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September 06, 2011


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Balazs Csurgo

@dmscott Nice to meet you! My wife is a writter. Please look my story www.millionairesrecord.5mp.eu. Thanks. Have a good day.

Phil Simon

Good post. I'd argue that most publishers won't do anything near what Wiley did for you--until you have proven that you can sell books. Once you've done that, they're more open to some of the things that you've mentioned. If any first-time or even repeat author expected so much distribution, then s/he would never get a deal in the first place.


TY for sharing this advice, David, and for sure -- clarifying RE: "advances." I think there are widespread misconceptions regarding that arrangement, as well as royalties. There's much to be known about publishing a book, with many choices...

David Meerman Scott

Phil - You are right about the translations of course. Those come with domestic sales track record. But the rest happen for most Wiley authors.

Becky - Indeed there is much misinformation. But the most common one I see is about advances.


David, you very nicely tell the reality of working with a publisher here. They don't edit, they don't market and to some extent, they don't really pay. You do get your book in a bookstore with the right publisher and you get the kind of credibility that comes from having been published by a legitimate trade publisher. Most people are not aware of these realities. What was interesting for me was the concept of taking a small advance. It gives you the opportunity to get published again. If the traditional publishing route is what someone wants, this advice, while counterintuitive, might serve their purpose.

David Meerman Scott

Ilana - yes, that's right. It is a brutal business. But for me at least, working with Wiley beats having books in my garage and going to the post office every day.

Sonja Jefferson

Thanks so much for this David.

I'm just starting to write my own with UK publisher Kogan Page and all these tips are gold.

I've struggled with the publish/self-publish dilemma (my main concern with going through a traditional publisher was control) but like you decided that for this first book, their distribution network is vital. Hope I've made the right decision!

Do keep the tips coming, and thanks again.


David Meerman Scott

Sonia - congrats. You should definitely be publishing other things for free (ebooks, blog, videos, whatever) that build your platform before your book launch.

Sonja Jefferson

Thanks David. Blog is well established but ebooks and videos needed. Good reminder!

Nick Morgan

David --
Thanks for these blogs on publishing. Your advice is spot on. There is a good debate on whether to take as large an advance as possible (figuring you're not likely to get any more money out of the publisher, so get it while you can) or a small one (so that you can live to fight another day, as you recommend). I think the answer to that should depend on what your long-term goal is.

And I should add that in the public speaking business, a book is still an essential piece of your marketing and credentials -- and a traditionally published book at that. Self-publishing doesn't do it. The exception to that rule is someone who has a huge platform or community supporting them already. Then, if you've already got the audience, self-publishing can be very attractive because you get to keep so much more of the proceeds. In that case, distribution is not a problem because you can distribute the book yourself through the community/platform.

I get questions every day from first-time authors and wannabes, and it's clear that most have the following fantasy: your book is published, and one fine day a limo drives up to your door. While you sip champagne and admire the flowers, you're driven to a chi-chi bookstore or other venue, where you deliver a brilliant talk on the subject of your book to an overflowing crowd, all of whom line up to get their copies autographed by you after the talk. Repeat fantasy in select cities around the world.

Alas, that's fantasy these days, not reality.

Traditional publishers don't market, don't edit, don't promote, and don't arrange book tours (except in very rare circumstances). Those are valuable services, but they have all been outsourced to a variety of companies like PR firms, and so on. That means the author has to hire those firms separately, and pay them to do these things. Traditional publishers don't do anything really except print the book (which they often outsource) and distribute it.

We often work with second-time authors who feel betrayed by that experience with a traditional publisher the first time around, because it didn't match the fantasy. Thanks for your blogs which will help burst that bubble and so save some heartache.

David Meerman Scott

Hey Nick - Thanks so much for these words of wisdom- a very valuable addition to the topic. You're right that the choice of how to published does depend on the goals.


Great info! Thanks for sharing this

Counseling Jacksonville Fl

Thanks so much for these terms of wisdom- a very useful inclusion to the subject. You're right that the option of how to released does rely on the objectives.

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