In the interests of full disclosure, I did re-query one agent. That was after a friend referred me to her publisher and I’d received a contract offer. I mentioned that to him, and re-sent the info he’d originally asked for. Still nothing. So, about that publishing contract:
Because my friend had mentioned the book to her publisher, I was asked to send a query; so I did, of course – who wouldn’t? And it was very exciting – a real publisher and all! Boy, was I excited! The gal told me she’d get back to me in a few days. Except…it was 24 hours later! That’s when she asked for the full ms, to which I complied, and said I’d hear back within a week.
Talk about complusively checking email – I did that after querying all those agents, too, but this was even worse! And, it was over a weekend!
Just a few days later, however, I got an email with a couple questions: was this a series, or was a sequel planned? And how willing was I to participate in marketing, etc.?
Oh, heck yes! Whatever it took, I was in – and I’d already started writing the sequel anyway.
The next day, I got the contract. ALL of this happened in just under a week. By the day after that, I’d turned it down.
Am I crazy? Maybe. Probably. But here’s why I told them “no”:
- The E-book wouldn’t be released until October, the paperback late January.
- Their marketing strategy was simple, basic, and something I’d be doing myself either with or without them.
- They don’t work with bookstores.
Yes, I’m impatient. But I also own a bookstore and know the importance of getting out the merchandise BEFORE the holidays, not after. All of their “marketing” involved free/easy/simple online things, which I already do for said bookstore or could easily sign up for and do myself; the one exception was their authors’ group, but approximately 100 of my Facebook friends are also writers which kind of negates that “perk.”
And wait – don’t work with bookstores? They told me that I’d have to sell my books to stores myself – based on their 50% author discount. So I did the math. I would pay $7 each to buy books from the publisher, then haul them to a bookstore; the bookstore would pay me just over $8 per copy, when the books sell. My cut of this came to about $1.50. Huh. On the other hand, if they sold my books to a store at a 40% discount and paid me on that other 60%, I’d earn about the same thing. The big difference was my hauling books everywhere.
Now, if the book isn’t coming out until after the holidays, and I have to do 95% of the marketing and selling, and I can actually make almost $9 per book with direct selling – and over $3 each selling to bookstores at a standard discount – why in the world would I choose to go the traditional publishing route?
Actually, there is one reason: the tendency for trad publishing to look down their collective noses at self-published work. It’s changing, slowly, but it is changing. A lot of booksellers don’t really care, as long as the book is good, but some do; many will indeed accept your book but on a consignment basis – that shouldn’t be a problem. Buyers don’t know the difference, and it simply means you do have to work to sell your book; but you should be doing that already!
So, that’s why I turned down a publishing contract and went the SP route….
Thanks for sharing this! It’s definitely a scenario I question myself each time, even now as I’m going through the querying process. I constantly remind myself that even if I went the traditional route and got my book into stores via a publisher who does sell to stores, there’s still no guarantee the book would sell. I’m glad you are experiencing this from the author’s perspective now. Thanks to E-publishing and SP and indie supporters like All On The Same Page, we don’t really need the gate keeping publishers to reach our readers, do we?
You’re welcome! It was a hard decision, but I think I made the right one! [[keeping fingers crossed]]