Publishing Independence

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for an author to dissolve the contractual bands which have connected them with a traditional publisher . . .

As of last night, I’ve reached another milestone in this journey people call “being an author,” though I can’t really say this is one that I’m ready to break out the balloons and confetti over. What milestone?

My first book has been taken out of print.

Many of you have walked beside me on the journey of working on the book that was once called The Sword of the Patron. You saw me through the book’s involvement in Marcher Lord Select, through edits, and angst, and the excitement of interest from four separate publishers/agents (in 2011). Many of you supported the Kickstarter for the book’s release. You read and left reviews. You shared a sympathetic laugh with me as I received royalty checks over a few quarters. (At least the book earned out, right?) Thank goodness for mobile deposit, because some checks are hardly worth the gas to take them to the bank! I feel bad my publisher even spent the postage to send them.

But sometimes, you reach a point where it becomes clear that you and your publisher aren’t doing each other any good. The situation is far too complex to be able to point to one party or another to say why a book is struggling. Because the fact is, it’s probably a mixture of successes and failures on everyone’s part. But because it’s my nature, I will assume the full weight of responsibility for my book’s challenges; and therefore, I’m taking the initiative to make something better of the situation.

Now, to be clear, I’m the one who initiated the out-of-print status of Curse Bearer. The more I have looked at the state of my pursuit of writing, the clearer it has become that I have a bit of a reboot on my hands. Mostly due to my naiveté, I have gotten a stutter-start in this race, which leaves me with a story I want to see to its conclusion, but have no hope of seeing succeed though the traditional publishing model. Why can’t it?

Wrong publishing relationship—it’s not you, it’s me . . .
I won’t get into details here, but sometimes you and a publisher just turn out to be a bad fit. I’m an exacting pain, I can admit that. I’ve come to discover that I have too hard an entrepreneurial streak to comfortably leave some things in other hands.

Previously published, not-so-successful property
My understanding, from the publishing professionals I’ve bothered with this, pressing them for answers they kind of didn’t want to give (since who wants to be the bearer of bad news, after all?) is that in terms of traditional publication, The Risen Age Archive was “dead in the water” if I didn’t want to continue the relationship with Curse Bearer’s publisher. What acquisitions editor in his right mind would take on a Book Two of a series where Book One fizzled? If the series is going to gain any momentum, I need to start over, and it’s up to me.

Thankfully, the publishing climate is conducive to authors doing such things. Ten years ago? I would have had
Ironically, it may be doing so AGAIN this fall.
Just not with a Kickstarter attached.
to call this series a “lesson learned” and move on. I consider this an opportunity to see if I can make something bigger of a series that virtually only my friends and family know about. I can correct issues I’m unhappy with in the first book. Edit the whole thing, if I think it will help. It all boils down to elbow grease, and I’m not afraid of that.

So what’s the plan now?
Well, that’s still formulating. I’ve been hard at work on the continuation of the next Risen Age book, which I’m hoping to get out to a handful of test readers in a couple weeks. It’s a big, fat book, pushing 150,000 words at present. Now, lots of people say, “That’s cool, epic story, epic page count.” Artistically, I agree.

However, the reality is, the Print on Demand model drives the price per copy really high when the page count grows, which makes it REALLY hard for an independent author to offer a competitive price on a paperback book. This means the possibility of two books to follow Curse Bearer is (back) on the table. No decision made—I know half the world will cry foul if I release one big book, the rest will frown if I release two. In the next couple weeks, I plan to look at a breaking point between the books and decide if it’s just too unfair to make readers wait a few months between the middle section of the story and the conclusion, and whether that pain is greater than the pinch of a $20 paperback.

What I do know is that I will need to re-release Curse Bearer simultaneously with whatever book I choose to have follow it (middle installment or epic conclusion.) I’m batting around the idea of including my Kickstarter illustrations in the ebook version of the re-release. Plus a million other ideas. If I seem to disappear until late fall, you know it’s because I’m buried in edits.


All in all, I want to thank each of you for journeying with me thus far. Although I am overwhelmed today (let’s be honest), I’m also optimistic.  In the words of Jeff Gerke, now is a great time to be in the publishing business. My prayer is that I prove worthy of the test of stepping out in this daunting-but-burgeoning direction.

Comments

  1. It's scary, but it's fun, too! And if you're of an entrepreneurial mindset, this could be a really good move. You can actually play with marketing options (gasp!)

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  2. :D I always think that smaller is better.

    And hey, Conan Doyle did the serial thing, so did a lot of others. Also, you can always offer the book as an e-only. Lots of authors are doing that. Like "Okay, you want it all together? It's e-only and it's going to cost you $5.99 for the whole thing.

    You want a print copy but don't want to pay 20$? Then it's going to cost you $5.99 each part. Also, there are four parts. xD

    There are your options, now pick one and stop whining. Or I'll let your favorite character live long enough to come the villain of the next series.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I find this very interesting. I am thinking about re-releasing three of my books once their contracts run out, only doing it myself. There is something to be said for having control of one's own words and their success or faitlure...

    ReplyDelete

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