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In the TV show Girls, the lead character, Hannah Horvath (played by the amazing Lena Dunham), gets a book deal with a traditional publisher. Like most traditional publishers, they paid her a small advance ($1500 – $5000 is pretty typical for a first-time writer). In exchange, they OWN her work. They BOUGHT her story.


I want you to really understand what this means because Hannah, like many of my clients, didn’t. She was THRILLED that a “real” publisher wanted her book but she didn’t think about the implications of selling the rights to her book.

Step 9 in my 10-step process to writing a book that matters is “Create Your Masterpiece.” This step is all about finding the right publishing solution for you. For some people, that means working with a traditional publisher, for others it’s self-publishing, and for a lot of people it’s some hybrid combination – like the equi-publishing option we offer at the Difference Press. The point of the steps is to understand all your options and to avoid signing a contract or making a decision until you know it’s the best way for you to bring your masterpiece to life.

On the homepage of the Difference Press website, you can sign up to get my free “Should I Self-Publish? Decision Tool Kit.” The kit includes my eGuide about publishing options, an hour-long teleclass, and an exclusive opportunity to consult with me about your book.

Anyone who tells you there is one right answer for how to publish in 2014, does not have your best interests at heart.

Like most first time authors, Hannah didn’t have the information in this kit, and when her editor unexpectedly died, her book was relegated to publishing limbo. Here’s the scene as it played out for Hannah:

Hannah (reading): “Miss Horvath, pursuant to our agreement of July 18th, 2012, the exclusive rights to your e-book are nontransferable and remain the property of Millstreet Press and all relevant subsidiary divisions for three years, effective the date of signing.”

Hannah (to a friend): My whole life was in that book! Everything that’s ever happened to me, okay?

  • The hand job kidney stone.
  • The time I fell asleep on a pile of pizza boxes.
  • When I made out with the Cuban refugee, then the thing happened with the glitter pens.

All of it’s in there!

And now what am I gonna do, live another 25 years just to create a body of work that matches the one that they stole from me?

What if nothing happens in the next 25 years?

What if I’m still living in this apartment wondering if there’s asbestos?

What will I write about then?

Why are they doing this to me?

Oh! Poor Hannah!

Look, there’s no right or wrong way to get your book published, but you owe it to yourself to understand the options. Wanna review them with me for free? Get my Should I Self Publish Decision Tool Kit and sign up for a free consultation about your publishing options.

P.S. Curious about how Hannah jerked a kidney stone out of a Puerto Rican Jew’s penis? (I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?)  Here’s the first chapter of her never-to-be-published, fictional memoir:

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