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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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Old 05-24-2016, 09:24 AM
isleomaniac isleomaniac is offline
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Default book publishers

Frank, what are your experiences with getting a fishing book published? Any advice, reco's etc.

Thanks
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Old 05-24-2016, 10:20 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

I've had a lot of book experience, some of it bad. The question of self-publishing comes up a lot. I self-published my first book, "Twenty Years on the Cape" after the original publisher, Tim Coleman, went out of the book publishing business. No one wanted an old book so I had to do it myself. It had been enormously successful with a publisher the first printing and there was a clear demand. I made a ton of money on the second run because the income is all yours, inspite of reduced circulation/sales. Big trade off, because while you get all the money, you get all the work. You have to be willing to beat the bushes, call B&Ts and book stores. I would never self-publish again. Those who have tried self-publishing enjoy an early burst of sales, then it goes flat just the way I did. I say get a publisher because they know how to generate reviews and get your book out there.

All generalizations are dangerous but usually a self-published title is one that publishers will not take. They know. An idea that is too regional, too limited, low sales potential from an unknown author is doomed. (I think your question has the potential to provide a lot of response and copy. Thanks for putting it up.) More tomorrow and many days after.
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Old 05-25-2016, 04:15 PM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

Here is a comparative examination of cost/profit issues publisher verses self pub:

Using a publisher book sells for $20 author gets 10% of the wholesale price = $1.00.
Self-published he gets to keep the entire $20 if he sells it himself.
If he places the book in a shop he gets $10.

On the surface it appears to be a no-brainer to self publish but the numbers self-publishing are drastically reduced. You sell 100 books yourself = $2,000.

You place 300 books at $10 ea wholesale in shops = $3,000.

If you thought you were going to do well and had 2,000 printed, your estate is going to deal with taking 1600 books to the dump. The 2,000 books cost you $8,000 ($4 ea) to have printed without an editor. You lost $3,000 with the venture and wrote the book for nothing.

A successful book with an experienced publisher, assuming you can get a publisher to accept your book proposal, and the sonofabitch can move books, is an all-together different story. My second title, "Striper Surf", had 13 printings and stayed in print for 25 years and still pays a small royalty twice a year. Counting my sales, I stopped counting the money at $35,000 so it is still spitting nickels. If it is a good book and a publisher thinks so and takes it, you make more money, if the publisher is not always on the golf course. It is not advisable to self publish.

Tomorrow, if I can remember to do so, I will elaborate on spin-offs from a book.

Your questions, remarks, are invited to keep this thread alive.
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Old 05-25-2016, 05:52 PM
Chris Garrity Chris Garrity is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

Amazon has removed a lot of the economic barriers to self-publishing. Whereas it used to cost you at least a few thousand clams to get a book published -- you had to go to a "Vanity Publishing" press, which required the purchase of a minimum number of books (i.e. hard copies), now you can do it with Amazon Kindle virtually free.

And there have a few authors who have made it this way: a few years ago, Forbes ran a story (I read it either there or in The Journal of Competitive Scandanavian Nudity) about a guy named Mark Dawson, who was making half a million clams a year, all from self-published books. He's been so successful at it that he's started a company that gives advice to other writers looking to self-publish.

To be fair, though, it seems that there is still an artistic stigma around self-publishing. The "If your book was any good, you'd have an agent" kind of deal.
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Old 05-26-2016, 08:57 AM
isleomaniac isleomaniac is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

Thanks Frank, that was very helpful information. I self published a small book 30 years ago, and was able to sell enough on my tours and in a few bookstores to make it worthwhile, I only have 5 left after 2 runs of 500 each. It was a good experience anyway.
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Old 05-26-2016, 10:19 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

If books are to meet their implied promise, meaning that only good books which have suitable value make the marketplace, then the system of publishers who know more than authors should make the decision about what goes to print. Authorship is a minefield of misdirected, dilushonal (sp) dreamers who are not qualified to write a book and the publishers know it. All my life I have known fishermen who thought they were authors who could not write a letter to their mother. Publishers spot those guys early. Certainly, if a person never published even a magazine article they have no business trying to write a book. Self-publishing is a way around the systems pitfalls and while on the surface it appears as an alternative it permits low grade authorship into the literary tabernacle. I happen to be one who believes that if a number of publishers won't take your idea, you just might not have a good idea. They protect you from making a mistake. In the end crap out there in the book stores is bad for everybody. Take a look at some of the books on fishing that have been self-published and you will understand why so many suitable buyers, fishermen, do not buy fishing books. On the other hand a book from Stackpole or Crown has scaled the walls of the literary convent.
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Old 05-26-2016, 10:29 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

Quote:
Originally Posted by isleomaniac View Post
Thanks Frank, that was very helpful information. I self published a small book 30 years ago, and was able to sell enough on my tours and in a few bookstores to make it worthwhile, I only have 5 left after 2 runs of 500 each. It was a good experience anyway.
What do you think of my remarks? Would you do it again? What was the subject of your book?

Writing a book is a lot of work. I would say 1000 hours, a half year. For that I would want at least $25,000 in royalties. Sure, there may be more to it than just the money but that attitude will fade quickly after you have written a few.
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:33 AM
isleomaniac isleomaniac is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

I will also look into what Chris Garrity has posted about Kindle etc. I have had 6 magazine articles published over the years, on a variety of subjects. I was able to sell a decent amount of my 50 page self published book on my Cuttyhunk and Elizabeth Islands Tours, when I worked for the Mass. Audubon Society. I did the tours for 19 years, from 1985 to 2004, and took a total of 6000 people on about 140 trips where I gave commentary on the boat, and guided walks on Cuttyhunk. The booklet was on a variety of subjects, including natural and human history, fishing, etc. I am considering another small book project on fishing.
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Old 05-27-2016, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: book publishers

Everybody's situation is different. For most moving copies of a self-published book is a chore that does not pay for itself. On the other hand, with my "Twenty Years on the Cape", first published by a publisher who went out of business and then "Vanity" published, I made more money the second time, self-published, than I did the first. For one thing I sold more copies than he. Secondly, I got to keep more money. But it came out the second time to a market that knew me and I was at the height of my seminar and magazine writing career. If your name is out there people know you and a certain amount of trust and confidence from the angling public keeps public interest.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:06 AM
dz dz is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

My self published book started out as an article that Tim Coleman asked me to write about Block Island for The Fisherman Magazine. It ended up way to long so I decided to keep writing. I worked on it for over 10 years by doing lots of interviews and old time research including sources. It became a labor of love. I never thought I'd like writing but now consider it another passion. I did very short print runs of 300 copies because I wasn't sure how it would sell and didn't want a basement full of non sellable books. I'm now into my fourth print run but the amount of copies I print is down to 50 at a time. I make enough extra cash for my surf casting habit. All my initial costs were covered easily by my first print run. I'm a little different than Frank as I'm content with how the book is selling. After three years on the market I still get a few Amazon sales per month and have the summer market sales each season in a Block Island book store. When it rains on Block people read books and my book sells well on the island. I tried to get my book published through Burford but was rejected and told they didn't publish memoirs. I think another reason was I have no formal education in writing and my book was too specific and had a very small targeted market. Overall I'm very happy I wrote it as I was able to accurately document a very important period in surfcasting history.
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:18 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

Very interesting post, Dennis. Burford might have done you a favor by not taking it because his editing is weak and his sales not much better. My "Fly Fishing the Striper Surf" has been a dismal failure partly because of poor sales effort and sloppy editing. He lost the entire front section of the book which sets the tone for the entire tome. A result is that the book never got out of its advance and I got a mere initial $2500.

Overly regional directed books as well as memoirs are common reasons for publisher rejection. Regionals are too limiting for the market which is why I couldn't get a bigger publisher to take my "Twenty Years on the Cape". It was also a memoir. Also a lot of publishers are no better than you and I at publishing. Inasmuch as they have done it before, it is reasonable to expect more from them. Now if one of us had a blockbuster like those that Tom Clancy was writing, a good agent could get you a fortune. That doesn't happen in fishing books. All of us are happy to get a publisher but, like authors, there are publishers and there are publishers. By the time you find that out your book is stuck in some sort of literary limbo. It is not selling and publishing rights belong to a guy who drinks his wine in a paper bag. Its like marrying the wrong person. As publishers want good authors, we should be more choosy about our publishers. But we want it so bad that we are thrilled to make the score.

As you can see, I love seeing posts on this favorite subject, especially from someone like yourself who has jumped through the hoops as I have. Good to hear from you.
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:42 AM
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Default Re: book publishers

There are spin-offs from writing a book which have both monetary and social value. Most of my books, paid for themselves handsomely. Who can bitch about 35 K? And the others nearly as well. Then there is the fame of a successful title that leads to booking for signings and seminars where you sell books to anglers. Remember that in my early numbers you buy a book at Barnes and Noble, I get a dollar; but when you buy one from me I get that dollar plus $10 more for selling it; markups are better than royalities.

The social value is when you stop to buy eels and a guy buying worms recognizes you and goes into orbit. Another: one time at a blackjack table at Foxwoods, the dealer was shuffling up and we players were chatting and, as usual, I mentioned striper fishing and deer hunting as being way more fun than blackjack. So this fox at our table says she just read a great book on striper fishing. "What was the title," I asked. "Striper Surf", she replied. "Good book", me confessing with a grin, "I wrote it." She went into orbit and I felt good. What is that worth for the author?
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Old 05-30-2016, 04:39 PM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: book publishers

Its a roll of the dice whether you get a publisher with a responsible editor to put it all together. You can have a publisher who has an editor working there who changes jobs or the editor doesn't have his act together. Never mind the editor who lost a whole section of my fly fishing book, I had a contract to revise "Striper Surf", was paid a $1500 advance, did the revisions and the publisher never used them. They never told me why it was a good idea one day, paid for the work, then never used it. I assume the organization lacked continuity. Having an author who can write a good book is one thing but everybody along the line -- author, publisher, editor -- also has to get it right.
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: book publishers

Something I should have mentioned about royalty contracts is that after the sale of 10,000 copies the royalty goes up from 10% of the wholesale price to 15%. A number of my books did go on to the "advanced royalty": "Striper Surf" and "The Trophy Striper" did. It doesn't sound like much but it represents a 50% increase in the royalty rate. As this happens late in a book's marketing , if the publisher unloads 100 copies you get $150 instead of $100. Of course sales are slowing down by then. Woolner used to call it "new money for old rope" or the "old soldier's pension". It pays for gear and ammo.
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Old 06-04-2016, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: book publishers

Authorship adds to a person's credential which helps some people in the other parts of their careers. I noticed a lot of editors of big New York mags end up writing a book which, when compared to what they get as editors, they really are not doing it for the royalty money. I mean when you are the fishing editor of huge outdoor magazine, a fishing book is no big deal. What are they going to make? Ten grand? But maybe, because I really don't know, it is a form of validation. Actually, a lot of big names don't bother. I know that I wrote for Jerry Gibbs of Outdoor Life for years and he never wrote a book. Frank Woolner, on the other hand, wrote a bunch of books. Some do, some don't. I can't footnote it but I think the most widely circulated striper book ever written was my "Striper Surf". My wife Joyce, the one who can shoot the nuts off a field mouse at 100 yards with open sites, says that "Striper Surf" is my signature title. We can all be sure that she would give an unbiased statement.
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