So, I figured out why it’s been so hard to get a publishing deal. Obviously, I’ve been making it really hard on all the publishing houses by having my agent do all that submitting and schmoozing stuff. That’s no fun and way too much work. So, I’ve decided to make it much easier on everyone. Here is a handy-dandy “Publishing Deal” button. Just press it and make your best offer. Man, I should have thought of this sooner.
I’m highly overdue on a geeky publishing post. I’m constantly tracking the industry and trying to figure out why they continually give me the finger. It usually leads me to post something off-putting and bitter, so I’ve avoided them altogether. But surprise, surprise, I’ve found something positive to post. Read on!
I have been a fan of Robert Miller’s ever since he started the HarperStudios imprint. He’s created a mainstream publisher that follows an unconventional structure to get books to market. He avoids the huge advances, gives the author a 50% take of the profits, has convinced retailers to forgo a liberal return policy that cripples most startup publishing houses, and relies heavily on the author’s existing online platform to build a durable marketing strategy. In short, the guy get’s it. He’s created something that was virtually unheard of before now, a nimble company that continually experiments with publishing models in order to keep pace with technology.
Here’s an excerpt of a recent article he wrote for Publishing Perspectives:
I don’t think that this solution goes far enough. I believe that publishers and authors should be equal partners, sharing profits fifty-fifty, as we are doing in all of our deals at HarperStudio. The author brings their creative work to this partnership, and their commitment to do everything in their power to help their book succeed. The publisher brings their financial risk (under our model, the publisher puts up the publishing costs, including the advance to the author, from which the author can decide to help the marketing effort if they’d like, or not), their passion for the project, and their staff time (we don’t charge any overhead to the profit split; the authors don’t charge for their time spent marketing the book either).
This financial structure requires both parties to think responsibly about costs, since both parties will be charged for those costs at the end of the day. The result is that the relationship is much less adversarial.
The question each day is, “What should we be doing for this book?” not “What have you done for me lately?” It feels healthier to me.
Ok, I have been fielding questions now for about a year concerning Book Four of the Oz Chronicles Series. First, I want you to know that I really appreciate your interest. It means a lot to me that you care enough to keep needling me about the release of the next book in the series. Second, I appreciate your tolerance for my cryptic answers. I haven’t felt comfortable enough to tell you what’s really going on behind the scenes because it doesn’t just involve me. It involves my agent and about a half dozen major publishing companies. I have spent a lot of time responding to comments and suggestions from the big boys just to show them that I’m willing to play by their rules. Don’t worry, I’ve pushed back on major plot points that I thought were essential, but I’ve also given ground on things that were more aesthetic in nature. So far, I’ve gotten pats on the back for my flexibility, turnaround time, and skill at applying suggested edits. What I haven’t received is a book deal.
Breaking down the doors of the mainstream publishing industry is the hardest thing I’ve ever done from a professional standpoint. I’ve heard that getting a book deal is akin to winning the lottery, but I think it’s much easier to win the lottery. Getting a book deal is as hard as winning the lottery, discovering a cure for cancer, and having your Youtube video go viral all on the same day. I am in the fortunate position of having an agent who is my advocate in this process. She’s been terrific, and I now know why they are necessary.
I have been at this for a long, long time. I am one of those writers that has five manuscripts and 12 screenplays sitting in a drawer somewhere. They’ve been viewed by an elite group of people, and by elite, I mean people who were willing to read something written by an unknown bum like me. I’m not counting the three Oz Chronicles books in this count. They’re not sitting in a drawer. Thanks to the POD and ebook world, they have been read by literally thousands of people. In fact, I have been perfectly content with offering my books through these low-cost, high-tech vehicles. From what I’ve learned about the industry, I’ve made enough money and then some to cover the typical advance for a first time author. I’ve done it with a marketing budget that hasn’t exceeded $1,500 since I first self-published in 2005. I have what the mainstream publishing industry calls a working platform to get the word out about my books. Essentially that means I’m an active blogger, Facebooker, and Tweeter. In short, if you’re reading this, you’re a part of my platform. Please, don’t feel used. This is less a marketing tool for me than it is a release. Call it my place to vent and make a fool of myself. The marketing part is just a byproduct at that venting.
I have been asked repeatedly if I’m doing so well with POD and ebook publishing, why even try to get a traditional deal. It’s a valid question. I have a few answers:
- There is no question the mainstream publishing industry can offer me a level of prestige that the self-publishing world cannot. To be totally crass, this means more money coming in. My platform will broaden, and other doors will open for me. I consider my writing my career. What I do to earn a living, supports my writing. A mainstream deal means I am one step closer to my writing also being how I earn my living.
- I have always seen the Oz Chronicles as a multi-media project. It is not just a series of books. It is a video game, a graphic novel, a series of films, action figures, maybe even an online role playing community. A mainstream publishing company could give me access to all these different avenues for the Oz Chronicles. I can publish a book on my own, but I can’t produce a video game on my own. I’m not that smart or financially fluid.
- I have to finish this thing. I started this “publishing (or selling a script) as a goal” journey 20 plus years ago. I have been rejected time and time again. I have been told I am so close over and over again. I have been ridiculed on a few occasions (very few). I’ve even been called evil for my writing. It may seem petty and pigheaded, but signing that dotted line will justify every turn I’ve taken and every word I’ve written. It’s not like I’m dodging bullets to get published. I’m just fielding a lot of no’s.
What does all this have to do with Book Four of the Oz Chronicles? Everything I’ve written in this post to this point has been one big excuse for why I haven’t published Book Four yet. I’ve let it languish in limbo while the major publishers weighed in on Books One – Three. I’ve placated my writer’s soul by writing another book in the meantime (which I’m planning to publish soon), but I’m not willing to wait anymore. Book Four is officially on deck. I’ve had a hard time getting back into it, but I had a breakthrough the other night that gave me the direction I needed. I’m actually excited about getting it done. Always a good sign. I also realized that I have five other books I want to complete, and I have forbidden myself to get back to them until I’ve finished Book Four. I will keep you updated on word count as I go. Right now, I’m at 7,500 words. My goal is 65,000. So, you can see I have miles to go before I sleep, but the outline is done, and I’m ready to turn this march into a sprint.
Thanks for your patience and if you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help. There is. Spread the word!