A guide to publishing a book

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If you are an unpublished author, it may be difficult to get your first book published. These simple guidelines are designed to help you with the process.

The list of FAQs below is extracted from a book published by Penguin in 2005 called Get your book published in South Africa: (A hands-on guide for authors)

 

 

Questions and short answers. (long answers here)

Can I do my own publishing using DTP?
No, DTP is a way of designing and typesetting, not a way of publishing
Do I need an agent?
Only if you want to get published and distributed to bookstores.
Does a book need to be registered somewhere?
No. All you need is an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which you can get free from the National Library of South Africa, or we can do it for you here ISBN Number
Does copyright protect ideas?
No, only the expression of ideas. To protect an idea you need a trademark or a patent.
How does a publishing contract work?
Like any contract: it imposes legal obligations on both parties. In this case the author has to deliver a manuscript; the publisher has to publish and market the book at her cost.
How long should I wait once I have submitted my manuscript before I phone the publisher?:
A month is reasonable.
How long will it take from the time I deliver my manuscript to publication?
Nine months on average if you get accepted by a publisher but can be a substantially less if you self publish.
How many copies does the average general book in South Africa sell?
2000-3000 is considered a best seller in the SA book market.
How often are royalties paid?
Once or twice a year, in arrears for sales of the previous period.
If I use a publisher, who controls the copyright?
The publisher, but it normally reverts to you when the book goes out of print.
Should I bring my manuscript in personally and wait for an editor to see me so that I can explain the plot or contents face to face?:
No, if you self publish you can forward the manuscript to us and our editor will be in touch regarding the work you will require as there are various levels of editing that can be performed.
Should I share my ideas with a publisher won’t they steal it?
No they won’t if you have been communicating with reputable publishers, but don’t share ideas, write something first, otherwise no one takes you seriously.
Should I use colour in my book?
Not unless absolutely necessary. It is much more expensive but of course some books demand it by their very nature.
What discounts do booksellers get?
For trade (general) books, about 47%; for educational books discount is lower
What is a backlist book?
A book that has been around for more than a year
What is a frontlist book?
A new book
What is a reasonable royalty percentage?
Between 8% and 15%, but it varies depending on publisher, type of book, and the leverage you have.
What is a trade book?:
A general book selling into the consumer market
What is an imprint?
It is a trade name or brand or logo, like Penguin, Juta or PrintOnDemand.
What is the best way to approach a publisher?
Use a written proposal
What kind of style should I follow in the book?
Use a style guide in a consistent way, either a general one like the Oxford Style Manual or one provided by the publisher.
What software should I use for writing my book?
Microsoft Word
When and how can I get the rights to my book back from the publisher?:
After the book goes out of print
When do I need copyright permission?
When quoting a portion of another work
Where can I get information about publishers?
On the PASA website www.publishsa.co.za
Where does one get ISBN numbers?
Right here ISBN number.
Which people in a publishing house do I deal with?
Mainly the commissioning editor
Who owns the copyright on a work?
The author, unless he cedes the copyright.
Why does one need a publisher?
For financing, technical expertise, and marketing… it’s the main function of a publisher to get your book into bookstores and sold, or ask us we will help you where we can.

Basil van Rooyen ©

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