Publishing a 3rd-party book–Choosing an author

The author’s first responsibility is to create the outline for the book. You may have a broad idea of what you want the book to look like, but the author will flesh out the outline. The author submits the detailed outline to your company for approval. Once the outline is approved, the author should submit a schedule. The outline should have been reviewed by the time you start contract negotiations with the publisher, and both the outline and schedule should be approved by the time you sign the contract with the publisher. You and the author should be ready for the author to start writing the instant the ink dries on the publishing contract.

The first question companies usually have about the author is “Do we pay the author, too?” No, your company doesn’t have to worry about paying the author; the publisher will do that. As a matter of fact, the author will probably be rather pleased with this kind of book deal, as they’ll be able to calculate their royalties on the pre-sold copies up front and possibly negotiate a bigger advance as a result. In the example above, if the author got a 12% royalty against publisher’s net, the royalty on the pre-sold copies alone would total $17,976. In addition, with a $60,000 down payment, the author could reasonably expect an advance of $7200 for 12%, higher than the typical $5000-6000 advance payment. On top of all of this, the monies due the publisher would all come in within the first 90 days of the book’s life, guaranteeing the author a substantial and predictable payment within the first year of the book’s life, a much faster rate of return than most third-party books will produce.

Who you choose for the author will depend on the nature of the book, of course. You may have someone in your company who can write the book, either as part of their duties or as a special project. (Note: if they’re writing the book in addition to their regular duties, don’t expect great job performance or even full-time hours from them during that period. They’ll be too tired.)

On the other hand, you may want to bring in a special writer with specific industry expertise and name recognition (this may cost you a little extra). Some companies like to split the difference and have two people listed as authors: the company founder or other luminary as the first author, whose name may be purely for the swank value, and the second author, who actually does most of the writing. The circumstances for this will differ from book to book. Be flexible, and don’t be afraid to ask the publisher for suggestions, either; they’ll probably have a much larger stable of potential authors from which to choose.

Finally, it’s reasonable to expect to have control over the choice of author; after all, it’s your company’s money. Choose an author you have confidence in.

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