Monday, October 22, 2007

The Magic 8 Ball Says...

My publisher sold paperback rights for my picture book to Scholastic Book Club, which was a good thing, I think. My publisher's letter told me what my advance would be and that it would be payable 1/2 upon their receipt from Scholastic and 1/2, plus sample copies, upon publication. I got the first half, but have received neither the second part nor, more distressing to me (because the advance is paltry anyway), the sample copies. I know the book is out because teacher friends showed me the Scholastic flyer and last night a friend showed me the book. So who do I ask about this (without upsetting anyone, since they are publishing a second book and have a third under consideration?) My editor on that book? My editor on the second book? The publicist assigned to me? The president who sent the letter? Someone else, like whoever answers the phone? I would really appreciate some advice.
The editor you've worked with most recently. She may ask the editorial assistant to follow up on this, but you should go to your editor first. She's supposed to be your first contact at the publisher, and this is not an unusual request. Don't, please, go hunting up random people to bother with your questions. If your editor is hard to get in touch with, cultivate a relationship with the editorial assistant. (Editorial assistants are a bit of information desk, customer service, records, R&D, receptionist, and reviewer all rolled into one. If they can do everything, eventually they'll become an editor. In the meantime, they are your go-to when you don't know who to ask.)

Just say cheerfully that you've noticed the book is out and you were wondering when you'd see the sample copies and the rest of your advance. You may in fact be doing your publisher a favor—if you haven't gotten your money, they may not have gotten theirs, and they'll be glad to be reminded that Scholastic owes them money.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This presumes that every editor has an assistant. Sometimes they don't!

BookEmDano said...

It's the job of the subrights dept to send the sample copies out-- as the gal who used to do this, I can tell you that I usually let a bunch pile up before sending the sample copies out. But you're certainly entitled to them, and if the book is out, then those sample copies are somewhere in your publishing house, probably in the subrights assistant's cube. The editor on the book that was licensed to Scholastic should know.

Kidlitjunkie said...

As bookemdano said, this is the domain of subrights. That said, if you are concerned about a missing payment and you don't have a cultivated relationship with your subrights person, the person to talk to is your editor/editorial assistant. Even if they don't know the answer, they can talk to the subrights person and make sure everything gets worked out.

Nancy said...

"Don't, please, go hunting up random people to bother with your questions."

Am I the only reader to be taken aback here? EA, you seem to consider an author asking about her business -- and monies owed her, however "paltry" -- to be a "bother." If so, you might want to make a point of hiding this attitude from any authors/illustrators you actually work with.

-Nancy Werlin

Editorial Anonymous said...

I didn't mean it that way, Nancy. That is to say, it's no trouble at all when authors come to me with questions of any sort. Other people at the company, though (subrights, eg), do not think of themselves as on the frontline of author support, and may be a little bit bothered or simply confused if an author contacts them directly. And this is fair. Every publishing house knows a couple authors (out of their hundreds) who don't just have the occasional polite question, but who want to check up on every aspect of their book's life several times a month. That's why editors are meant to be the primary contact at the house—so that the editor can monitor the relationship and talk the occasional author down from obsessive behaviors.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing these kinds of issues. There are many books out there on so called 'breaking into' publishing, but I find it hard to find any real info on the nuts and bolts of basically working with publishers in a day to day way. I have done many books over many years, and I still find I have a need to know 'simple' stuff like this - like who to talk to about specific questions and so on. More please! I know it's not as flashy as some other topics, but I love when you address issues like this.

Anonymous said...

You will be happy with your bookclub sales. The royalties are received about two months after each six month sales period. And your advance will come.
Been there, done that.