Don’t do it!

Never, ever release any of your rights. Here’s why.

The Writer’s Goal

Winning the writing game means becoming an establishedauthor, one who sells a new book every year or two. One whoearns enough to live comfortably from his or her writing alone.

The first step toward achieving this goal is to be publishedby a major house in the real world. That is, offline. Most willnot even consider your book if you’ve muddied the water byreleasing or selling any rights to it.

Sure, there are exceptions. Some have self-published, thenlater made a deal with a major house. And the stories make grandreading. But there are not a lot of them.

The Better Plan

If you are serious about writing, grab a copy of “Writer’sMarket,” then read and follow the rules. While many publishersbuy an occasional manuscript directly from an author, your bestbet is to find an agent and leave the manner of presentation topublishers in capable hands. (An agent is worth his or herweight in gold in helping you decipher a contract!)

It will probably take some time to find an agent. Beginanother tale while doing so. And once you find one, whilewaiting further and hoping for great news, continue writing. Ifthe agent you found can’t make it happen, look for another. Butkeep writing.

Again, there are success stories of those who bypassedagents and went directly to a publisher. But unless you’re oneheck of a salesperson and really in tune with what eachpublisher is looking for, leave it all to an agent, and do whatyou do best. Namely, write.

How Rights Released Can Bite

Bingo. You’ve made a sale. A good house, too. You and youragent are jumping with joy. Hey, you’re on your way!

But wait one. A few years back, electronic rights werenegotiable, and often retained by the author. So you releasedthese rights, or part of them, to gain some exposure on the Web.But now your publisher-to-be wants them. What for?

Books by major authors are selling in electronic formats.The entire publishing industry is closely tuned in to thisrapidly changing part of the book arena.

Okay, back to the what your publisher-to-be wants. Will theygo through the legal hassles and pay the costs to recover thoserights you handed out? Or will they just grab another title fromthe in-stack? If you were in their position, what would you do?

The bottom line? You have just lost a shot at the big time.You get to start over with a new book. And you’ll probably haveto hunt up another agent as well.

Why Risk it?

Don’t sell or release any of your rights to any of your workuntil absolutely convinced it is not salable to a major printpublisher. Then, and only then, should you consider taking it tothe Web and seeing what you can make happen.

A Case In Point

I finished “They Who Betray” (available on this site) inlate 1991. I gave up trying to sell it in 1994. Even earlier, itwas obvious major houses were no longer interested in this kindof tale. The manuscript has been dozing on various computerdisks ever since.

While I’d love to have sold it to Pocket Book, I wasn’t ableto. So off to the Web I have gone. I’m excited about thepossibilities. While fame and glory is unlikely to be obtained,lots of people will find they like the tale. And that will be awin for me, any way you look at it.

But I would never have made this move had I believed therewas even a chance of selling it to a major house. If you’reserious about your writing career, you’ll follow the same path.Head for the Web as the last resort, never as the startingpoint.

One Exception

All who climb a mountain do not hunger to become a notedmountaineer. And all who write a book, do not yearn to be anestablished author. So if you wrote a book for the fun of it,and now want to share it with family and friends, jump rightinto the Web bit.

Check out services available or self-publish on your own.Either way, go for it.

Play By The Rules

But if you’re serious about writing and dream of becoming anestablished author, take the conservative, conventional route.This gives you the greatest opportunity for success.

Yes, I know. The competition is fierce. But there’s a bit ofthis on the Web as well. The last numbers I saw suggest thereare over 100,000 titles available on the Internet.

To sell effectively through any website, you’ll need a heckof a book. Then you’ll have to somehow find your way beyond allthose “Buy-Me!” pleas associated with each and every one ofthose 100,000+ titles.

Can it be done? Sure. But it’s not easy. Certainly it’s noteasier than gaining the confidence of an agent who can sell yourwork to a major publishing house.