Trigger Warning: If you’re an author and you’ve separated from your publisher (whomever that may be) for reasons that don’t include them bilking you out of your royalties or author copies or deliberately derailing your career as an author (or, because like me, you wanted to see your book IN PRINT), I’m asking the hard (er…nosy) question: WHY?
(The “trigger warning” is there in case this is still a sore subject with you, so you won’t send me anthrax through the mail or some such in revenge for my “confrontational” post.)
Something has been stuck in my craw for several months and I’d like to get it out.
I signed with my publisher, Booktrope, more than 2 years ago. I find myself still happy here. But in those 2 years, other authors – some of whom I consider friends – have decided to leave Booktrope and self-publish. To the best of my knowledge (because this is what some of them gave as their reason), most – if not all – left because of disagreements with their team and/or the management, or because they weren’t selling as many books as they felt they SHOULD be selling. I’ve had both of these issues (not disagreement with management, but with members of my team) at Booktrope, but for me, it’s about the bigger picture: I’m here 1) because I want to see my book(s) in print, 2) to network with readers and other publishing peeps, worldwide 3) learn as much about the publishing world as I can, 4) make enough money to help pay for the gas needed to continue visiting bookstores.
I know something about publishing and self-publishing. I was involved with “desktop” publishing for several years, interned with a publisher for my MA and when I was ready to reveal my book baby to the world, researched self-publishing, while submitting to more than a dozen agents, all of whom rejected my queries, though some offered great advice. While I became good over the years at handling rejection (thanks to years of live theatre auditions, most of which roles went to other auditionees…auditioners?…I digress…), it still isn’t my favorite experience. Especially since I’ve read some of the drivel that’s out there (represented by some of those same agents) and wonder how in the world agents think those authors’ stuff is better than mine! Yes, those books sell, but ONLY because agents’ and publishers’ paychecks (*cough* advances *cough*) are at risk. If those authors had to do their OWN marketing, how popular do you think their books would be compared with our books? And some of OUR books are on International Bestsellers or #1 lists!
Sure, I can throw images together into a collage, but I’m not a designer. And I knew how I DIDN’T want the cover to look. I was fortunate to find a newbie designer through deviantart.com and we agreed on a fee that was well within my budget. But my book would never see print because I couldn’t afford to pay for print copies and my sales weren’t exceptional enough for NHP to take a chance on print pub. I had to do ALL my own marketing. (WHERE TO START?!) And despite an undergrad background in mass communication (which includes advertising/marketing and working on a university newspaper), I suck at selling myself. Too much anxiety. And I couldn’t afford a publicist. Ironically enough, I have NO problem promoting or selling other authors’ books. Just my own. Go figure.
My contract with NHP allowed me to seek print publication elsewhere, and Booktrope’s hybrid publishing model was my book’s savior. Best of all, I got a cover designer, and book/project manager and my book IN PRINT AT NO UPFRONT COST to me!! I didn’t care that there was no advance with the contract. I’m not in this business to get rich, but because of my love for the written word and a desire to share that love and my words with others. (It’s an ego thing, you see. *shrugs*) I much preferred – and still prefer – the promise of higher royalties weighed against an advance that my book(s) may never earn out. THAT would be a MORE anxiety-ridden scenario for me.
So, I got a beautiful professionally designed cover AND a marketer who knows what she’s doing. SUCH a load off my back! I CAN market myself, but I need guidance and assistance. For all of my smarts, I don’t know everything (*gasp!* I know, right?!) and sometimes suffer from information overload. Tell me to search out ways to market my book(s) and I may miss something or my brain short-circuit because of SO MANY opportunities. HOW DO YOU KNOW which is/are the right one(s)?! I can afford only so much trial and error. Give me an outline of strategies, THAT I can follow, and breathe a sigh of relief. Speaking of which, Gravity Imprint‘s Melissa Flickinger (Book/Project Manager) & Rachel Thompson (Fearless Leader & Marketing Guru) are always quick to inform we in the Gravity realm of marketing opportunities. 🙂 (A little plug here for Rachel’s Marketing Challenge!)
So, knowing the cost of all this stuff, WHY, in the name of all that’s holy, do people WANT to self-pub??!! Do they dislike Booktrope THAT much?? Yes, as a self-published author you have almost limitless freedom, but Booktrope’s hybrid model in which you get to PICK your own book/project manager, editor, proofreader and cover designer (unless you’re part of an imprint like Gravity, then you have a shortlist to choose from – but it’s an awesome shortlist!), and you don’t have to worry about their fees BECAUSE THEY GET PAID IN ROYALTIES. Please tell me, where are you going to find a better deal than this? Yes, I offer freelance editing, and several current and former Booktropians have hired me on the side. I have NO problem with this, as it’s extra – ADVANCE!! – mulah in my pocket. But again I ask you, WHY?
As an author, I’m on my 2nd editor, my 2nd BM/PM, and have been through 3 cover designers (at least one who quit without so much as a by-your-leave). And I knew NOTHING going in, other than this awesome publisher was – somehow – going to help me realize my dream of seeing my manuscript in print. I learned as I went and gladly share my knowledge with other newbie authors. When I’ve had an issue with someone – either on my own team or as an editor/proofreader on another author’s team – we’ve either worked it out, or I’ve left the team once the project was finished (I’ve only done this once in 2 years). NOTHING has happened to induce such anxiety and depression that I would choose to leave Booktrope entirely. The management has always been helpful and supportive of/for/to me.
And you know what? I don’t plan to leave Booktrope. Ever. You guys are stuck with me. I’m going to be like white (er…or brown) on rice. Like feathers on birds, and
armpit hair…maybe not that one…well, you get the picture. This company is THE BOMB! and has been awesome (I think I use that word too much…) to and for me. My editor resume is growing, my Twitter feed has exploded, my blog and review portfolios are gaining momentum, I’ve made great friends and contacts, I’m part of a kickin’ imprint (Gravity) which I absolutely love and support wholeheartedly, and my royalties are growing.
The grass is plenty green on this side of the fence. So somebody please tell me: WHY would you want to leave?!
…I hope we’re still friends…Have a cookie…