A few months ago I was giddily posting about the joys of being an “indie” publisher and the thrill of having some of my backlist, as well several new titles, finally available for readers. In this post I announce I’ve returned to the yoke of traditional publishing. I recently signed a contract to sell one of my historical romances to a small press. I won’t get an advance, but only make royalties on sales. And those royalties will be half or less what I make on books I publish myself. So, why did I do it? What soured me on being an “indie” so quickly?
Having control over my own work was fabulous. But as I discovered, it came at a pretty high price. With control comes responsibility…enormous and time consuming responsibility. I had to proof, edit and oversee formatting and cover art for my books, as well as market them once they were published. During the year it took me to release ten ebooks, and two print editions, I found I had no time to write anything new. None.
Since being an indie publisher meant I was spending all my time doing things I don’t enjoy (and in some cases hate), I felt I needed to rethink things. I began to explore the option of selling to a small press, and after some research found one that seemed like a good fit. Soul Mate Publishing publishes quite a number of historical romances, has a decent website and Facebook page and designs nice covers for their books. After communicating with a couple of their authors, who seemed pretty satisfied, I sent them a query. They requested a full manuscript, and within a few weeks, made me an offer.
Several aspects of their contract enticed me. They would initially own the rights to the book for six years, at which point we could renegotiate payment arrangements. They would not require any option on my future works, which means I can sell anything else I write anywhere else I want without offering it to them first. They would edit, format and, with my input, produce the cover for the book. Once it was released, they would sell it through their website, distribute it to other ebook outlets and market it through Facebook and blog. In return for giving up about half of my potential profits, I would escape the majority of the self-publishing tasks that I find most time-consuming and onerous.
I will still have to market my book. Any author nowadays has to maintain a website, Facebook page, do blog tours, etc. But that’s something I already have to do for my self-published books. But the other time intensive aspects of publishing are now at least partially someone else’s responsibility. Having made this decision, I started working on a new project (or, actually an old one: I wrote a proposal for this book over ten years ago). I’m now over halfway through the first draft, and would be even farther if I hadn’t gotten the flu over the holidays. If I were still going the “indie” route on the one I sold, I would have only three chapters finished of this new book.
There are so many publishing choices nowadays, and every author has to decide what is right for them, and right for each book. I recently "dusted off" another manuscript and plan to enter it in a contest with the goal of getting it in front of an editor from a New York house. Even if that doesn't work, I intend to start submitting it, first to larger houses and then smaller ones. I could publish this book myself, but at least for now, I've decided to spend what little free time I have after my on-going marketing chores are done writing rather than publishing.