Friday, July 1, 2011

Unpublished Author, How Can I Negotiate?

Why a high five and not a typical handshake?

Remember when we were kids at the lunch table and a Twinkie traded for like two Fruit Rollups? Both kids happily eating the snack they prefer, Moms never the wiser?

True, successful negotiation is teamwork. Everyone gives a little to get something they want, all parties left generally happy. In self-publishing, negotiation skills are a must, and nobody wants a party to feel "shafted." Why? Because "So-and-so screwed me over" travels much faster in the link sharing, social networking universe we live in than the other side of the story.

When will a self-publishing or unpublished author need to negotiate? ALL THE TIME. Blog tours? Usually a quid-pro-quo situation. Advertising on reader blogs? Negotiating is the only way to get a reduced rate.

There are a number of skills an author should use in negotiating. Throw out any ideas of playing hardball. This is about bringing people on your team, and you joining theirs.

  1. Be nice and professional, even when the answer is a "No." This is just a counter offer. By being courteous back, you never know when someone will say "Oh, alright." Especially if they think you are walking away. Don't be fake, but being polite makes any offer much sweeter.
  2. Give a reasonable offer, not a low-ball. If you don't have much of a marketing budget, that's okay to say so, but don't expect to buy a $50 image ad on a blog that regularly charges (and gets) $300 for the same ad. Now, maybe ask for a $50 text ad, or offer to buy 2 image ads for $250 each. 
  3. Only make promises you can keep. Don't say your blog has 100 visitors a day when it only gets 20. Remember how fast bad press runs? It's okay to trade for a future favor, but make sure you are 100% prepared to deliver, or go above and beyond (and most likely inequitable) if things fall through.
  4. Expand beyond yourself. Becoming friends and acquaintances with people in other professions, and with other skill sets, you can help people find each other to trade services. It might help you get a discount, or bump you up in the line later on.
Negotiation is about being real with expectations, what you can deliver, and how it will help both of you. Finally, the most important part is to remain mum on the details of a negotiation, unless the other party has given you permission to disclose the terms. A reader blog might not want it widely known it will take two guaranteed ads at a discounted price (there might have been income shortfalls that month). 

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.


  1. Good advice. I've always believed in the kill 'em kindness mantra, and I think lying about your resources is part of the rudeness factor.

  2. Thanks Jen! So many writers have never had to negotiate things for themselves, and might mistakenly think like negotiation is portrayed on TV or in movies. Or even in business thrillers. Being a bully doesn't work. even in the case of a reader blog giving a slight break on advertising, they still win later on when that author tells two other author friends about advertising there.

  3. Great post! There is some amazing advice here and your story sounds like something I'd love to read :D I'll be following your progress on ROW80.

  4. Thanks Sandy! Speaking of ROW80, after church today I will be working diligently to finish off this first draft. It's being a little bit of a stubborn mule, but I'm going to show it who's boss! :)