The Daily Journal, Monday, July 8

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* If you’re a short story writer
* Topic: Thinking About Intellectual Property (IP)
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Quote of the Day

“I enjoy self-publishing and sending publishers rejection letters. They’re like, ‘Who is this guy?’ And I’m like, ‘the end of your industry.'” Ryan Lilly

If you’re a short story writer, I just received this from AuthorsPublish:

Announcing the release of our latest book: 182 Short Fiction Publishers.

The book guides you through the publishing process – and details dozens of publishers seeking short stories in a wide variety of genres.

Get Your Free Copy of the Book at (You’ll have to give them your email address.)

Topic: Thinking About Intellectual Property (IP)

Did you know once a traditional publisher accepts a manuscript and pays the author an advance, they might choose to not even publish the book?

Or they might put it on their calendar, publish it in a year or so, watch sales spike and then dwindle, and remainder the book. At which point they shrug and move on to the next author.

It doesn’t matter to them. They don’t really care either way about any of that.

I mean sure, lightning might strike for them too if they publish the book. It might become a million-seller. It might even last for a year or more.

If it does, they’ll make around 85% of the profit from the book. But if it doesn’t (yawn, stretch) they won’t care. They’ve already made millions on the deal.

Why? Because they own the IP. They bought all rights for the life of the copyright. In the US, that’s the author’s life plus 70 years.

And the moment they added that one piece of IP (formerly YOUR IP) to the assets column on their spreadsheet, the value of their company increased by millions of dollars.

Yes, millions.

Of course, in exchange for the IP (again, all rights for the life of the author plus 70 years), the publisher paid the author an advance against royalties.

Maybe they paid $5,000. Maybe $15,000. Maybe even $100,000 though I doubt it. Many writers will sign a contract for much less.

Take a moment and ask yourself, what’s your going rate? Let’s say for one novel. Or even for a series.

Awhile back I posted that if lightning struck, I would sell all rights for the life of my copyright for a one-time payment. But I have a personal caveat: That payment would have to be in the mid-six figures. (That would literally be a life-changing amount for me.)

When I wrote that, several friends and acquaintances expressed concern. Really? I would really sell all rights?

Yes, I would, for that amount of money.

But let me tell you, every single day authorial platitudes regarding artistic ideals and “selling out” suddenly vanish when they collide with even a four- or five-figure paycheck.

Not mine. And I’m not talking from an ivory tower here. I’m talking from down in the trenches with a mud-streaked face, and I’m talking realistically.

I would gladly accept a check in the mid-six figures in exhange for all rights to one of my novels or maybe even to a series. (The contract would no-doubt contain a no-compete clause anyway, meaning I couldn’t do anything with the remaining novels in the series.)

But is my work that good?

Not necessarily, but neither does it matter. At all.

All that matters is whether the publisher (or its editorial board) sees value in the story. If they do, they’ll pay, and they’ll pay what you ask. If they don’t, they won’t. (But most writers don’t even know they can ask and aren’t prepared to walk away if the publisher says No.)

Here’s a news flash for you: Publishers don’t base the value of a manuscript on the number of books that might sell. That’s only one tiny, unimportant slice of the equation.

They figure the value of your IP on possibilities. Beyond the obvious print, ebook and audio rights most writers consider, there are many, many others. To name only a few, there are

* translation rights
* film rights
* online gaming rights
* merchandising rights (action figures, t-shirts, toys, images, etc.)
* slot machines
* pinball machines
* and hundreds or even thousands of other licensable rights that most writers never consider

THAT’s the value of the IP of your one short story or novel or series. Millions of potential dollars.

See, to the publisher, the IP isn’t a collection of fifty or eighty or a hundred thousand words in a particular order. It isn’t (at all) about how many copies of a book they might sell.

To the publisher, the IP is Story and the world of the story and the possibility of all the rights they might sell.

The same rights You, the author, could sell if you knew what possibilities exist and how to go about realizing them.

You all know how important writing is to me. Not what I write, but that I write.

But this IP thing, this is big. This is important. Knowledge is the one thing you can attain that can never be taken from you.

Being a successful writer in today’s world requires gaining knowledge on two fronts—writing and business—and there are no shortcuts, though you can shorten the learning curve on both by knowing where to look.

To learn to write well (beyond words and typing) you have to read and study the masters, and you have to practice. It isn’t easy, but it’s a ton of fun.

To learn the business side, you have to read, study, and make decisions. And the biggest thing to learn about the business of writing is the value of your IP and the possibilities that exist.

I’m a solid stage-three writer.

I can say that because I know (and employ) all of the basics and I know (and employ) most of the advanced writing techniques. I also know the “secret” to learning more advanced techniques (hint—it’s all about controlling the reader’s mind).

But I know squat about the business side. It goes far, far beyond advances and royalties.

I’ll continue to learn and write and apply more advanced writing techniques, but now I’m going to carve out some time for learning business. Frankly, I’d be stupid not to.

The value of my IP and the possibilities for licensing that IP is first on my list. That’s why I leapt at the chance to take DWS’s licensing learn-along and his year-long licensing transition.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to urge you to jump in while you still can. You either will or you won’t. Completely up to you, and it makes no difference to my own bottom line.

The investment of money to take DWS’s courses was not small (for me) but the decision to do so was easy, and that investment will pay dividends for years to come.

But only if I also invest the time to learn.

The investment of time will necessarily cut into my writing time, so I’ve made another decision: From now on, my weekends and my Thursdays will be dedicated to learning licensing and IP evaluation (and of course, more advanced writing techniques).

The learning will never end, but once I’ve gotten over the hump of the initial IP stuff, I’ll start to work-in some marketing, etc. on those days too. Probably including writing more short stories and sending those off (first) to traditional publishers. (But I’ll sign even those contracts only if they make sense and aren’t rights grabs.)

That’s the plan for the foreseeable future. And because it’s almost impossible for me not to do so, I’ll share some of what I learn. But it will be only a tiny percentage.

I’m so excited about this new world that I can’t even begin to describe it. I hope you are too. Again, it’s all about real possibilities, and those, my friends, are endless.

Weird morning. I rolled out at 2:30, got to the Hovel a little before 3, and almost got settled in before a horrible screeching started outside.

I grabbed my flashlight and went out. At this point, I’d had only a couple of sips of coffee. I hadn’t lit my first cigar.

The screeching was coming from the travel trailer we use as an extra bedroom when family or guests are visiting.

Inside, I found it was coming from the refrigerator, which my son had turned off before he left.

Only he hadn’t. The switch was turned to Off, but the compressor (as far as I could tell) was screaming for some reason.

After several minutes of trying to get the thing to shut off, I finally went outside and unplugged it. Sometime later today, I’ll see whether I can figure out the problem.

Then I came back to the Hovel and wrote the stuff above (except this Diary section). By then it was almost 5 and I headed up to the house to let the babies out.

When I finally got settled again in the Hovel, I opened what I’ve written on Marco’s Way and read it from the beginning to get back into the story. And frankly, it bored me. So I’ll set it aside for awhile, if not forever.

Hey, you take the bad with the good, and it’s all practice. No story is all that important, and there’s no moss growing on me. (grin) If a story isn’t working, I drop it and move on.

So for me, today will be a combination of screwing off (grin), taking care of a few things around the house and the Hovel, getting some labs for an upcoming doctor appointment, and maybe doing some more learning.

I’ll get back to writing fiction again when it’s time.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Writers Hate to Write” at

See “First Page Critique: A Goan Holiday” at

See “Fine Tuning the Manuscript with SmartEdit” at Disclaimer: I would never use this and I do not personally recommend it. That being said, we’re all at different levels and every writer is different. I list this here just in case you personally might find it useful.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1680 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1680

Writing of ()

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 3173
Total fiction words for the year………… 354511
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8450
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 192650
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 547161

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Monday, July 8”

  1. Harvey, thank you so much for the clear explanation of how advances and royalties actually work. As a newer writer, I’m glad to know this sooner rather than later.

    • The advance is actually an advance payment against royalties. Once you “earn out” your advance, your royalties begin, usually paid quarterly. Most books never earn out their advances. And as you can probably tell from my comments in the Journal, writers are much better off indie publishing in today’s world.

Comments are closed.