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 Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher

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davewyman



Number of posts : 6
Registration date : 2011-02-15
Location : Los Angeles, California

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PostSubject: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 2:33 pm

While I'm sure it's usually the other way around, a publisher has contacted me with a proposal for a book (about nature photography).

We're down to one question to me from the publisher, about marketing. I'm not sure why I'm supposed to answer this questions because the publisher has come to me; nonetheless, an editor is pressing me for a response (which is part of a seven page questionnaire).

Here's the question:

"What are the four most important features of this book from the perspective of the bookstore buyer (the bookstore employee who makes the purchasing decisions for the chain)?"

Given this would be a book on nature photography, I've tentatively come up with:

- An eye popping cover
- Both regional and national appeal

Beyond that, even with google, I'm not coming up with anything.

Any suggestions?
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12625
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : UK

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 2:50 pm

What the publisher wants to know is: What makes this book unique?

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Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
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Last edited by Shelagh on Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

Number of posts : 1727
Registration date : 2010-05-11
Location : Florida

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 4:01 pm

It's difficult to come up with important features of a book that I haven't seen. You haven't said whether the book is about nature photography as an art and craft, or a book that contains nature photographs as its content.
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RetiredName
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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 4:39 pm

Who is the publisher?
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davewyman



Number of posts : 6
Registration date : 2011-02-15
Location : Los Angeles, California

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 6:16 pm

Shelagh comes closest to the answer I needed, and I've recast my answers in that light. Al, it's a "how-to" book, so much of the emphasis is on the craft of photography. By it's nature – so to speak – such a book must include at least some thought about the creattion of aesthetically pleasing images.
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Al Stevens
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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 8:18 pm

davewyman wrote:
Shelagh comes closest to the answer I needed, and I've recast my answers in that light. Al, it's a "how-to" book, so much of the emphasis is on the craft of photography. By it's nature – so to speak – such a book must include at least some thought about the creattion of aesthetically pleasing images.

Ok. Understood. Been there. They usually want the following:

  1. What books are out there on the same subject? In other words, what is the competition?
  2. How is your book better than any of those?
  3. How is it different from them? Unique, as Shelagh said.
  4. What credentials do you have that would attract readers?
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 8:41 pm

I've had to answer the same questions. You should also be able to tell them who and what the potential market is (specific numbers), and who/what the market of competitor books is. Researching these numbers can take some work, but good numbers are convincing. Point out the longevity of any competitor books.
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davewyman



Number of posts : 6
Registration date : 2011-02-15
Location : Los Angeles, California

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyTue Feb 15, 2011 9:13 pm

LC wrote:
I've had to answer the same questions. You should also be able to tell them who and what the potential market is (specific numbers), and who/what the market of competitor books is. Researching these numbers can take some work, but good numbers are convincing. Point out the longevity of any competitor books.

That sounds good, LC. On the other hand, I didn't suggest the idea for the book, the publisher did. While I'm honored I was contacted first, I've now done some work for the publisher without a promise of a contract.

Of course I didn't mind performing the requested leg work, given the potential payoff of getting another book under my belt. And if I'd pitched the proposal first, I'd have been happy to have answered any requests/questions, anyway.

Question for you: do you have any thoughts about where I would go to come up with specific numbers for a potential market for a "how-to" book about nature photography?
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12625
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Location : UK

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 3:18 am

From the CEO of a small publishing company in the UK:

"We consider sales of fewer than 300 copies of a novel to be poor, between 300 and 750 copies average, and over 1000 successful."

Since this is a true and honest (I checked the links to the commenter's website) statement about sales from a small press that makes a living out of such sales, I wonder just why the expectations of aspiring fiction writers are so high.

As far as how-to books are concerned, I think the sales figures can be accurately predicted as being higher than those for fiction: possibly around 5,000 would be considered successful -- but that's just a guess.

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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Shelagh Watkins
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Al Stevens
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Number of posts : 1727
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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 7:58 am

davewyman wrote:

That sounds good, LC. On the other hand, I didn't suggest the idea for the book, the publisher did. While I'm honored I was contacted first, I've now done some work for the publisher without a promise of a contract.

Of course I didn't mind performing the requested leg work, given the potential payoff of getting another book under my belt. And if I'd pitched the proposal first, I'd have been happy to have answered any requests/questions, anyway.
You were probably dealing with an acquisitions editor when you were asked to do the book. After they get an author lined up, they have to pitch it to their management, who doesn't care whose idea it was. They need those answers in order to make a decision, and they assume that the author, being an expert in the subject matter, is in a better position to answer them than they are.

I had the exact same thing happen last year. The editor called to see if I'd like to come out of retirement and do an 8th edition of one of my computer programming books. I said yes and answered all her questions. Her management vetoed the project. (I got a reversion of rights and published it on the Kindle. (http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Yourself-C-Kindle-ebook/dp/B004JHY9SE/)

I think you should go ahead and write the book. It's a good subject with wide appeal. If they don't come up with a contract, try for other publishers or self-publish it.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

Number of posts : 1727
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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 8:03 am

Shelagh wrote:
Since this is a true and honest (I checked the links to the commenter's website) statement about sales from a small press that makes a living out of such sales, I wonder just why the expectations of aspiring fiction writers are so high.
Because low expectations do not motivate one to undertake such a daunting task?
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 10:23 am

Quote :
Question for you: do you have any thoughts about where I would go to come up with specific numbers for a potential market for a "how-to" book about nature photography?

Trade associations might provide estimates for how many hobbyists are in this field, thus suggesting the market. What textbooks are used in nature photography classes? Try to access facultynetwork.com and see if you can get adoption numbers. Have competitor books been so successful that they were published in multiple editions? What are their Amazon ranks and how old are they? (an older book with a strong rank means good sales). Where are such books currently sold? Maybe their managers will provide some rough sales data.

Getting numbers isn't easy, but you have to prove that enough of a market exists for a publisher to be interested.
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 10:55 am

Quote :
"We consider sales of fewer than 300 copies of a novel to be poor, between 300 and 750 copies average, and over 1000 successful."

Since this is a true and honest (I checked the links to the commenter's website) statement about sales from a small press that makes a living out of such sales, I wonder just why the expectations of aspiring fiction writers are so high.

I wonder why his sales are so low. And with these numbers, I wonder what his print run is.
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12625
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Location : UK

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 10:59 am

Can you find me accurate figures from a US small publisher?

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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Shelagh Watkins
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 11:51 am

Publishers don't release their sales info to the general public. Just from my own knowledge of how my own small pub works, if a book sold less than 1,000/year, it would go out of print fast.

Of course, I'm assuming that the small press you referenced is not a POD.
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davewyman



Number of posts : 6
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Location : Los Angeles, California

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 12:26 pm

My own first two books, pictorial guidebooks about California, must have sold several thousand copies each, as the one was in print for about nine years, the other for perhaps six years, and I received regular royalty checks for each of them – mostly in diminishing amounts – over the years.

Al Stevens, I am indeed working with an acquisitions editor, and he's asked me a couple of times for more detailed information to give to his manager (matching up what's unique about my approach to specific areas in the book).

Write it anyway? You're right, I should! I'm eminently qualified. Having put together such a specific outline for the book, I'm halfway there. ;-)

I've also thought about self-publishing (including my three books that all went out of print in 2009), particularly in pdf form, because I think the books would look great on an iPad.

Thanks to all, and perhaps I can come back to post here to let you know if my book project is a go or a no.
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LC
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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 12:29 pm

davewyman: this is actually the site I meant to reference, not facultynetwork.com (although the latter could help, too).

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Quote :
My own first two books, pictorial guidebooks about California, must have sold several thousand copies each, as the one was in print for about nine years, the other for perhaps six years, and I received regular royalty checks for each of them – mostly in diminishing amounts – over the years

Must have sold? Didn't your royalty statements list exactly how many sold? Mine do (I have three different publishers)


Last edited by LC on Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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davewyman



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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 12:30 pm

LC wrote:
davewyman: this is actually the site I meant to reference, not facultynetwork.com (although the latter could help, too).

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Ah, thanks for this!
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 12:33 pm

I think you need an edu address to access facultycenter.net. And its accuracy is not real up to date, no doubt because it's free to users. But it's a start point. Any other resource charges a lot for their data.
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Al Stevens
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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 12:55 pm

davewyman wrote:
I've also thought about self-publishing (including my three books that all went out of print in 2009), particularly in pdf form, because I think the books would look great on an iPad.
Instead of PDF, publish it in Kindle format (with DRM enabled) and post it on Amazon's Kindle store. Anyone can buy it from amazon and download it directly to their Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Nook. You'll get much wider exposure that way. Amazon is the online store to use.
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davewyman



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PostSubject: Re: Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher   Help with a Question I've Gotten from a Potential Publisher EmptyWed Feb 16, 2011 1:09 pm

Al Stevens wrote:
davewyman wrote:
I've also thought about self-publishing (including my three books that all went out of print in 2009), particularly in pdf form, because I think the books would look great on an iPad.
Instead of PDF, publish it in Kindle format (with DRM enabled) and post it on Amazon's Kindle store. Anyone can buy it from amazon and download it directly to their Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Nook. You'll get much wider exposure that way. Amazon is the online store to use.

That sounds good. What about the photographs - full color photographs. They obviously won't appear in color on the kindle – do you know if they would they transfer to an iPad in their full, glorious color?
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