Monday, December 2, 2013
Okay, so I just have to share this with ya'll:
Now..I don't know how most of you feel about self publishing, but as a multi-published author who eventually turned to self publishing in an effort to actually make money at this job I have...I tend to feel a bit biased. My publishing adventures were a mixed bag. Some experiences were good, others were ugly. Some where fun, some were hell. But overall, I made the decision to take my established readership to the self publishing world for two reasons:
1.) I was tired of doing what other people told me to do with my own books, and tired of the loss of control in traditional publishing.
And 2.) I wanted to make money at this job I was devoting 50+ hours a week to. Simple math: if you remove the middle men--you make more money. Period. That doesn't mean my traditional publishers were stealing my money, it just means I was making PENNIES for every book sold, and when I did the arithmetic, it turned out I was working thousands of hours for roughly ten cents an hour.
Yeah. Not much.
So I turned to self publishing. And I've found some success with self publishing. In fact, I've made a steady monthly income with self publishing. Not a lot, but enough. And for that, I am grateful, and proud for having made the leap into self pubbing.
Here comes my issue today:
So yesterday, I get an email from Renegade YA (Never heard of it? Me either...) who said they'd bought eTopia Press' young adult line (UNDERWATER is published with eTopia press) and they wanted to transfer my YA to their line, to give it more exposure, and to market it with like books. (eTopia's books are infinitely saucier than UNDERWATER is, so my sales have been dismal, to say the least--I'd assumed I would ride out the contract, get a prettier cover, and self pub it someday.)
I said why not? Sure, I'll transfer my book to your line, and we'll see if I can get more exposure and more sales. It will be a test of traditional indie publishing vs. self publishing. Maybe Renagade YA will convince me that traditional publishing is best.
So after I agreed...I asked if I would get a new cover (because I've never been pleased with UNDERWATER's cover.) They said no, they didn't intend to give any of the books from eTopia new covers. So then I (GASP!) dared to ask if I could design a new cover myself.
Instead of saying, "No, we like the cover as it is" they withdrew their offer. They said for me to leave the book with eTopia, and ride out my contract, since self publishing is clearly what I want to do.
Um....hold up. You're WITHDRAWING your offer because I asked if I could make myself a new cover? Wait. What? You couldn't just say no?
So here's my beef, dear readers: I'm fine with waiting out my contract with eTopia. UNDERWATER, and it's sequels, will be there forever, and I will someday get to make my pretty cover and tell Luna and Saxon's story in full. Of this, I have no doubt. In fact, that's what I intended to do in the first place, so really, it's no skin off my nose.
However...in the space of one 24 hour period this Renegade YA company (which hasn't even launched yet) has managed to remind me of EXACTLY why I no longer publish with indie presses. They've flexed their muscles, showing me who's boss, and reminding me why I refuse to share my earnings (however meager they may be) with a middle man who does one tenth of the work that actually goes into the creation of a story. This, my friends, is why indie publishers are a dying breed, and why I believe that if you don't have a contract with a big 6 publisher...you're better off self pubbing and keeping your pennies all to yourself.
Because if one simple question about a cover is all it takes for these people--who 24 hours ago wanted me to think they were the greatest thing since sliced bread--to turn on me...then what's to say it will be any better once the ink is dry on your contracts. You will have no say in what is done with your book, you will have no control over your covers, your characters, your publicity, or your brand...and what's worse is, you'll have very, very little money to show for it. And I don't know about you, but I have a family to feed.
Check out my email back to these nifty people right here:
"You're withdrawing your offer, simply because I asked to redo my cover?
Wow. Unimpressive. A simple "No, we prefer the cover as is" would have sufficed. I never stated I was unwilling to do the footwork to sell Underwater to a broader market, I simply asked if I could make a new cover. Your retraction is based on one detail, when there are many facets to my willingness, capability, and skill as a successful multi-published author--who also happens to bring in steady money as a self published author. Thanks for reiterating exactly why so many fed up authors have turned to self publishing.
Your business will eventually fold, like all the other indie publishers, and then you'll be wishing you'd not acted so superior to the very authors who could have made you money. This may take a few years, and you may find mild success in the meantime. And that's wonderful. I'm sure you deserve it. However, self publishing is the direction the industry is heading, and indie publishers will eventually be obsolete. As soon as more authors wise up to the fact that they can make actual money without the silly middle man who takes most of their earnings to pay for their "professional covers" and mediocre editors, they'll stop signing away a percentage of their earnings to support unsuccessful authors who started their own "publishing companies" to get their work out there. Which, I'm sure was Renegade YA's original motivation.
Your unwillingness to work with existing and established authors, or merely treat them with respect by upholding your offered contract, despite a friendly difference of opinion about a cover, speaks for itself. I wish you luck in this new business venture, it seems you'll need it.
Thank you for the well wishes.
Do yourself a favor...either get a big 6 contract and make yourself a crap-ton of money, or self pub and make yourself a decent living doing what you love. Because if you are signed with a publisher who intimidates you into a cover or edits that you hate, and unnerves you to the point where you have to be afraid of having offers & contracts withdrawn simply because you've dared to contradict them...you're not getting the most out of this incredible industry that you could.