Episode 25: On Writing Horse Racing History & Legal Considerations for Writers with Milton C. Toby (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 25: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Milton C. Toby. He is an award-winning author, journalist, and attorney with more than forty years of experience researching and writing about Thoroughbred racing and equine law. You'll learn ...
Watch Milton C. Toby's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Milton C. Toby
Milt Toby is an attorney and author who has been writing about Thoroughbred racing for more than 40 years. His ninth book, from the University Press of Kentucky, is Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing’s Most Famous Cold Case.
Milt’s previous books include Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby (winner of the $10,000 first prize in the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award honoring the year’s best book about Thoroughbred racing, and an American Horse Publications award as the best equine book of the year); Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred’s Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky (Milt’s second American Horse Publications book award winner); and Cañonero II: The Rags to Riches Story of the Kentucky Derby’s Most Improbable Winner.
Milt also was a contributor to Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, published by International Thriller Writers and named USA Book News Book of the Year. Thrillers also was a finalist for the year’s Edgar, Anthony, and McCavity awards.
President of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the nation’s leading organization representing freelance writers, Milt is a popular speaker discussing the business side of writing, copyright, publishing contracts, and other legal issues affecting writers. Please contact him to arrange a speaking engagement for your group.
Milt lives in Central Kentucky with his wife, equine veterinarian Roberta Dwyer (an accomplished author and editor in her own right), and a modest but much-loved menagerie: Burdock the Dalmatian, Echo the Doberman, and Winston, the gray and white cat that recently joined the family and immediately took over the household.
Milton C. Toby Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: How did your love affair with horses begin?
Milton: I have been involved with horses in one fashion or another for as long as I can remember. I grew up in central Kentucky with Saddlebreds. I showed horses through high school and while I was in college and then I began writing after I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Agriculture. My first published article was in 1972 about the Belmont Stakes for a small newspaper in Aiken, South Carolina.
I haven't been riding very much since then, but I've been writing about horses primarily Thoroughbred racing and legal issues involving the horse business ever since, so it's literally a lifelong love for me.
Carly: Tell us about your books.
Milton: My current book is an award winner at the EQUUS Film and Arts Festival which I was really excited about. The book is called Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case.
Milton: When I was working at the Blood Horse in 1983, the big news item from Europe was the theft of a stallion named Shergar. He had won the Epson Derby and was one of the most famous horses in the world. He was second or third most valuable horse Thoroughbred in the world in the early eighties. He was stolen on the eve of the 1983 breeding season. He was held for ransom and the ransom was never paid. The horse was never recovered. There have never been any arrests. There have never been any charges. There's never been any convictions, so that's why I'm calling it a cold case. The file is still open with the Irish police.
Dancer's Image was, until 2019, the only Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified and it was a drug test. There were a lot of questions about the validity of the test. There were questions about the competence of the state chemist and that case went on for five years of legal wrangling.
I found his disqualification fascinating because I'm an attorney and that allowed me to present a perspective that no one else had done about Dancer's Image. A portion of Dancer's Image:: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby is about the horse and how he got to the Derby, the fact that he won, and then was disqualified, but 2/3 of the book is about the legal issues that came up afterwards.
Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby was the
winner of the $10,000 first prize in the Dr. Tony Ryan book awards honoring the year's best book about Thoroughbred racing, and it also won an American Horse Publications award as the Best Equine Book of the Year.
Milton: The book before that was about a horse named Noor. He was an Irish bred champion in California in 1950. He beat citation four times at the time and then he stood for stud at a farm in Northern California. He wasn't particularly successful when he died and he was buried in an unmarked grave in the middle of the training track at the farm.
There was a wonderful woman in Northern California named Charlotte Farmer. She is the most excited racing fan that I know and she was convinced that this would be a sin to pave over Noor's grave for a project they were doing at the farm, so she began a one-woman campaign to find his grave and take him to be reburied.
The first part of Noor:: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey From California to Kentucky is about Noor as a racehorse. The second part is about Charlotte's campaign to do justice to Noor.
Carly: Let's talk editing and copy editing. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between the two?
Milton: A copy editor is someone who goes to the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. They pick up grammar. They pick up punctuation. They pick up
misspellings. They pick up the mechanics of what the writing is.
A development editor, on the other hand, is somebody who doesn't look so much at the mechanics. They look at the story. They look at where it's going and ask if it is getting where you want it to be. The advantage there is you have someone who doesn't know the story as they're reading it the first time, so they can know better where it makes sense and where it doesn't.
Carly: Would you explain how publishing advances actually work being that you are an attorney and you understand these things?
Milton: Let's say that I get a ten thousand dollar advance for a book. That's ten thousand dollars advanced against the royalties that the book will earn, so what that means is that the publisher thinks that your book will make at least ten thousand dollars in royalties. They are going to give you that $10,000 now, but you won't get any more royalties until you've earned out or until your book earns out the advance, so until my royalties would equal $10,000 I'm not going to get any more royalties.
You typically don't have to pay an advance back, but you aren't going to get royalties unless the book earns enough for you to have equaled the advance that you got in royalties. When you're talking about royalties, you're not talking about very much money. The going right now for a hardcover book is about 12% and it's 10 to 12 percent of net which is basically wholesale. For a 30 dollar book, net wholesale is probably 16, 17, 18 dollars. 10 percent of that 12 percent, you're looking at a couple of dollars a book, so if you get a ten thousand dollar advance it's going to take a while for the book to earn that out.
Connect with Milton C. Toby
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About Podcast Host & Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!