Saturday, October 2

Saturday Scribbles: The Argument For More Than One Publisher

Hey, everyone. Are you proud of me? I'm actually making my first scheduled Saturday blog. Don't get used to it.

 If you are an author, publisher, editor, or review and would like to write an article for the blog, contact me for dates open.  This is the first of my blogs on the writing biz. It will cover everything from writing basics to promo. Today, I am tackling the idea of having more than one publisher.

Many of you probably don't know my publishing history. In the winter/spring of 2004, I was offered my first contract for the book The Hired Hand from WCP Torrid. But, because I write so fast, I had other books out to other publishers. Within six weeks I found myself signed with three different publishers.  So, from the beginning of my career, I have always had more than one publisher. And in today's market, I think it is a smart thing for an author to do, especially if he/she writes as much as I do.

Just an FYI before I go on further. I am not talking about NY publishers. I'm not published by them, never will be published by them, so I pay little to no attention to what they do. What I am talking about is small press publishing. That is something I know very well. I've had eight publishers in the last 6 years. I still have a lot of books at six of them. And, I have enjoyed a lot of benefits from it.

The main one is diverse reading audiences. This is changing a little bit as the readership shifts to buying their digital downloads from publishers to retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But, you still find readers are loyal to the publishers. As a reader, I skip around, but many do not. You will find die hard Samhain fans, long time EC readers and Siren has created a frenzy with their Menage Amour line. Many of them will not venture to another publisher, unless they have read you with that publisher. Writing for the different publishers allows you to tap into that well of readers and bring them your other work.

Working with more than one publisher also give the opportunity to work with more than one editor. I have always enjoyed editing. Oh, I bitch until the end of time when I have edits, but I do like to look back and see how different my writing is because of my editors. I have had some good and some bad editors. But, I think all of them taught me something along the way.

To make a living in this business, you need more than one publisher. Okay, there are a few people who do not, but for the average author like me, having more than one publisher allows you to have more releases a year. Some publishers have caps on how many books you can have coming out, the more money you can earn. I'm sure you can tell by looking at my sales ranks at different places, you can tell where I make my most money. But making the big money is also about having your books out there, and even if I don't earn as much money off one book or another, it is all part of the pie of wonderful royalties. Maybe I feel this way because I can finish a rough draft of a category book in less than a month.  But, remember, while you might not make as much money at one place as you do another, you need to take them all seriously.

And, to speak to that last point. I have had a lot of people come to me and ask if a publisher will get upset if they go somewhere else. Has this happened to me? Yes. I had offered rereleases to one publisher. My editor said, thanks, but no thanks, I want your new stuff. I was cool with that.  I then went somewhere else with the books and the publisher got pissy about it. Do I regret it. No, not one freaking minute. Of course, when I explained to the publisher that I had offered it to my old editor and she had passed without even looking at it, there wasn't much they could get pissed about. It is irrational for a publisher to expect you to hold onto things they don't want. Your writing is your business (and this is for those popular fiction people out there. I do not want a bunch of people who could care less about making money tell me that  I am wrong. This is for people who want to make a living at writing popular fiction).

Of course, this is a business. While I get pissed when I am ignored sometimes I do understand that I do not garner the attention as, say, the lovely Lauren Dane. She's a national best selling author, so she is of course going to get more attention. It is a waste of energy to get pissed if a publisher should pay attention to her.I would question the business sense of a publisher if they ignored someone like Lauren. She is an excellent writer with a huge following who does great things for any publisher she writes for. So, imho, it makes good business sense for the publisher. That makes me have more confident in the publisher, to tell you the truth.
 But, it is also irrational if a publisher turns something down and you go somewhere else and they get upset. Hell, even if you want to go to another publisher and don't offer it to your main publisher, they have nothing to complain about, unless it is covered in your contract.

 This is a business  and you are your best advocate. No one, not your editor or even your agent, is going to look out for you better than yourself. Loyalty to publishers is a big thing, but you can be loyal to several. I know that sounds odd, but in my book, being loyal means putting out the best work you can, working with your editor and the marketing department, and promoting your book.

As I said, you are your best advocate. As we have learned in the past, publishers can close without warning, can be bought out, or editors can leave and you can be assigned to someone who hates your work. I am not just talking about small press either. Dorchester just announced a major change that sent ripples of anxiety through the industry. Authors found themselves in an odd situation, and without protection. You need more than one publisher for that protection. You need that safety net to keep your name out there with the readers so that you can keep selling. And that is the name of the game. If you want to be successful, you can only go so far with one publisher. There is always a chance that you will hit BIG and explode in sales with one book, at one publisher. But, as a Capricorn, I always like a back up plan, a safety net as I mentioned before. If you are uncomfortable with being at more than one publisher, then stay.I am not saying this is the only way to make money. What I am saying that is you can diversify your reading audience, build a reputation and protect yourself if you do. Remember, this is your business--have I said that enough?--and you have to do what is best for you. 


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've heard it is best not to put all your eggs in one basket.

We know that some e-publishers fold after a while, so maybe it's best to try and get your work spread out a bit.

Valerie
in Germany

Melissa Schroeder said...

Val, that is the part of it. Some people only have the ability to write one book a year. That's not me and I really wouldn't want all of them with the same publisher. I think it actually helps the publisher if you are not expecting them to be your sole source of income. That can get very tense if there are few spots for books.

Tina said...

I wondered why I found your books everywhere. You always have great insight to the inner workings of the world of publishing. Although I am not a writer I find it very interesting how a book makes it to my hot little hands. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the publishing world.

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