The Quote Of The Week - Physics Analysis Organization
    By Tommaso Dorigo | December 19th 2013 04:10 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    "The senior signs the paper, the post-doc thinks, and the grad student executes"

    F.S., explaining how the typical nucleus of analysis group in HEP works.


    Sounds about right. That was the line-up on the paper I co-authored as a graduate student. The other two were generous enough to make me Senior Author, although my contribution was definitely less than 1/3rd. I didn't think they were so generous when I was immersed in the proof-reading, though!

    David Perkin.

    Mr T- comments closed on your book thread. I would ask, are you sure that you need a US agent (I assume you mean publisher)? If you are confident in your editorial skills (or ability to find competent proof readers/critics) I would suggest you consider going the self-publish route. All that a traditional publisher will add for you is publicity, however you already have a pretty large publicity machine right here. A traditional publisher will also keep a far larger share of the profits.

    Using a printer such as LIghtning Source, you can distribute directly to Amazon, B&N, etc at a discount of your choice (generally beginning at 25%). Be aware, to get your title in a traditional bricks and mortar (in the US at least) you will need to offer approximately a 50% discount to list as well as accept returns. For that reason, most authors stick to the lower discount and no returns. For a 300 page softcover, the production cost is about $4.75 for b&w and $9 ish for hard cover. (I know this as I have a title in print through LS).

    The quality is excellent and frankly is better than some books I've pulled off the shelf in traditional book stores. My text was written using LaTeX and output to pdf in the appropriate page size. That was easy. The harder part is getting a good quality cover image - color and print is far more complex than most people realize! Feel free to contact me by email if you would like any additional info.

    I think a publisher has value beyond publicity because, really, their publicity won't be that great. They have a canned list of 200 people they will want to send things to and he does have a better list on his blog.

    What they do offer beyond publicity is calibration - and we all understand the value of calibration. If someone is willing to pay you for the book, it is a good book. If they are not, it either forces you to persevere despite that or maybe optimize it so it's more appealing. Publishers want to sell books to their audience and they need to make money doing it. They buy smartly. So a publisher contract is validation. Without a publisher, you are in a group of a million other people self-publishing. On a second book, sure, a writer knows what works.

    There is also the issue of the advance. To self-publish you have to write the whole thing. A publisher is paying you to write it.
    Hank - I think you overstate 'calibration' - there are many, many (most?) books put in print by recognized publishers which are simply trash but that they believe they can turn a profit. Just like any other good or service, we can all scratch our head and wonder why some people pay for it but they do.

    I also think you overstate (indirectly) the value of having a mainstream publishing house behind your title. When was the last time you look at who published a book? I really doubt many people look. In this age of on-line buying (its only a matter of time before Barnes and Noble closes up as the last big retailer) most people search on keywords - subject/author or by category.

    As to up front money - yes that would be a plus but as many authors have "regular" jobs in the end I'm not sure it matters if you are paid on the front side or backside.

    The two real advantages big publishers have is a) editorial staff and b) publicity machines (including better access to reviewers). But as I originally said, if one is already well known and popular, (b) can pretty much take care of itself.

    Thank you for your suggestion, AS - but I do prefer to try and reach more people than to gamble on it - money is important but not the only thing. Also, I do not have the 20-40k US$ needed to invest in the endeavour.

    T - thats fine, though I do think you would reach many people on your own (look at the success of your blog here). Of course, if you have a publisher willing to throw a big pile of money at you ... :)

    Just in case others who are considering writing read these comments - $20-40K to market is quite high side. Editorial services run roughly $50/hr and cover layouts on the order of $600. The setup related to production, including ISBN's runs about $350. Depending on one's access to graduate students in the English department, total costs can be kept pretty low if the author does at couple passes over the manuscript before turning it over to an editor. The biggest problem most authors will have is exposure/publicity and picking a subject which has enough reader interest.

    I forgot to mention in my reply to Hank, I did my publishing through a corporation I started (free to incorporate) so my title does show up with a non-individual listed as publisher. And you shoudl see my legal disclaimer!