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Old 08-04-2007, 16:32   #1
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writing a cruising book

I had dinner with Alan Phillips the author of a new book "Around the world cruising guide. sailing crew wanted for cruising lifestyle

It is a great book and I highly recommend it.

I asked Alan what "he" makes out of selling his books.
I was shocked.
He submitied his draft to one of Americas largest publishers. They were very impressed with his "highly appoinated" version of cruising around the world and immediately submitted it for approval through their system. After six months he received approval from all departments and the company wanted to proceed with world wide distribution.

Now this book sells for $100.00 they offered him a royalty of $3.00 a book. $1.50 a book if it was distributed to countries outside of the USA. and and if he died (he is 58) NO royalies would be passed on to his next of kin.
He has devastated. and I don't blame him. This is a book which is aimed at serious sailers and would never reach million dollar sales. Even Jimmy Cornall sales have been well well under the 400,000 mark.

So he found a local publisher and he now makes a much better return, though nothing startling, but at least more than $3.00 a book.

Have a look at his web site sailing crew wanted for cruising lifestyle he has sailed for 25 years, all over the world, gives wonderfull "no bullshit" information and tells it how it is.
His stories get even better after a couple of rums, I can assure you.
My partner Christine didn't like the bit where he says most wifes can't handle more than 2 years at sea, and you have to trade them in and get a new one every couple of years.
She's out to prove him wrong.
I keep you posted

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Old 08-04-2007, 18:41   #2
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I don't know a lot of rich writers, and I know atleast a dozen or so. Even guys that write software books, if they took the amount of hours they spent writing it, would have made more if they just worked a regular software job for those same hours.

In software, you write books because you like writing. The money aspect is far more related to people seeking you out, and the doors your books open up to future employment chances.

Even Linn & Larry Pardey probably make more money in the jobs they get because they're so notorious, more so than the actual book sales themselves. A writer friend of mine told me to think about any books that I write as resumes, since that's all their good for, from a the point of view of the writer's check book.

It doesn't really bother me that much. Honestly, a lot of cruisers are somehow expecting to snap photos of tropical paradises and have other people back home buy them so they can keep fishing and sipping on cocktails in some picture-esque anchorage.

I don't think anyone is entitled to make a cent more than their wares are worth on the free market.

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Old 08-04-2007, 19:17   #3
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There is such a thing as easy money out there, I can't say where, I have no proof, but I'm convinced of it. What i'm also convinced of is that writing is not one of them.

Like has been mentioned before, if you write books, it's 99 times out of 100, because you like the subject or a story and want other people to know it as well.

I've always wanted to write a book, I've never written anything publisher worthy, or even share among friends worthy, but it's a goal some day. I know I won't make much, if any money from it, but there are other, even better reasons to do it than that. Heck if I know what they are, but I wouldn't want to do it if they weren't there.
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Old 08-04-2007, 21:18   #4
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i have some very limited experience in this area from knowing a few "successful" book authors and having unsuccessfully gone through the proposal process myself (nothing to do with sailing or cruising):

from the publisher's standpoint, it is only about sales. let's face it, cruisers are a very limited market, so a book about cruising is a) only going to be picked up by one of the smaller publishers who specialize in books about yachting and cruising and b) not pay off big for the author. there are always exceptions, but they are very rare.

further, publishers are very reluctant to do a book if anything resembling the idea has been done before (exceptions again: e.g., there's an endless appetite for celebrity tell-alls and diet books). most cruising books are going to read like a travelogue, which is probably THE most common type of idea that lands on a publisher's desk. They run screaming from travelogues based on the idea that few readers are interested in reading about someone else's vacation. even if your book is different, you have to sell the IDEA of it first, and you're going to have a hard time making it sound different. The publisher is going to take one look at the proposal and assume it will be just another boring travelogue on the water.

Again, there are exceptions. If you're a big name that changes everything. I have a friend who is a well-known journalist who had never written a book before, but his name and the organization he works for greased the wheels for a project that - while ultimately a fine idea - probably would not have seen the light of day otherwise.

As one poster points out, even well-known authors don't make much in this niche market, and people in the publishing market know that.
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Old 09-04-2007, 07:17   #5
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so true, so true
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:51   #6
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When I talked to authors at the boat shows, it was pretty clear that most authors don't make much money promoting their books at the boat shows either. They get such a small "take" from the book when they sell a copy at a show that they usually don't even cover their expenses. When they have to pay for airline tickets, rental cars, hotels, and meals - they can't sell enough books at the shows to make a profit.

Writing books to make money is very tough for the unknown author. That doesn't mean a person shouldn't write books. Just don't count on making a living doing it.

Even if you are skilled in graphic design and can layout a great book that is crammed full out outstanding content, and you go the self-publishing route, you will still find that making money is an uphill batttle. It costs tons of money and takes thousands of hours to promote books that may only have a niche market.

That's one reason why the internet is such a great medium. Although you don't make any money publishing your stuff on the internet, at least it doesn't cost you that much except your time.

A forum like this one is actually a giant continuously updated book on cruising that accomodates all points of view. Furthermore, it allows people to publish pictures to illustrate what they have to say. Putting the same pictures in print would be prohibitively expensive. And this "cruising book" forum goes around the world. It's a pretty good deal for everyone involved. Nobody's getting rich, but a lot of good things are happening.
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Old 09-04-2007, 10:05   #7
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Originally Posted by rebel heart
Even Linn & Larry Pardey probably make more money in the jobs they get because they're so notorious, more so than the actual book sales themselves.
If you follow the Pardey's closely, Larry makes his money building or modifying boats and deliveries. Lin makes her money on deliveries, but she also signs up as cook on fishing boats... I love their books and DVD's and own all of them, but I guess I didn't make them rich either!

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Old 09-04-2007, 10:53   #8
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An excellent summary, maxingout . . .

. . . of both the writing/paper-publishing business, and the writing/electronic-publishing phenomenon. The arrival of the internet has created a true paradigm shift - a term often overused and/or used incorrectly.

Well done!


"Your vision becomes clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens."
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