Our publishing model
To assist authors with getting trained
in our methods, we provide a copy of
How to Write a Murach Book. This
400-page book shows how to do every
aspect of writing and editing a book
in the Murach way.
Until the last several years, we developed all of our books inhouse with our paid staff of trained writers and editors. We thought that was the best way to make sure that every book we publish is the best one on its subject.
As far as we know, we are the only publisher that uses that publishing model. The trouble is that this model clearly limits the number of books we can publish. In fact, one of the major complaints of our customers is that we don’t have books on some of the subjects that they need to learn.
So in the last few years, we’ve made some adjustments to our publishing model. Specifically, we started teaming up with outside authors.
- In 2011, for example, our editor Anne Boehm teamed up with web developer Zak Ruvalcaba on our HTML5 and CSS3 book, and the result surpassed anything we could have done without Zak’s expertise.
- A year later, Anne teamed up with ASP.NET developer Mary Delamater on the revision of our ASP.NET with C# book, and Mary helped us get that revision done faster and better than ever.
- Joel Murach has just teamed up with Java expert Michael Urban on a revision of our Servlets and JSP book, and they’re currently working on a beginning Java book.
To make this work, any author who works with us starts by getting trained in our methods. To provide some of that training, we give the author a copy of How to Write a Murach Book. It is a 400-page book that shows how to do every aspect of writing and editing a book in the Murach way, from planning the table of contents for the book...to planning the headings for a chapter...to developing the illustrations for a chapter...to writing the text for a chapter...in fact, all the way down to making the index for a book.
Then, when the project starts, our writer/editor works with the outside author to insure that the resulting book is the best one on its subject. That starts with the planning for the book’s table of contents and continues through the end of the project and into the marketing. When the book is published, the outside author may be the sole author of the book, or the outside author and our writer/editor may be co-authors. That depends on who did what and what the initial agreement called for.
The types of contracts that we offer
Today, the standard publishing contract provides modest advances to the author against a 10% royalty on net sales. That means that the author doesn’t get royalties until they exceed the advances. Worse, the royalties for about 80% of the books that are published never exceed the advances, which means the authors often make less than $10,000 for months of work.
In contrast, we develop a custom contract or agreement for each project that does its best to provide fair compensation with the chance of even larger compensation if the book sells well. No matter how we structure it, though, the contract has to work for you...and it has to work for us. So we’ll work with you until we reach an agreement that works for both of us.
What we’re looking for in an author
- Someone who has discovered our books, thinks they’re great, believes in our presentation methods, and would like to work with us on a new project.
- Someone who likes writing and editing, maybe even more than web development or programming.
- Someone who knows a subject well enough to write a book on it...although you don’t have to be a content expert.
- Someone who can quickly learn new skills because no one has all of the skills they need for writing a book before they start writing it.
- Someone who would like to work on more than one project with us because there is a learning curve on that first project, so the second project is likely to be far more rewarding than the first one.
What we’re looking for in a writer/editor
To this point, all of the talk has been about authoring a book for us, but we can also use another writer/editor who learns our methods so well that he or she can do the work of one of our inhouse writer/editors. The qualifications for this work are the same as what we’re looking for in an author, but with the emphasis more on editing someone else’s work than writing your own.
That means you still have to be able to understand the subject matter of the book you’re editing. You still have to be able to write or rewrite parts of the book. And you for sure have to edit the book so it meets our standards of excellence. The main differences are (1) you’ll be managing the project and the author and (2) the author will be the content expert for the book.
In many ways, being a writer/editor for us is more difficult than being an author, and it takes more training. But this can be a rewarding career, and we’ll be happy to talk with anyone who is interested in this type of work.
How to contact us
Just send an email to Mike Murach that tells us what you would like to do for us and what your qualifications are. Your initial inquiry doesn’t have to be long, but you do need to sell yourself and your ideas. We’ll also be happy to answer any questions you might have.
You can expect a reply in just a few days from the time that you send your email. Let’s hope that that’s the start of something good.