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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XXXV Books Published at the Authors Expense

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XXXV Books Published at the Author's Expense

REPUTABLE publishers often publish, wholly or partly at the author's expense, books which would appear to have a small sale. First-class publishers, however, will not place upon the market any book discreditable to them.

Thousands of books have seen the light of publication, which could not be considered profitable. Let us suppose, for example, that you have made a study of some scientific subject, and desire to place the result of your labors in book form. If the subject is not one which will warrant a sale sufficient to pay the cost of publication and a fair profit to the publisher, any reputable publisher will consider the publication of the book if the author stands between him and loss, the author taking the whole or a part of the risk. When this is done, the publisher becomes the agent of the author and may pay him as much as twenty-five per cent of the retail or list price.

Occasionally an author, who is financially able, prefers to make this arrangement; for, if the book is successful, his remuneration will be larger. But probably ninety-nine per cent of books published are at the expense of the publisher, who assumes all risk.

It is obvious that a publisher is more likely to push the sale of a book, if he is not guaranteed against loss.

Under another chapter heading, I have presented the methods used by disreputable publishers, who almost invariably publish books at their authors' expense.

If a reputable publisher considers the manuscript of value, and yet feels that its publication would be unprofitable to him, he will frankly express himself to the author, and arrangements may be made with him for its publication, the author assuming the whole or a part of the risk. If several publishers refuse to publish a manuscript, except at the author's expense, the writer may be assured that either his manuscript is unworthy of publication, or else that it is upon a subject which will not command a profitable sale.