I started this blog in July 2013, when I decided to take my writing seriously. A year later (and with several books under my belt), I made one of the most defining decisions of my career so far. I said ‘no’ to a well-known publisher.
Around Christmas last year, I decided to try submitting to agents. Curiosity dictated I at least give it a go. I blogged about it here. Five months later, I had a handful of rejections, one very promising ‘Great, not for our market but keep shopping it around’ from a publisher, and a ‘Yes’ from another publisher. I hadn’t expected much, so when the ‘Yes’ landed in my inbox, I wandered around the house in a state of shock. We arranged a telephone meeting. We talked about The Veil Series, and where we could take it. The editor was lovely, although the answers she offered were vague. This was an ebook only deal, and if the book made enough sales, it’ll go into print. How many sales? I asked. “It depends on the market conditions,” came her reply. How about copyright? “70 years,” she replied.
Weeks passed, and not a great deal happened. A few emails bounced back and forth but the cogs turned slowly. In that time, The Veil Series started gaining ground on Amazon. My ranking climbed. And when the sequel was released in May, things really got interesting. Sales blossomed. I hadn’t heard from the publisher, so I assumed they’d lost interest (and a part of me was already wondering if going traditional was right for me).
Let me stop there and say publishers have it tough right now. They’re stuck between a rock and hard place. They’re analogue, in a digital age. I do not blame them, but if they don’t evolve, they will die out. It’s natural selection at work. The noises I heard from the publisher were not nearly encouraging enough to run a business from – and that’s what being an author is. A business. Maybes and possiblys won’t cut it. Don’t get me wrong, many authors would jump at the chance to have a publisher take the marketing out of their hands, leaving them doing what they do best – writing. I come from a business and marketing background. I’m used to sales targets, budgets, projections, and a part of me really didn’t feel comfortable with hanging my future on maybes. I took a look at their existing ebooks – checked out their rankings – and found my work ranked higher in all instances.
Then there’s the story and the characters. I’m attached to them. They’re my babies. The world I’d created was resonating with readers. If the publisher took control, would the series lose some of its gritty magic? Would they try and shoehorn the books into a marketing category that didn’t fit?
So, after much internal monologuing, when they did finally start the ball rolling, I said no, and walked away from having a lovely shiny stamp of approval on my work, from the ‘Traditionally Published Author’s Club’. Did I do the right thing? Only time will tell. I didn’t start this journey to ‘win’. I’m a writer, so I really had no choice, I was already treading this path from the first time I penned a little story in my pre-teens. No matter what happens, I will always be a writer, and nobody can take that from me. It’s enough that I can reach out to my readers directly. I control the story. If I fail, it’s on my head. In a way, I’ve already succeeded in what I set out to do. I’m telling stories. Readers don’t care what publishing house is behind a book. They rate a book on its merits. Before I seriously considered writing, I couldn’t tell you what publishing house had published any of the books on my shelf.
Of course, there is still a place for traditional publishing, but with terms that benefit the author, not stranglehold him/her. The publisher that approached me was forward thinking and tech savvy. For another author, someone not as content with marketing as I am, I’ve no doubt they’d be a perfect fit. I was lucky, humbled, and honoured to have caught their eye. It took weeks for me to wrestle both sides of the argument. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Maybe there’s another ‘me’ out there, and in that parallel universe, she said yes. I wish her the best of luck.
So, this is me. Going it alone. Authorpreneur. And I’m smiling.