Why does one need a publisher?

For financing, technical expertise, marketing and distribution reach

Should I self publish my book?

Only if you are sure you can fulfill all the roles of a publisher without sacrificing quality. Or if you can’t find a publisher interested in publishing your book

Should I publish a print book or an ebook?

Very often the answer is to publish both – but it does depend on the production specifications of your book and the market you are trying to reach

Can I publish the ebook with one publisher and the print book with another publisher?

It depends on the terms of your contract, but not usually

Should I publish an ebook instead of a print book?

Only if the market you are targeting wants an ebook and not a print book

How do I know which is the right publisher to approach?

Find out whether they are active in the market your book is aimed at – look at their website and their other published titles in bookshops to find this information

Can I do my own publishing using DTP?

No, DTP is a way of designing and typesetting, not a way of publishing

What is the best way to approach a publisher?

Use a written proposal submitted by email (check the publisher’s website for guidelines on submissions)

Do I need an agent?

Only if you want to get published in the UK and US.

Does a book need to be registered somewhere?

No. All you need is an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which your publisher will get from the State Library

Can you use the same ISBN for the print book and the ebook?

No, each format needs its own ISBN

Does copyright protect ideas?

Does copyright protect ideas?

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

How long will it take from the time I deliver my manuscript to publication?

Nine months, on average

How many copies does the average general book in South Africa sell?


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 – send an email with all the necessary information.

Should I share my ideas with a publisher - won't he steal it?

He won t steal it 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?

10 - 12% of net receipts (the amount the publisher sells to the bookseller for, i.e. retail price less VAT less discount), but it varies depending on publisher, type of book, and the leverage you have.

Are ebook and print book royalties the same?

No, in many cases the ebook royalty is higher than the print book royalty to compensate for the absence of printing costs

How often are royalties paid?

Once or twice a year, in arrears for sales of the previous period.

What is a trade book?

A general book selling into the consumer market

What other types of books are there?

Publishers define books by the main markets that they sell in – trade (children & adult), religious, schools/educational, tertiary education/academic, TVET college, scholarly, professional – not all publishers publish for all markets

What is an imprint?

It is a trade name or brand or logo, like Penguin or Juta

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 substantial portion of another work

Where can I get information about publishers?

On the PASA website

Where does one get ISBN numbers?

The State Library

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

Basil van Rooyen & Louise Grantham ©

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