This guide aims to show you, step-by-step, what will happen after you sign with Barlow Books to publish your book. Publishing is a big job. As you will see below, it includes several rounds of editing, the design of your cover and interior, and meticulous layout and proofreading to create the files that we send to printers. The job doesn’t end there, though. We also handle printing, sales, and distribution. In other words, we will take care of you, from mind to market.
As you read this, consider this key decision: Where do you want your book to be distributed and sold? On online stores like Amazon? Or in physical stores, such as Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Costco and independent bookstores as well as on Amazon and other online stores.
This decision should be driven by your ambitions for your book. It is also a question of risk and reward. If you choose to sell your books in the physical stores, you will be able to sell more books than you could by selling yourself online. But you have to pay for a lot of things — like printing — in advance. This can require a major output of cash upfront, and there’s no guarantee that readers will actually buy your book, no matter how great the cover is. If they don’t, bookstores will return the books to the warehouse, and you have to pay the stores back for the books they bought.
We’ll return to this point later in the guide. If you sign on with Barlow, we will help you assess the risk and the reward, and we’ll work with you to consider what kind of distribution best suits your goals for writing your book.
Let’s start at the beginning.
When you sign with Barlow
We will walk you through the contract, and we both have to sign before we start work together. The contract specifies the responsibilities both of us have in working together. Authors, for example, have to ensure their work is original and is not libelous. Authors also acknowledge that Barlow Books has the exclusive right to publish their book for two years. This includes both printing and sales to Canadian retailers.
Barlow Books Publishing Fee
This fee covers the overall management of the project by publisher Sarah Scott. It also gives you access to key distribution networks in Canada and the U.S., which means your book can potentially be sold in bookstores as well as online stores everywhere. When you pay the Barlow publishing fee, we commit to designing, producing, printing and distributing your book — through whatever channels we choose together. If you need help writing the book, we will provide another writing contract to sign. It will specify the price, when you have to pay, and what assistance you will get in return.
Publishing fee: $5,000.00
Authors come to us at different stages in the writing process. Some come to us at the beginning, with only an idea. These authors need to start with a developmental edit.
We ask these basic questions:
What is your book about? Who is your audience? Why will they want to buy your book — how do you differentiate yourself from others in the field? These are fundamental questions that are critical for the success of this project. It is difficult to generalize about how long this critical phase will take. It could be a few hours, or a few days. You can work with Barlow Publisher Sarah Scott on this, or with a writer.
At this stage, we ask another critical question: What are your goals? The answer to this question will guide many of the decisions ahead. Why are you writing your book? Do you have a story or an idea that you want people to know? Is it part of a mission to build your personal and professional brand? Do you think you can make money on a book like this?
Developmental edit: Fee by the project
How big is your audience?
If you know you want to sell your book in stores like Indigo, this is a good time to consult our marketing expert. She will help you to answer some key questions: Who is the target audience for your book? How big a market is that? What are they likely to pay, given the comparable books in your genre? Where are they likely to buy your book — in bookstores, at Costco, on Amazon, or in private sales homes; as an ebook or a print book? The answers to these questions will inform every decision ahead, from the way you write the book, to the cover design, to the way we market your book. It will inform the decisions you’ll have to make on how much you want to spend on production and printing. The Barlow Books publishing fee covers this consultation.
What will it cost?
Will I earn money from this book? We cannot predict whether readers will like your book and buy it in large numbers. The success of your book depends on too many things — the quality of your writing and thinking, your timing, your title and cover, how hard you work on your PR, and plain old luck. We will help you assess your risk/potential reward based on the data we have. We have access to proprietary sales numbers from BookNet, which will tell you how books like yours did in the market. Once we have your manuscript in hand, we can also give you a rough idea of what you’d have to do to break even. Understand that if the manuscript expands, or if you change your mind on any detail of the printing, the break-even number will change. The Barlow Books publishing fee covers this consultation.
Now we get down to business. You have thought through your idea. You know who your target market is. You know how you want to reach your target readers. You have a rough idea of what it takes to break even. It’s time to write. Do you want to write your book yourself, or do you prefer to work with a professional writer? Our writers are all seasoned pros who have worked in senior positions in traditional book publishing. They can do the heavy lifting for you. They will help you clarify and articulate your ideas, and structure them into chapters that tell a compelling story or make a persuasive argument. If you do not want to write, the writer will interview you and write the book based on your own words and thoughts. If you are a writer at heart, the writer will work with you on perfecting your manuscript.
Writing: Fee by the project
Rewrite: The Substantive Edit
You have a first draft, but the writing is far from over. Writing, it is said, is the art of writing and rewriting, and for your second draft you’ll need an editor skilled at what we call the ‘substantive edit’. The editor focuses on the big picture. She studies the logic and structure of the manuscript, the sequence of chapters. Is it written effectively for the target audience? Does it make sense? Where are the gaps? Among other things, the editor revises and/or cuts, identifies inconsistencies in logic, fixes weak connections and transitions, highlights statements that should be fixed for accuracy, and spots potential legal trouble spots.
Editing: Fee by the project
Note: The substantive editor gives you direction but does not do the rewriting for you. You may want to go back to your writer to work on the editor’s suggestions.
Do you need research? If so, we assign a sharp journalist to gather the information you need to give your book substance and depth.
If you are ‘talking’ your book (being interviewed by the writer, who will turn your thoughts into a manuscript), you’ll need transcripts. A transcript is the written text of your recorded interviews, transcribed into a Word document. A transcript ensures your words — and your rhythms — make it onto the page.
Authors are responsible for the accuracy of the manuscript. We can help you by supplying an experienced fact-checker to verify your facts. To prevent plagiarism, which inflicts heavy damage to an author’s reputation, we put your manuscript through a sophisticated screen to detect inadvertent plagiarism and review the results with you. The cost of the plagiarism screen depends on the length of the manuscript.
Designing a Cover
To create a cover, you need to decide on your title and your subtitle. This is a critical decision, and you’ll get input from everyone on our team — writers, editors, marketing and the publisher.
Then cover design can begin. We start with a creative brief based on your goals and your market. The key question: What’s the best way to sell your book to your target market? With the creative brief in hand, our book designer will provide up to six front and back cover concepts. We work with you to choose final concept. Once we have a final concept, there can be up to three rounds of revisions of the front and back cover concept.
Producing the Book
This is the process that turns a manuscript into a book — or more specifically, electronic files that are ready for the printer.
Turning a manuscript into a book involves several interconnected tasks. Here are the main jobs:
This is a stylistic edit. The editor eliminates unnecessary jargon, rectifies obscure phrasing, fine-tunes the language, adjusts the reading level for the intended audience and makes tables and figures clear. Among other things, the line editor establishes a consistent style and enhances stylistic and dramatic devices.
The copy editor polishes. She edits for grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling and other mechanics of style. She ensures that heads, lists, tables, figureheads, labels and citations are consistent. She makes sure the numbering and references are accurate. She makes sure there is a consistent style in heading and captions, and she ensures that sources are acknowledged in an appropriate manner.
The proofreader corrects any lingering errors and inconsistencies in the manuscript. This includes checking/correcting page references and cross references, and numerous other details.
For the interior design, the book designer provides two layout concepts that include the preliminary and end matter, table of contents, chapter openers, and sample spreads. We work with you to choose one concept. Then the designer can do up to three rounds of revisions to the chosen concept. Cost depends on the complexity of the project. Additional revisions will be billed extra.
This is also known as ‘page layout.’ The formatter uses the design template to lay out the pages of your book.
Cost of production/interior design: You will be given an estimate to approve at the beginning of production. You will be charged half of the estimated fee at the start of production and the remaining half, plus any extra or unanticipated charges incurred during the production phase, at the end.
The cost of production depends mainly on the length of the manuscript and the complexity of the design. If your manuscript grows during the production phase, if you ask for extras along the way like a fact check or photo research, or if you add substantial chunks of copy at the end of the production process, the price will go up.
Photo Research and Permissions
If you want to use photos, the challenge is not only to find photos but also to obtain permission to use them. You may have to pay the artist, institution or person who holds the rights to the photo. Captions that accompany photos have to be written and edited. What’s more, the rights you buy are complicated. They usually come with many strings attached. The researcher will review the rights with you.
Authors cannot libel anyone. If they do, they run the risk of incurring expensive legal fees for themselves and for Barlow Book Publishing. To prevent this, we refer authors to one of the finest libel lawyers in the country. This review occurs while the book is being proofread.
Before your book is shipped to the printer, you have to make some important decisions about how you want to market your book.
Say you want your book to be sold or given to a limited audience of a few hundred clients, colleagues and friends. The book might do a lot for your business brand, but it’s not the kind of book that attracts a wide audience. In this case, we print a limited number of books, either paperback or hardcover, and we set the book up on Amazon.ca. We’ll also set up your book on IngramSparks so that stores and libraries can order your book. As part of this job, we will create the metadata, the essential information the book business needs to enable your book to be discovered by potential readers.
We can also create an ebook for you to sell on online stores. Price depends on the book.
What if you want your book to be sold in stores, possibly across Canada and in the U.S.? As a hybrid publisher, we have the sales and distribution deals in both Canada and the U.S. to help you achieve this goal. Our sales representatives in both countries can sell your book to store buyers. They do the crucial job of getting your book onto shelves in stores where your potential readers can see them and buy them. In Canada, our sales and distribution company, Georgetown Publications, handles storage, deliveries, returns and invoicing. We offer the same sales and distribution services through Midpoint Trade Books in the U.S.
If you choose Barlow Books as your publisher, you can only sell books to retailers through our sales team. You may not sell direct to a Canadian or American retailer. You can, however, sell direct to a non-retailer, such as a financial company, or to individuals at your speeches.
For books sold through on-the-ground bookstores, you will pay a flat fee for all the work Barlow does to get your book onto shelves of retail stores. This includes:
- A well-designed four-page sell sheet will be needed to market your book to bookstores. The sell sheet includes an excerpt from the book, the table of contents, and marketing messages for our representatives to use when approaching bookstores.
- Positioning of your book in the market.
- All the metadata required to list your book, such as BISAC codes, keywords, the book description and the ISBN.
- Barlow’s work with the distributor to sell your book to stores.
- Coordination of PR efforts with sales and distribution throughout the sale.
- Tracking sales numbers and handling revenues from the distributor.
Advance Reader Copies are printed books for the media and influential people. The price depends on the number printed.
If your book will be sold in physical stores, you must pay for printing in advance. When you sign with Barlow Books, you agree to let us organize the printing for you during the life of the contract. You cannot organize your own printing during this time.
When we start to think about printing, you’ll have the following decisions to make: Do you want hardcover or paperback? A color interior, or black and white? High quality paper suitable for photos, or plain white paper stock?
These decisions are influenced by what you are trying to achieve. If you want a cookbook with pictures illustrating every recipe, you’ll need paper that can make the photos look great. If it’s a business book and you want to keep the price reasonable, you’d better stick with decent white paper stock. We will help you to make these decisions and discuss the financial implications. Once you’ve made up your mind, you’ll also get a “dummy” — a book that will be physically just like yours (but with no text or pictures).
Printing costs depend on multiple factors, including the number of pages, the number of books printed at one time, whether the book has a black and white or a color interior, and whether it is hardcover or paperback.
We will give you competitive quotes depending on the specific characteristics of your book. You will approve that quote before we put in the print order.
How many books should you print? This is a big decision. If you print too few, you may miss potential sales. If you print too many, you will have paid to print and store books that sit unsold in the warehouse. (As you will see below, it costs money to store your books.) We work with our sales team at Manda to give you the best possible advice, based on the sales they have made thus far to stores, and the sales that books similar to yours have made. We will help you assess this by sharing proprietary information from Booknet, which tracks sales in Canadian stores. Please understand that no one knows for sure whether a book will be a hit. That depends, in part, on how proactive you are about getting the word out about your book.
If you want your book to sell, people have to hear about it. The objective of PR is to get you media exposure on TV, radio, and in print. We work with experts who will seek to get publicity in these media channels.
A key way to reach your audience and keep the conversation going is social media. It’s especially important for reaching niche audiences. You can invest in a social media strategy and then do the work yourself, or let our social media expert do the outreach for you.
Our Canadian sales reps at Georgetown Publications pitch your book to stores all across Canada. As we have seen, Georgetown is a crucial partner: Georgetown’s reps get your books on the shelves where people can see them. This allows you to potentially sell thousands of books, instead of selling a few dozen yourself. Georgetown also warehouses books, ships them to bookstores, collects returns, and collects invoices. In the U.S. Midpoint Trade Books performs the same services for books going into U.S. retail stores.
You get paid 100% of profits from the sale of books to readers
Bookstores pay for the books and send the money to our distributors. The distributors send the revenues to us and we send 100 percent of the profits to you.
The following illustrates how we calculate profits.
If a book has a cover price of $20.00
Retailer takes $10.00
Distributor takes 42% of net sales, or $4.20
Author gets $5.80
In the book business, when a retailer buys a book from the distributor, the book is not considered sold until a customer buys it. If a book does not sell in a year, the bookstore can return it to the distributor and ask for its money back. You as the author take the entire risk of returns. This means you will not get paid for unsold books that are returned.
This figure does not include your printing cost or the cost of developing the book. You will have to sell a lot of books to recoup the money spent on printing and all the costs of creating the book and begin to turn a profit.
If it sounds complicated, it is, but we will guide you every step of the way as your partner in
the business of publishing your book.
For more information, or to discuss further, please e-mail or call Sarah Scott at 416-968-2264