How do you choose a publisher

Publish a book in the publisher - tips & instructions

Book contract: what do you have to pay attention to?

If a publisher who wants to publish your book finally took it, he offers the author a book contract. In the area of ​​fiction, this usually includes a fee and royalties. The fee is paid in any case, the royalties, on the other hand, are a percentage of the profit that exceeds the fee. In the case of non-fiction books, there are some publishers who even charge a subsidy for printing costs - which means you have to pay instead of being paid. The author earns money on his own book only through the royalty.

However, this is not uncommon in this area, since, for example, scientific textbooks are only printed in small editions and for a very small audience. It is almost impossible to make a profit here as a publisher without subsidies for printing costs. Large scientific publishers still manage to get by without subsidies by cross-financing their publishing offerings. This is also sorely needed, because quite a few books play almost no money in the publisher's coffers (cf. Hagener, 2015).

In addition to profit from the book, you should also pay attention to other points when signing a book contract. For example, many authors consider it very important to have a say in the book cover and title. However, this right of co-determination is not always part of the contract. Pay attention to when the rights to the book revert to the author and how the exploitation rights to the book, for example for an adaptation of the book as a script, are regulated. It is advisable to read a book contract carefully - like any contract!

Define cover and blurb

Depending on the book contract, the author is involved in the selection of a cover and can also approve the blurb of the book. The choice of the cover is often before the text of the book is revised, as the publishing programs need a lot of lead time and the cover and the blurb should be used early for marketing purposes. Publishers often know very well which covers are appropriate for the genre or target audience of a book. But if you don't like the layout of your book at all, if it arouses expectations that the book cannot meet, or if the cover is technically dubious (with a specialist book that would be a major misfortune), you should definitely protest.

Of course, this also applies to the title of the book. Many authors cling to the title they gave their book and find it difficult to come up with a new title for their book. In addition, there is always a fine line between an exciting and a sensational title. Especially as the author of a non-fiction book, this balancing act is difficult for many authors. The relationship of trust with the publisher's editor and good communication between the publisher and author are the most important factors for the success of this venture.

Editing of the text by the publisher

After the book contract has been signed, the book is edited. The editor and the author dedicate themselves to the text of the book again. This means that the editor goes through the book sentence by sentence and discusses with the author where he sees a need for revision. In fiction books, this often concerns the drawing of the characters in the book, the logical sequence of events in the plot or the dramaturgical composition of the material. In the case of non-fiction books, however, the publisher's editor is usually less strict with the book text. Here, the information value comes first, and the revisions focus on comprehensibility and the correctness of the information.

When the publisher's editor and the author of a book have finished reviewing and revising the text, a proofreader also comes into play. He then controls the text. In doing so, he does not focus on the linguistic style or the content of the text, but on thespelling, orthography, Grammar andpunctuation. He is familiar with the new German spelling and corrects all typing errors. Often he only comes into play after the flag has been drawn up, since duplications of words, etc. can also arise when composing the book. However, it is also possible to commission the work before and after the book has been set.

Marketing when publishing the book

When a publisher has determined the cover, the blurb, the book text, the typesetting, the typography (often depending on the series in which a book is made) and the price of a book, the work is printed. At this point in time, the publishing house's marketing machinery was already up and running.

The publisher included the book in its publishing program even before it was finished. The work is now available to booksellers, newspaper editors, the public and competition juries. Review copies will be sent out, maybe a reading tour will be planned, and press appointments will be made with the author to introduce him to the public. Now, after writing in the quiet little room and working on the book with the publisher's editor, the third part on the way to book success begins: marketing.

Many authors find this part of their job the most stressful and are happy when the publisher does most of the marketing of their book for them. More and more often, however, the authors have to take part in the marketing themselves. It is expected that the scribes will be available for interviews and readings (online and offline). If the marketing budget is rather small, the author should also draw attention to his work via various social media channels and be in contact with the community and his audience. After all, the publisher and author pull together and are equally interested in making the book a success.

Fig. 2: Publishing the production pyramid when publishing a book (Source: Draksal, 2005)

We hope we haven't discouraged you from publishing a book. But you should be aware of the circumstances that await you if you want to join the group of authors. If you still want to pursue your dream, you should internalize this guide as best you can to be prepared for the undertaking. We wish you good luck!