First: A very Big Thank You to those who have served to protect our country.
Next: Tomorrow is the last day for my May contest, given the dearth of entries, it's likely to be the last contest I run here for a while. Click the contest tab to enter.
When I started writing, my first publications were with e-publishers, so I've certainly been aware of the digital market from its infancy. I have several titles from my back list that I decided to publish independently, but I recently decided that I would bypass a publisher for my next book. It wasn't an easy decision, but I thought I'd share some of my reasoning, as well as the pros, cons, and potential pitfalls.
First: I'd hoped to add two more of my back list titles, but I have yet to get the official reversion of rights from that publisher, so they've been relegated to the back burner.
Second: my two short stories aren't due out in an anthology until August, and based on what I've seen with that publisher, it's not a firm release by any means.
Third: I'd already written the fourth book in my Blackthorne, Inc. series, and had to decide if I should submit it to the publisher.
Although I have a new release, WHERE DANGER HIDES, it's a hard cover, which means its expensive, and since there's no digital version, I'm aware that it's going to be a hard sell. Heck, I don't buy full-price hard covers, so I wouldn't expect a huge number of sales.
1. Five Star publishes only in hard cover, and they have an extremely limited distribution system, targeting only the library market.
2. They publish a very small number of new books per year, so there's a long 'wait' between books even if they do buy one.
3. My second book with them, WHERE DANGER HIDES was just released, but the third won't come out until April of 2012. If I submitted a 4th, the earliest I could expect to see it would be 2013. Now, if they paid a substantial advance, the one book a year schedule might work, but they don't.
After some consideration, I decided that I would publish book 4, DANGER IN DEER RIDGE myself, even before book 3 was released. As I wrote it, I made sure that this book wouldn't contain spoilers for the "previous" books, although members of my covert ops team appear in all the books. Also, this book brings back characters from the second book, which IS already out.
No lengthy wait time.
Keeps "new" material in front of readers.
Royalty payments come directly to me.
It's not as much of a 'suspense' as the other books, and the 'covert ops' side of things is less of a focus, so it's quite likely the publisher wouldn't have acquired it anyway, since they no longer have a romance imprint.
To ensure quality, I paid a free-lance editor and a cover artist out of pocket. I also made the decision to keep the cover "similar" in tone to the other Blackthorne books, even though it's not an obvious "romantic suspense." And because I used photographs I'd taken, I saved some money there.
I had to deal with the other things a publisher normally does. In the case of an e-book, that means formatting it for the various outlets (and there are different requirements for each). It also means I'm solely responsible for marketing.
The book is technically book 4 in the series, although I wrote it as a stand alone, given that the publisher considers only one book at a time. With book 1 out as an e-book, after rights reverted to me, and book 2 out only in hard cover, I'm looking at two totally different markets. But book 3 is a year away, and there are those (myself included) who don't like to read "out of order" even though you don't need to read any of the previous books. The kicker for me was that although the publisher grants e-rights to authors, they have to wait a year after release to exercise them.
There's still the impression that a self-published book isn't going to be as "good" as one published by a traditional publisher, either print or digital. "Did you self-publish?" seems to carry the unspoken, "because it's not good enough to go elsewhere."
It's not always a simple "click upload and your book appears" situation. As of this writing, my book doesn't show up on the Kindle site if you go to my author page, although if you search on the title, it's there. The Barnes & Noble site hasn't uploaded my cover yet. And, even when everything's done and "pretty", without a huge following, people won't find my books unless they're actively looking for them. I'm hoping these are simply the 'normal' issues when uploading new books.
I won't sell enough copies to recoup my investment.
The time required to keep an e-book visible amidst the masses of new books, and the competition with "big names" who are now going the indie route for backlists and original material is prohibitive. And the rule of thumb is, the more books you have to offer, the better your sales will be. But if you have to spend your time marketing and promoting, where is the time to write more books?
So, this is kind of an experiment. Will I lose money? Break even? Come out ahead? I'll be waiting to see.
And When Danger Calls, Book 1 in the series, has been reduced to 99 cents. Another experiment to see if that price point will generate enough sales, and also to see if there's crossover to my other books. Buy links here.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society