Saturday, September 26, 2009
Publisher Offers On Spinward Fringe and Comments On The Industry
I've been self publishing for the better part of a decade and I'm still learning about promotions and the publishing industry. Even my experience with a comic book company (that was very good at self promo thanks to a shameless CEO), and a design / promo firm didn't give me half the modern tools I have now.
While promoting a book is something I can do, it's still something I have to continue learning about from experimentation, observation and consideration. The lesson I've learned is that there's always some new way to get the word out, and it's important to decide early on how much effort you'll put into each method.
Now it's not just the self published authors like me who are left to do their own promotions. The vast majority of published authors don't get book tours, speaking engagements, television appearances, or advertising booked by or paid for by their publishers. It's all up to them. The few publishers who still dole out significant advances seem to expect the authors to spend most of that on promotions. Even an award winning novelist I had the chance to speak to at length a while ago flatly told me that the publicist his publisher assigns him works seemingly half heartedly until the book comes out and then promptly disappears, leaving him to find opportunities to promote the book himself. Good thing the novelist in question is exceptionally good at building buzz.
I just turned down a third offer from a publisher who wanted to publish the First Light Chronicles Omnibus and the first three Spinward Fringe books. It happened early last week, first there was an enthusiastic phone call and then some details in an email. They wanted the International book, ebook, film, television and audio book rights. In response I sent them my sales numbers for the last quarter and didn't hear back. I called them the next day and eventually got to speak with the person who had originally gotten in touch with me only to hear her say that their authors didn't make a quarter of what I did and it would take two years for them to republish the re-branded books. As it is I barely make a living on what those books earn, to hear that I would have to pull them off the market and stop writing full time just so I could get publishing credit for work that already has a following wasn't encouraging.
The conclusion? The Spinward Fringe Series will remain independent. All three offers on those books have been insulting, so I'm doing another editorial pass on the whole series with a couple of proof readers so they can stand up to and surpass publishing standards. If a publisher makes an offer on something else, say a horror novel, then they're welcome to it but the Spinward Fringe series is staying right where it is.
It seems to me that published authors are do it yourselfers to practically the same extent as I am these days, and with the difficulty publishers are having with adjusting to the arrival of the eBook, I wonder where their laziness and backwards thinking will take them.
[How important is it that your books come from a well known publisher? Is a logo important to you when you're book shopping?]