From Rick:

I’m just coming off a busy, week-long vacation to the California National Parks (King’s Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite, Death Valley) plus other places of interest along the way, so I’m going to keep this week’s post short. Besides, I’ll assume not all of you had time to digest that list of articles from last time.

I promised a QUIZ, so here it is.

1. Based on Anne Allen’s article (7 New writer mistakes to avoid), which is biggest overall mistake that new writers make?

(a) Not letting others read their work

(b) Not having their book properly edited

(c) Failing to research how publishing works today

(d) Believing that nonfiction is easier to write than fiction

(e) Not reading the work of published writers

(f) Self-publishing their work

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2. The best way to negotiate a book deal is to

(a) know what you want and do it yourself.

(b) find a reputable agent and trust that agent will do it right.

(c) be willing to compromise rather than let a deal slip away.

(d) assume that an agent and publisher have your best interest at heart.

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3. TRUE OR FALSE. If you take the time to write, edit, design a good book cover, have a good title, and market your book extensively, then chances are good that you will have success with your first book.

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4. TRUE OR FALSE. It’s hard to make a bestseller list, but once you do, your book sales will take off.

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5. When it comes to bestseller lists today, which of the following are true? (choose all that apply)

(a) A book on a bestseller list will attract a movie deal.

(b) They’re mostly useless and meaningless when it comes to promotion.

(c) In general, bestseller lists accurately reflect strong sales.

(d) The New York Times rigs its bestseller lists.

(e) You can hit a bestseller list with as few as 5000 sales.

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6. Compared to 10–20 years ago, how easy is it today to land a publishing deal with a major publisher?

(a) Much easier

(b) About the same

(c) Much harder

(d) Nearly impossible

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7. TRUE OR FALSE. Major authors like John Grisham and Danielle Steel are making as much money, or more, today than they did ten years ago.

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8. What are the biggest problems many established writers face today? (choose all that apply)

(a) Being dropped by their publishers

(b) Declining sales

(c) Refusing to switch over to self-publishing

(d) Being clueless about going out on their own

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9. Once you choose your book’s title and are self-publishing, you should change it

(a) only if you discover that another book has the same title.

(b) never.

(c) if it does not reflect what the book is about or it’s misleading.

(d) only before you publish it, but never after.

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10. TRUE OR FALSE. A big mistake many writers make is failure to understand the value of their work and how to protect their rights.

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ANSWERS

1. (C) While the first 5 of these are common mistakes (self-publishing is not a mistake unless you do it poorly), all of these result from the writer’s failure to research and understand how publishing works today. Too many remember what it was like in the past, and some even then didn’t know how things worked. Myths and ignorance abounded then and still do today, but today there is truly no excuse for being misinformed except that the writer is too lazy to bother looking up the information.

2. (A) If you believe otherwise, you are seriously deluding yourself.

3. FALSE. While all of these things will help (and certainly ignoring them will hurt), nothing can guarantee success. Do your best, cross your fingers, and keep writing good books will provide the best route to potential success.

4. FALSE AND FALSE. It’s not hard to make some bestseller list somewhere, but having done so means very little except to your own ego. Very few readers care or pay attention to the fact that you made a list. The only possible benefit it that doing so may give you greater visibility. A lot of bad books make bestseller lists, so at least make sure that your book is good in the first place. Some bad books may sell well initially, but rarely for very long.

5. (B), (D), (E)

6. (D). (C) is an acceptable answer, depending on your perspective, but even years ago landing a publishing deal was still extremely difficult, more so than most authors realized. Today it’s just not worth trying for a publishing deal with a major publisher because you almost certainly be wasting time trying. At least with self-publishing, the book is out there instead of languishing on some desk just waiting to be rejected.

(7) FALSE. Most such authors are making half or a fraction of what they did previously, and often only from their loyal readers.

(8) (ALL OF THESE)

(9) (C) Book titles can very difficult to get right, and too many authors don’t give their title the thought it needs. It’s rarely wise to change a title after publication because that can lead to confusion and possibly some angry readers (especially if you change the cover as well) who might purchase the book not realizing it’s the same book. The best course if to make sure the title is right and accurately conveys the type of book it is. While it’s a good idea to avoid duplicate titles, it’s nearly impossible to find a title that hasn’t been used or is close to yours.

(10) (TRUE) Absolutely true. Writers may undervalue their work or overvalue it, but more often they don’t know how to properly protect their rights. I’m not referring to the copyright but to ensuring that others (agents and publishers) don’t exploit your rights or tie them up with licensing so that you effectively lose control of them. Having a registered copyright won’t prevent others from taking advantage of you.

–Rick