What is the difference between self-publishing, traditional publishing and entrepreneurial publishing? What kind of publishing does TAG do?
Publishing has changed a great deal in the last five years. In the past, books were sold predominantly in bookstores on a consignment basis. This means the publisher sent the books to the bookstore for free and if the books weren’t sold, they were returned to the publishers by the bookstore and the publisher was only paid for books that were sold. As time, costs and technology have advanced it has become cheaper to destroy the unsold books rather than ship them back so often as much as 50% (or more!) of the books you see on bookstore shelves are ‘ripped and stripped’ – meaning the covers are removed and the books shredded and then an affidavit noting the number of destroyed books is sent to the publisher. This is extremely wasteful and with shipping and warehousing costs escalating each year, the profit has been squeezed to a tiny amount.
Now, as sales from internet companies such as Amazon.com have skyrocketed and digital publishing technology has improved, many publishers are now going to the print on demand model. This means that once a book is ordered and paid for online, it is printed within 24 hours and shipped directly to the customer. It is very efficient and there is no waste. It also eliminates warehousing and shipping costs. The books are available through distributors such as Ingram Distributing to a large number of booksellers and anyone can walk into virtually any bookstore and order the book. Book buyers are also able to order the book and stock it in their stores if they so choose. Most of the large publishers have already moved their backlist to the print on demand model and some are even using it for debut books by new authors. This is the future of the book business as more bookstores, such as Borders, close their doors.
In traditional publishing, a publisher offers you a (usually) small upfront advance for your book. They then make all the decisions as far as the title, cover and how it is marketed. This process can take 2-3 years or more from the time you have a finished manuscript to shop around. J.K. Rowling spent 10 years getting her first book completed and published. The publisher agrees to pay you a royalty (usually 6%-10%) and once you have sold enough copies to earn back that advance they paid you, then you start earning royalties at that same rate. And understand that is 8%-10% of the NET sale price of the book, not the retail price. Needless to say this is a long tedious process and you must sell a large number of books to even make a modest income.
Self-publishing is at the other end of the spectrum. You write your book and then publish it yourself. You create the cover, do the editing, organize the marketing and get the books to the customers. Unfortunately it has gotten a bad name because so many self-published books are very poor quality. This is also not a cheap process. As most self-published authors soon discover, they must have their book available in the distribution channel in order to have any hope of sales beyond their local market. This means making it available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other sites. There are companies that can help you and offer packages that include many of these items but you must be aware that they rarely provide you with first class editing or artwork for your cover or assist you with real world market knowledge. They are producing widgets and that’s it. The costs can be as low as about $1900 up to a very large outlay of cash depending on what you are getting.
What kind of books does TAG accept and how does it work?
TAG accepts nonfiction, fiction, humor and children’s books. Each area is treated differently because the markets are very different.
Nonfiction – many of our nonfiction authors are writing a book to showcase their expertise and draw more customers to their existing business or to a new business they are starting. For example, a business person may write a book when they leave the corporate world and become a consultant. This allows them to increase the awareness of their new business and have a platform that allows their knowledge to shine. Realtors may write a book to increase their listings. Chiropractors may write a book to attract new patients. These are just a few examples. Almost all of our nonfiction authors have a ghostwriter or writing coach because as business people they don’t have the time to sit at the typewriter and write. This is how Donald Trump and about 70% of all nonfiction authors get their books written. Do you really think that big time athletes and stars like Brittany Spears type out their own books? No, they don’t. Just like you hire an accountant or an attorney for their expertise, a writing coach or ghostwriter offers that same level of expertise in the area of book creation. They can interview you and then take your ideas and stories and create something wonderful in a very short period of time. It is 100% your book, you just have an industry expert do the physical typing and shaping of the information.Once the book is created, the publishing contract is very similar across all the types of books we offer, in that the author receives 50% of net sales, paid quarterly as long as the amount is more than $600, if not it is paid annually.
Fiction – the fiction market is very different. We are fiction authors too, and our mission is to discover new and emerging talent. While we will review a vast array of fiction books, we only publish what we like. For that reason we want manuscripts that are already finished. TAG does not offer ghostwriting for fiction. We work very closely with our fiction authors on revisions to make the book as good as it can be. Many novels come to us via our Great American Novel Contest each year, but no matter if you enter the contest or submit directly to us, you get the same quality evaluation. If we decide your book may be the right fit, we offer you a contract. Authors we find via our contest do not pay anything upfront for any aspect of book production nor will they ever be required to buy any books! We withhold a small amount of royalties once the book starts selling and after that the royalty percentage is 50/50 as with our other book lines. The optimal way to submit fiction to us, is via our Great American Novel contest we hold each year. You can read about it HERE. Our main purpose is to grow the market of our fiction authors so they can make a living writing. We do one book contract at a time and if one of our authors were to take their next book to a large publisher, we would consider that a win for everyone. However, most of our authors have discovered that they make much more money in royalties by being TAG Authors! We also help fiction authors who want to self publish their own titles, but don't want the hassle of managing the editing, layout, design and sometimes even marketing. We can provide these service on an individual basis or as a package depending on the needs of that author.
Children’s – the children’s market is a tough one and most children’s books don’t make money. The vast majority of the time, we choose the illustrator for our children’s books. If the author wants to work with a particular illustrator, we will consider it but the artwork must conform to our professional standards and must reflect what we feel to be the market. Otherwise another illustrator will need to be chosen. We also assist authors in the children's market who want to self publish and as with fiction we can provide various services in a cost effective manner depending on that author's goals.
How do I submit a book for consideration?
You can submit to us by sending the first 7500 words and a 750 word synopsis via email. You can send to: info at tagpublishers.com. In the subject line, note that it is a submission and what kind, for example: Fiction Submission or Children’s Book Submission. We accept word files and pdf files only.
How long does it take for TAG to respond to a submission?
We will usually email you a confirmation that we received the submission within one week. If you don’t get a confirmation, please resend. We will respond to the submission in usually less than 90 days and sometimes much faster. After 90 days if you haven’t gotten a response, please email us to check on it.
What is Author School?
Author School is a three day intense seminar that teaches authors how to be authors in the real world. We teach how to approach and talk to the media, how to get social networking and marketing on your side and how to build a business around your book. We also teach you how to host our proprietary bestseller campaign to help your book achieve #1 bestseller status. TAG authors can come to this seminar for free and once you are a TAG author you can re-audit the seminar for free at any time.
How often does TAG offer Author Schools?
We currently offer Author School twice each year at various locations around the U.S. and plan to soon have on online Author School available for those that can’t make a live event.
Do I have to be a TAG author to attend Author School?
No. If you know a TAG author or have been referred to us, you may attend Author School for free. If you don’t know anyone and just want to attend, you can pay a fee to do so. Currently that fee is $1,995 USD.
Do I have to have my book completed before coming to Author School?
No, in fact it can benefit you to attend while you are still working on your book as you will then know how to do some pre-release marketing and can practice your interview skills before the book goes ‘live’. Because TAG authors can attend Author School repeatedly for free, there is no reason you can’t attend while you are working on your book and then right before the book is released, come back for a refresher course.
How long does a typical nonfiction book need to be?
The optimal length is 50,000 words. This will produce a book that is between 200-220 pages. The books that are this length sell very well because they are the size someone can easily read on a plane and they don’t overwhelm the reader with a huge number of concepts. Our humor books are around this length as well.
What length fiction does TAG accept?
We like fiction that is about 70,000 words. We will accept fiction from 50,000 up to the 90,000 word count. This allows us to control the cost of producing the book and still sell it at a competitive price. We only produce trade size fiction and do not do any mass market size versions.
What is the process TAG uses to help me create my book?
If you are wanting to write a non-fiction book and have just an idea, then we will have a couple of calls to flesh out your ideas. Then you will work with a writing coach or ghostwriter to complete the draft. Usually this means weekly calls to collect information and stories to be used in the book. The writer produces each chapter and sends to the author to review. They then discuss changes that need to be made. Once the full draft is complete, the process is the same for both fiction and non-fiction books.
The finished manuscript goes to editing. There are several levels of editing TAG does. The first is content – to be sure that it flows logically and isn’t missing any concepts that the book promised the reader. Then it is edited for sentence style, transitions and general readability. The last step is a copy edit which catches any final grammatical errors. The author will see a pdf of the layout before the book goes to print and can make small changes or note anything that was missed. The author must approve the final layout before print.
While your book is off in editing, we will be finalizing the front and back cover as well as creating your electronic media kit and marketing material files.
What is in the media kit and marketing material files?
The media kit is a multipage electronic pdf file that includes a picture of your book, your bio and photo, a press release, an overview of the content, book information such as price and ISBN, and an order form. Many authors put these on their websites so the media can download them. They can also be emailed to committees who are considering you for a speaking engagement.
The marketing materials consist of four additional pdf files. These include a 11x17 poster you can use for book signings and appearances, a postcard to announce your events, a bookmark, and a business card featuring your book cover. We provide the files and you can then have them printed at the printer of your choice as needed.
Where will my book be available?
Your book will be available to all major outlets served by Ingram Distribution. This includes booksellers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe, and Australia. Our electronic distribution include these areas as well as Japan, India, and many other countries. We can never know which book buyers will like your book and stock it in a particular store but we make it available for them to review.
What about e-books?
We produce both Kindle and Nook versions of all TAG books that are text based. Some picture books are not conducive to this format so they are excluded. Kindle currently has over 60% of the e-book market and Nook has about 20%. But this changes all the time and authors must keep current on which markets are the most viable and focus on those.
What about companion workbooks?
TAG offers companion workbooks for your book if you want to hold seminars or classes. We offer the workbooks for sale in the regular book distribution channel as well so someone can go onto Amazon.com or their favorite book retailer and order both your book and your companion workbook.