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Question
Respected Nori J. Muster,

I am Dr. Abidi from Karachi, Pakistan.  Although, by profession I am a medicine doctor but writing has always been my passion. I have been writing stories and articles since my childhood but was only able to put it in front of the world in March, 1999 when I got the honour to become the author and web designer of the largest personal website (http://www. abidis.org) made by any Pakistani ever and finally I've had the chance of presenting my articles, stories and novels in front of thousands of visitors and readers from all around the world. By the response I got from Pakistanis as well as from Non-Pakistanis, I was further encouraged to write more. This motive finally resulted in the creation of my latest English e-novel “HIJAAB WAALI” (The veiled girl) in the year 2002.

I never expected that that this e-book which only exists “online” will get such a remarkable response and encouragement not only from the people of Indian and Pakistani community but from almost all the communities regardless of their ethnic or religious reservations. Thousands of readers have read it through my website and this number is only increasing.
Now, the real reason of contacting you for your expert advice is that unfortunately, due to my limited financial resources or lack of proper communication with the publishers, I've been unable to publish my book in print “paper back” form. A BIG number of my readers email me daily and ask if they can buy my novel in paper book form from anywhere and it only makes me more desperate about getting it published as soon as possible. From the great response I've got from my readers, I have complete faith that if God is willing, my book, if published, has much greater chances of getting a “big hit” world wide, specially among the youth. Last week, some publishers from Indonesia contacted me and asked that they want to publish my novel in Indonesian language but the royalty they are offering is very less. They say they will only give me 100 US$ as advance and 6% royalty of the retail price on each book sold.  As this is my first experience, I want to ask few things from you.

The questions I want to ask from you are:

1-   Do you know any contacts of publishers which might be interested in publishing & distributing my novel?
2-   I want to know more about the royalty issues, i.e. what is the average royalty (%age) an author gets on his in-demand fiction novel of about 260 pages.
3-   What should be my present strategy which could help me to publish my novels as early as possible?
4-   Do you think it's reasonable for me to get only 100 US$ as advance payment from those Indonesian publishers and then 6% royalty on each book sold?
5-   What about piracy & copy right issues?

I know my questions are lengthy and detailed but so are the queries in my mind.

I hope with your advice, I would be able to know more about the matters to publish my book.

Thank you

Respect and regards

Dr. Ikram Abidi

Visit us at:
http://www.abidis.org


Answer
Dear Dr. Ikram Abidi,
Thank you for your letter and for sharing your web site with me. I appreciate your writings, even though many of the concepts about women are foreign to me. I am a progressive American woman raised in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s. While I certainly don't support promiscuity as it is portrayed in contemporary Western media, I do believe in equal opportunity for women.  There are a lot of things that I could say here, but the main thing is that I appreciate the value of cultural exchange. I believe that our cultures (East, West, and Middle Eastern) can live in harmony now and always, as long as we listen to each other and accept each other's differences. I was among the millions of people who protested against the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. I have a web "blog" that goes into more detail:
http://surrealist.org/norimuster/bushcrisis.html
Overall, let me say that it is an honor to meet you and I hope you will consider me a friend.
But all that is beside the point.
Now to your questions. Congratulations on your novels. There are two basic choices about how to publish your work. First, there is self-publishing. There are a number of online publishers who will set your book up for an initial fee, then print your book "on demand" when someone orders a copy. This is possible because modern printing presses can print one copy, or as many copies as you need, in an economical way. So, you set your book up with one of these companies, then people can log on and buy it. The company then ships them a copy. Two that I know of are:
http://xlibris.com and http://www.iuniverse.com
These companies usually keep a small percentage of each book sold and give the rest to the author. The author can also buy books at a discounted rate.
The other option is to look for a "real" publisher, that is a publisher who will print the book, promote it, and pay the author through an "advance" and later, "royalties."
It is much more difficult to find a publisher like this, since there's a lot of competition. However, your books sound good and might have a good chance of getting published. If you want to pursue this route, check my page for writers and read the article, "How to Find a Publisher."
http://steamboats.com/writing.html
The usual system is to pay the author 5-15% of the cover price. So, if your book is $20, you could expect to make about $1 per book. It seems impossible that it could be so low, but that's the publishing business. An average book that is successful will sell 1,000 to 5,000 copies, so the average income from  a book would be about $1,000 to $5,000 dollars. Usually a publisher will offer that up front as an advance when you turn in the completed manuscript. If the book sells more than expected, it may go into a second printing. In that case, you would collect royalties at the same rate.
The Indonesian publisher has offered a $100 advance, but if the book earns more, you will receive the rest as royalties.
Regarding your rights to the book. That will depend on your contract. If you find a publisher, have an attorney go over the contract. Never sign a book contract without an attorney. Make sure that you are only giving away the rights for this one book and that the rights revert to you if the book goes out of print. Watch out for clauses that would allow the publisher to change your story. Watch out for clauses that would give the publisher the copyrights to your characters. That is, sometimes they want the right to your characters or similar characters as they may appear in a future book.
Also, in the case of the Indonesian publisher, make sure they don't try to claim the rights to your book in all languages, but only the edition they plan to print.
If there is anything I've left out, or if you want to discuss something after reading the materials at my web page, please feel free to write back again.
Sincerely,
Nori

Writing Books

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Nori J. Muster

Expertise

Writing and publishing books, including e-books.

Experience

I have been writing for publication since 1981, including years as a staff writer, associate editor, editorial writer, and freelance reporter. At this time, I have eight Kindle books for sale at Amazon.com.

Organizations
Lakes of Tempe Authors, Tempe, Arizona

Publications
Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement
Dreaming Peace: Your Thoughts Can Change the World
Cult Recovery Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life
Child of the Cult
Learning to Flow with the Tao: The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching
Positive Quotations: Wisdom from the Master Mind
Collected Writings: Five Books by Nori Muster
Noriland Art Gallery: Secrets from the Vault
Spiritual Summer and Other Short Stories


Education/Credentials
UCLA Extension Writer's Program, 1988 - 1994
Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Oregon University, 1991

Awards and Honors
Interviews:
USA Today, Los Angeles Times, BBC World Services Focus on Faith, BBC Sunday Programme, Salon.com, Glamour Magazine, Portland Mercury News, W-Five TV (Toronto), Publisher's Weekly, Boston Phoenix, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC TV News - 20/20, ABC radio, Associated Press, The Age (Melbourne), Rediff.com, The New York Times, Religious News Service, Dallas Morning News, Columbia Journalism School, Whole Life Times (Los Angeles), Toronto Sun, the John Dayle Show (KFYI AM, Phoenix), the Eliot Stein Show (syndicated radio and Internet broadcast), Discovery with Josh Wagner (KKUP, 91.5 FM, Santa Clara, California), KOGO (News Radio 600, San Diego), Jupiter’s Girl syndicated radio show, Lakes Log.

Book Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly, Feminist Bookstore News, Yoga Journal, New York Post, Choice Magazine, Boston Herald, Nexus (Colorado), Gentle Strength Times, Coastlines (UCSB alumni), Theology Digest, Nova Religio, Rapport, India West, Rediff.com, Amazon.com.

Book Signings:
Prescott College reunion; Gentle Strength Co-op, Tempe; Different Drummer Bookshop, Laguna Beach; L.A. Times Toastmasters; Biltmore Plaza Border's Books, Phoenix; Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Los Angeles; Health & Life Enrichment Expo, Pasadena; Sacramento Reads book festival, and others.

Publishers:
ISKCON World Review, Van Dhal Publications, Gentle Strength Times, Arizona Woman, Lakes Log, ICSA Today, Cultic Studies Review, University of Illinois Press, Kindle, steamboats.com, surrealist.org, Apple Books, and others.

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