The Dragon’s Lair: Tips & Tricks with James Aquilone
Next up in my Tips and Tricks Series is James Aquilone!
James Aquilone is the founder of Monstrous Books, writer of the Dead Jack Zombie Detective series, and editor of the anthologies Classic Monsters Unleashed, Shakespeare Unleashed, and the 50th anniversary Kolchak: The Night Stalker graphic novel.
1.) As an editor / publisher – what are some common mistakes you see authors make when they sign their first contract?
People say you’re supposed to get screwed on your first contract, so authors often give away too much on those early contracts, believing that they’ll make up for it down the road. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes your first project is your biggest, and a better opportunity doesn’t come along. Look at Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who sold all rights to Superman for $130. Mike Judge sold Beavis and Butt-Head to MTV for only a few thousand dollars, though he was able to get the rights back eventually.
Early on in your career, you will definitely be given bad contracts. I’d advise getting an entertainment lawyer to look it over. They’re probably more important than an agent, who might not always be looking out for your best interests.
2.) What resources do you think would benefit authors as they attempt to jump these obstacles?
I think your best resources for things like this are other writers, people who have already gone through it. Talk to them. They’ll tell you who and what to avoid. If you’re thinking of working with a publisher or agent, message some of their authors or clients, or ex-clients. Many writers don’t want to say anything in public, but they’ll tell you what’s up in private.
3.) What advice would you give new editors or publishers as they enter the business world of publishing? Also, what challenges did you face when you entered the publishing world and how did you overcome it?
Treat it like a business. Work out a budget. Try to stick to it. Figure out your taxes. Be ready to lose money. But keep going.
Right now, the major challenges in the publishing world are paper shortages, printing delays, shipping delays, increased postage costs. The only thing you can do is plan well ahead and be aware of the ever-changing costs.
4.) A follow up, what resources did you wish you had as a new editor or publisher?
HWA is a great resource. I wish I had joined sooner. The community is fantastic and the members will answer any questions you may have.
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