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Rampant Author FAQ

Here are some common questions by first-time Rampant authors:

How much can I expect to earn in royalties?

Unless you create a smash bestseller like Charles Frazier's "Cold Mountain", don't plan to putting your kids through College on your royalties.  Back in the 1990's Oracle books made millions, but that was back when Oracle and the web was brand-new.  In technical books, the market is flooded with hundreds of titles competing in small niche markets.  Rampant pays one-third more in royalties than most large technical publishers, but it's still a crowded market, with many vendors chasing  a shrinking buyer market.  Here is how a publishing dollar is broken-down:

A "niche" technical book in 2006 sells only a few copies a week, while super-hot technologies may sell ten times that volume. A technical book is considered a bestseller if it sells more than 5,000 copies and most technical books with many competitors only sell a few thousand copies.  Tim O'Reilly studies the technical book market extensively and publishes findings on new trends in book sales.

Ultimately, the sales of your book are highly dependent of your self-promotion.  Some author hire public relations people to market their books, others arrange TV interviews and book signings to stimulate sales.  See here for details on self promotion.

If you are motivated to write a book for royalty money, please click the "back" button on your browser because you are on the wrong web site.  People write books to make their Momma proud, for self-promotion and for self-satisfaction, but not for truckloads of money.

What are the steps to produce my book?

As we noted in Why is my book taking so long?, there are hundreds of processes involved in producing a book.  Here are the major steps:

  1. Author writes material

  2. Author submits material

  3. Material is reviewed for technical accuracy

  4. Author addresses any necessary corrections for technical accuracy

  5. Material is copyedited by first editor

  6. Material is copyedited by second editor

  7. Material is copyedited by third editor

  8. Edits and comments are reviewed by production editor

  9. Author addresses remaining editor’s comments

  10. Material is copyedited by final editor

  11. Material goes to production editor for formatting

  12. The cover AI file is produced

  13. Formatted material is proofed by production manager

  14. A laser proof of the text is printed

  15. The laser proof is proofed

  16. A laser proof of the cover is printed

  17. The cover laser proof is proofed

  18. Cover laser is shipped to the printer

  19. Cover AI is uploaded to printer

  20. Cover AI enters Prepress at the printer

  21. Cover problem report is issued by printer

  22. new cover AI is created

  23. New cover AI is uploaded

  24. New cover AI enters prepress at the printer

  25. Cover problem report is issued by printer

  26. Another new cover AI is created

  27. Cover uploaded to the printer

  28. Cover enters prepress at printer

  29. Cover success report is issued by printer

  30. Printer produces cover proof

  31. printer ships cover proof to us

  32. Cover proof is proofed by us

  33. cover proof is shipped back to printer

  34. Necessary corrections are made to text

  35. Another text Laser proof is produced

  36. Laser proof is shipped to printer

  37. Text file is ftp’d to printer

  38. Text file enters prepress at printer

  39. Printer reports problems/issues with text file

  40. New text file is created with corrections

  41. New laser proof of corrections is shipped to printer

  42. New corrected text file is uploaded to printer

  43. New text file enters prepress at printer

  44. Printer produces the bound proof of the text

  45. printer ships bound proof to us

  46. Bound proof is proofed

  47. changes/corrections are noted if necessary

  48. Bound proof is shipped back to printer

  49. Printer sets date for binding once the Bound proof is back in the printer’s hands

  50. Once binding date is set Printer schedules the press

  51. Books are printed

  52. Books are bound

  53. Books are boxed

  54. Books are shipped

 

Why is my book taking so long to produce?

The book production cycle can take many months, depending on the size, type (color inside), and graphics.  Here is a sample schedule for a book with a publication date of July 2008:

  • September 2007 - Fact sheets prepared, ISBN registered, and ad copy sent for IPG catalog.  Author submits chapter delivery schedule.
     

  • November 2007 - The IPG catalog is printed and distributed to hundreds of salesmen.  Author starts researching and sketching out the content areas.
     

  • December 2007 - All of the IPG salesmen meet and develop a marketing plan for each book in the catalog.  Author starts submitting content.
     

  • January - March 2008 - The salesmen scour the globe and begin recording order commitments from the bookstore buyers and libraries.  Author tech review and copyedits are underway.
     

  • April 2008 - Book is assembled for final copyedit and review.
     

  • May 2008 - Book is formatted and table-of-contents and index are created and validated.  Graphic artists are hired to design the book cover, the library of congress number of obtained, the printing plant is scheduled, and paper and ink is ordered.  Author wonders aloud "What's taking so long?".
     

  • June 2008 - The pages are printed and collated, signatures are prepared and cover is printed.  The bindery assembles the book and delivers to the shipping dock.  The book is offered for foreign language translations and to Schroff Publishing for distribution to emerging nations.
     

  • July 2008 - The book is received at the IPG warehouse where it is checked-in and backorders are filled.
     

  • August - September 2008 - Your book becomes available on for sales on Amazon and other online portals.

Book production FAQ:

Q: Do we need to create the TOC or do they create it.

A: We need a high-level outline, but we create your TOC and index for you.  See sample TOC here

Q: You need TIFF pictures but what compression type and color channels?

A: We like pictures in the word doc, using paste special as MS-Word objects.

Q: Do you have your own reviewers/editors? How does it work, do we send one chapter at a time and it will go back and forth until it's perfect before going to the next or we send the whole book?

A: We have expert copyeditors, but we like volunteer tech editors.  They get a $100 honorarium and an autographed copy of the finished book.

Q: Is the deadline for an unedited version or the final version?

A: Un-edited.

Q: Should we indent the C++ code with 3 spaces, like the SQL code (according to the template)?

A: No, use the "code" type from the style sheet.

Q: Do we need to create an index for the draft?

A: No, just an outline of major topics.

Q: Do we need to create a foreword section in the draft?

 A: Yes, we will send you a sample from the front matter.

Q: Should we include the author details in a section in the draft or do they look after that?

A: Each of you gets a whole page each at the back of the book. It will have your photo, but we need a  more detailed bio.  Anything you like

How do I work with Rampant to stimulate book sales?

The author is the single most important component in book sales, and author self-promotion is critical to the success of any book.  Here are some of the best ways we can stimulate sales:

  • Opinion-leader reviews - The author can send Rampant a list of opinion leaders names and mailing addresses and Rampant will ship them free copies in-return for their promise to review and comment on the book.

  • Peer Reviews - Encourage your friends, co-workers and peers to review your book on Amazon and Bookpool.

  • Forums, chat rooms and discussion boards - The author should actively promote their book online, and include links to the books Rampant web page whenever possible.

  • Conference Sessions - We encourage all authors to present at local, regional and national conferences and we will ship 5 free books for you to give-away (i.e. raffle) at the end of your presentation.

  • Conference bookstores - If the author tells us about a conference where their book might be popular at the conference bookstore, we will arrange a special deal via IPG and the bookstore seller to ensure that you book is featured at the conference.

  • Consider a Publicist - Some authors hire publicists to get them on Tech-TV, radio interviews and book signings.

Why does it take so long to produce my book?

The book production process is very complex with many steps.  Rampant works with the Independent Publishers Group (IPG), who, in turn, solicits buyers from all over the world.  As you book nears production, the printing plant schedules the printing and allocation of warehouse spaces, all according to a pre-defined schedule.  The process start with submission to IPG which has has a bi-yearly release cycle, spring and fall.  This is a typical book release schedule:

  • August - ISBN is purchased and IPG notified of the book with a June pub date.  Rampant pays a large fee for the book to be included in the IPG sales catalog which is used by bookstore buyers worldwide to place orders for your book.

  • October - The Spring IPG catalog is published, featuring all Spring books.  Thousands of copies of the catalog are mailed to libraries and booksellers across the globe.

  • December - IPG flies their staff of hundreds of sellers to a conference where all new titles are reviewed and a sales plan is developed.

  • January - The sales force starts soliciting the bookstore buyers and encouraging them to place orders.

  • February - The author delivers the book and it starts technical and copyedit phases.

  • March - Editing is complete and the book goes into page formatting.  A graphic artist is hired to create the book cover.

  • April - The IPG pre-orders and coming-in and Rampant schedules a slot with the printing plant and arranges to purchase warehouse space to hold the inventory.

  • May - The book is printed and shipped to the main warehouse, where it is shipped to the individual bookstores.

My book has been in the stores for nearly a year.  Why can't the publisher tell me how many copies were sold?

When a publisher ships the books to the stores, they have with full rights of return, and they can keep the books for several years before returning them, for a full refund. 

We shipped over a thousand copies, but a thousand could come back, who knows?

There is the A.C. Nielsen Bookscan database, a point-of-sale tracking system, but less than one-third of bookstores worldwide use Bookscan.

In short, there is no way to tell how many copies have walked out the doors.  Hence your royalties are based on books shipped, minus an estimated percentages of returns from the bookstores.

How do I track my books sales?

There are very few places to track book sales velocity.  We suggest following your Amazon Sales Rank, viewing your books placement in snap-scan (www.snap-scan.com) and Junglescan (www.junglescan.com).   The Amazon Sales Rank (ASR) is the only “free” way to judge the true sales velocity for your book.  We receive periodic sales reports from the bookscan service twice yearly.

How do I find upcoming competing titles?

We like to use the Snap Scan web site ( www.snap-scan.com ), which as a far-right column that shows new and upcoming titles, based on your titles keywords.

My real sales are less than half of the bookstore orders last year.  What's up with that?

All order to bookstores are made with a full right of return so that the publisher, not the bookstore, takes the financial downside risk.  For example, this is what happens with a unpopular book:  Borders may order 300 copies of your book, keep them in circulation for three years and then return 250 un-sold copies.  Rampant is then stuck with the books and the author would receive royalties on the actual 50 copies sold.

How do I know if my book has a high sales velocity?

If your book is selling above the bookstores "hurdle rate", they will place re-orders, and trigger a second printing of your book.  Each bookstore chain carefully tracks actual sales velocity and a computer determines a "hurdle rate threshold" to trigger re-orders.  If you book sells fast they order more.  If you book is wasting space on their shelves they return it for a full refund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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