Relative nitwittery


My BIL, I'll call him N, has offered to 'publish' my book free of charge and pay me some contributor's copies...promising to do local marketing too. Now, see this, he's not read anything and only knows bare descriptions of my wips. Now, I've discussed this with Ann Crispin and we agree this isn't cred, but my question is this. IF I had something that fit his requirements (basically around 120 pages), would it hurt me to let him publish it. Would a future agent ask me why I would do something like that?

N is a relatively smart person, but apparently doesn't know anything about manuscript prep...for example, he says that's 120 pages single spaced, 'which is closer to what the book will actually look like' to quote him.

He wants to start is micro-press with a work from me and one from him.

I probably won't be able to accommodate him, because everything I have is over 120 pages...even single spaced...I'm talking real cutting here.

Should I throw something to him? Recommend he read something current from me? (last thing was at least six years ago) Or beg off?

It's not going to kill you but why would you do this?

The first question I always ask on any deal offered is "what's in it for me".
This isn't cause I'm selfish (well, I am selfish but that's not the reason I ask).

I ask cause there MUST be give and take or it's a favor, and favors have a way of being one sided on things like this, and you end up resentful.

The other thing I ALWAYS ask on deals is "what's in it for the other guy".
If I can't see how he's going to make money, or build a business or do something reasonably productive, I don't participate cause why would I consign intellectual property to the shredder aka throwing away money.

I'm all in favor of start up businesses, and I'm all in favor of micro presses, and I love and respect the people with entrepreneurial spirit. That doesn't mean I think they walk on water and can do no wrong. No no. You have a small start up press and I want to know you know a thing or two about what you're doing. I pay very close attention to what they say, what questions they ask, and how they propse to learn what they don't know. Absent that, go learn on someone else's intellectual property.

To answer your actual question: no, this won't come back to haunt you most likely but you want to make sure you have a written contract with this guy. A REAL one. If you need draft language, I'll give the name of someone who can help you.


Kit Whitfield said...

At the risk of second-guessing N, it sounds as if he wants to publish his own book but needs other books to make it more like he's founding a small company than like he's self-publishing. That's not a good environment for your work, because it's only there for make-weight.

I wouldn't recommend this. You don't say whether either you or he have attempted to find agents and/or publishers, but giving your work to someone who hasn't read it isn't treating the work right. You've put a lot of time and effort into your book, and you want it to be produced by somebody who cares about it.

Certainly don't cut it down. Cut it if it's too long to read well, but not to fit a bill. That suggests make-weight again.

If N seriously wants to start a micro-press, he's going to have to rearrange his priorities, pick works he actually likes and print them in a way that suits the content rather than a fixed page extent. Otherwise it'll be a bad micro-press, and won't legitimise either your work or his own. He won't benefit long-term.

If you give him a work you care about, you'll be putting your baby in careless hands; if you give him a work you don't care about, it'll make his micro-press look bad. Really, if you have a work you think is good enough to see print, why not hold out for something better? And if he wants to found a micro-press, shouldn't he do it properly?

Personally, I'd thank him very much but tell him that your works are holding out for Publisher Charming and want to stay pure until that special day. It probably wouldn't do you any harm if you didn't claim it as a publishing credit, but N should probably re-think his business plan, for his own sake as well as yours - and till that day, I'd steer clear.

Anonymous said...

Of course publishing is for free, he doesn't need to add that. The thing is. If N doesn't know manuscript format, how do you know he knows how to format, print or sell it?

Don't do it unless you know he has the skills to help your manuscript.

You're not required to toss him a bone, no matter how friendly you are with each other.