Adventures in SP #5 Publishers

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”:

  1. The E-book wouldn’t be released until October, the paperback late January.
  2. Their marketing strategy was simple, basic, and something I’d be doing myself either with or without them.
  3. 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….



2 comments on “Adventures in SP #5 Publishers

  1. 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?


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