This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
Five years ago when my first novel, Spirit Bear, was accepted by an e-publisher, I was a happy guy. Sure, it wasn’t a traditional publisher, but it was a beginning.
The contract was for three years, included free cover art, a forty percent royalty for sales from the publisher’s site, and a complicated formula for sales by third parties.
It didn’t matter.
Within a year I had two more novels published by them: Eagleridge Bluffs and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients. The three books comprised the stand-alone series Eco-Warriors, contemporary romances with a sub-plot that addressed important environmental issues.
Sales for these three novels have been at best very disappointing, and at worst non-existent. They’re not great books, but they deserve better.
Like everything in life (at least for me) publishing is complicated. There are a myriad of reasons why a book succeeds or fails. I can’t deal with myriads of anything so I’ve narrowed it down to two elements – success is measured in sales and sales alone, and if I don’t have sales it’s because my books aren’t good enough.
I simply have to believe that an excellent book will find an audience. I still believe this despite mounting evidence it’s just not the case. For example, I’ve discovered three stellar novels: War in a Beautiful Country, The Last Bad Job, and Not Lost for Lookin’ in e-book oblivion - for free.
If these three authors could have their work overlooked, well maybe…
My last two books, Forest – Love, Loss and Legend, and The Big Picture – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic are commercial/literary and so it seemed pointless to list them with a publisher whose site features primarily erotica, fantasy, and genre romance.
Having some expertise in publishing and graphic arts it wasn’t difficult to self-publish. And guess what? My self-published titles are outselling the books on my publisher’s site. Let me rephrase that. My two self-published books are doing no worse than the three on my publisher’s site.
So within a year I’ll have withdrawn these three books from my publisher’s site and will re-issue them as self-published titles.
Will they do better? I don’t know, but here’s what I do know:
- Right now these books are listed for $5.99 on my publisher’s website. According to Amazon and Smashwords the price is too high. As a self-published author I can control the price.
- I can also be more engaged in marketing. With my publisher it was difficult if not in violation of our agreement to have sales, giveaways, or other promotions.
- They’ve only agreed to convert one of my books to paperback – Not Wonder More. As an indie author it costs me nothing to have a print version as well as digital one available to my readers.
- they can’t do worse.
Self-publishing is becoming more sophisticated all the time. The ease of use, value added marketing programs, and attractive royalties make it a viable if not preferable option over contracting with an e-publisher.
E-books will continue to flourish, but not, I think, e-publishers.