even.
4. A 20% royalty sounds very attractive but, if we subtract my £1275 contribution from a five-year projection of the total royalty (when I fantasise, I do it long-term), we get a figure of £1725 (£600 x 5 and then minus £1275).
5. Now, this £1725 equates to a royalty of approximately 8.69%, broadly in line with the industry. But remember, I’m risking £1275 and for the first two years I don’t break even.

Someone somewhere said that money should flow to the writer. Kind of like our own prime directive. So I’ve written back to the publisher to thank them and tell them that I won’t be taking up their opportunity. Maybe I’ll give Jim Bowen a ring and ask him if he’s got any unwanted speedboats available going cheap.

Oh, I nearly forgot, and it doesn’t bode well when the contract you’re sent has the title of your book mis-spelt!


  1. ahab177 says:

    Anyone who wasn't in Dire Pychological Need would have made the same decision on the publisher's offer Unfortunately, there's enough DPN out there to keep alive hopes of this reverse cash flow happening.

    How on earth do you mis-spell "Man Up" ? Damned clever, these publishers!

  2. Mna Up
    Man Pu
    Nam Up

    Can I get a job as a publisher now? Or do you have to completely mix up the two words to qualify?

    How DID they speel it Derek? :o)

  3. Derek says:

    Well, it was the subtitle, actually. Instead of 'How to become a modern man through the wisdom of ignorance', they came up with 'How to be modern man through the window of ignorance'. I think it was near to the closing door of financial participation.

    DPN is sadly rife out there. Money issues aside, many writers only feel validated by themselves or their peers once their work is on a bookshelf somewhere. Man Pu might be a good title for a follow-up. But not a follow through.

  4. narerozi says:

    OMG, Derek. . . I still believe that ONE day you WILL get another book published ~ hugs

  5. Derek says:

    I have a few irons in the fire so if I don't get a contract or two this year I can always become a blacksmith!

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