I write academic works. Last year I had a book published by one of the biggest international houses. Apart from my blather here on SFN in my professional world I am well known and established, respected and people always have high expectations. It was well marketed, good reviews generally, bar the usual people who were jealous they did not write it before me. I had my royalties earlier this year, about €285 for one year. The book is about €100 on paper and obvious less in the more recently released e-version.
The publisher is happy with that. I am not making them a fortune but in a catalogue of thousands of scholarly tomes I contribute a few bob. Since last month I have been approaching publishers with another manuscript. Again very specialist but this time a follow up to a book published 25 years ago that was a 'best seller' in its own niche. I went to the original publisher who my then fellow author and I had always promised to go to first. However, they have changed the content of their catalogue and and were suggesting that I rewrite to fit in with that! Idiots! So I went to other publishers who should be interested.
I also tried last year's big international publisher, going directly to the senior editor I had to deal with for nearly a year up until release. He got back to me within two hours. He has passed on the abstract to his boss but says she will send me the formal abstract forms and eventually contract, just bear with them until she catches up after sick leave. He is in contact since to make sure I stay interested in them. It is not the content in fact, but the fact that having worked with me as an author and before that as an editor of a collection they had a great working relationship with me. I am one of the very privileged few. Hundreds of proposals go in for inclusion in their particular list every week. I did not rate my chances highly, However, when the editor told me which list I would be in I saw each of the four newest releases was written, co-written or edited by old friends or colleagues. Again. luck of the draw. But I am still not there. The big boss needs to approve despite encouraging noises so far, then the peer reviewers need to pass my formal abstract, editors will scour my manuscript for every missing comma and if included in the forthcoming publications in the catalogue I will have a great deal of work up until release a year or so on.
Norman and I usually agree on the publishing points. yes, writing is only part of the process. I spent a couple of weeks under a year on this one which is fast. My hourly rate for work so far will bee cents, by the end forget that. I also need to know how to advise them, a big international publisher, on appropriate marketing and where to find reviews. I know what I am up against, not only do I catalogue watch but I rely on publications in on line libraries where I can at least find the extracts I need. So, I have the fortune of my membership of Cambridge as a copyright library where eventually nearly all English language and several others to boot eventually find their way, then all the others like Project Gutenberg, Alex, Open Library, World Public Library and a dozen others. I cannot afford and honestly do not need all of the books and articles I need to look at. I also get a good insight into how much 'competition' there is. So, to Norman's point with that. It takes a lot of time to research whether or not there is a slot for what we are writing.
There are specialist e-publishers but the point is to be read rather than disappear in a grey mass. The big publishing houses specifically start with paper editions of non-fiction for the sakes of copyright collections they give copies to, so no royalties from them but a couple of hundred available for students, researchers and so on to access and eventually choose to buy. As Norman says, if you want easy money become a plumber.
By the way, I am not a passionate writer. I believe in what I write, but it is a hard slog. I am quite happy to have SFN alerted as comments come into jump in and out of for a good distraction. I am a touch typist so what looks like a long time writing is usually far less than it seems, here about seven or eight minutes thus far for instance. I increasingly spend time writing articles and reports, as I have to do as data comes in on my present contract, now that I am restricted with the travel. I would rather be back out on the streets with children, in a war zone or whatever rather than this. I always say no more books. I have said it again. But then somebody throws the bait...