Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spinward Fringe: Publisher Offers $3,500 US For Rights

Some writers dream of a publisher coming along and saying; "Hello! We want to buy your book! We'll publish them, you can do signings, get recognition for your work and be eligible for awards!"

To be honest, I wouldn't mind. Despite my love of being independent, able to do whatever I like on the page and release what I like where I want, when I want, the living isn't fantastic. I'm very thankful for the income and support I have, don't get me wrong, but even with stable EBook sales on one website (Mobipocket my books aren't actually popular anywhere else), I'm barely making a living. Amazon sales are nonexistent (literally, I sold one book last week. Hope you're enjoying that Jason! Thanks for picking it up!). Aside from that I haven't been able to get a single vendor for IPhone EBooks to pick up the First Light Chronicles or Spinward Fringe series. Most of them just ignore my emails.

Now, I'm not belly aching, like I said, I make a very small living that's provided to me by Mobipocket customers and a couple of donators to whom I'm so thankful I can't put it into words, you make it possible to do this full time. I'm just explaining what was behind me responding to an email from a publisher yesterday (after the announcement that my science fiction books took the top 4 spots in Mobipocket's Science Fiction section yesterday, again, thank you Mobipocket and even more; thank you readers!!).

I replied to their email and got a call from one of their account reps, who put the offer on the table. I thought that was a little unussual, to be honest. Normally an offer on a book or a series takes a bit longer, or so I thought. According to him that's not the way it works though, and after a little prodding I got a little more info and eventually he even sent me a proposal contract.

For legal reasons I won't post the publishers name or the contract online but I can tell you that the publisher was not in the US or world top 10, and I'll give you the gist of the contract:

They offered a $3,500.00 US dollar advance on the entire Spinward Fringe series that included Freeground, Limbo, Starfree Port (actually in the First Light Chronicles Series, which the publisher didn't seem to notice), Resurrection + Awakening (they refferenced the ISBN assigned to the combined book available through, so I'm assuming they consider this one volume, not two books), and Triton. The royalty they were offering was also very, very low but would grow as they sold more books to a size that I still thought was really very low, but not quite as bad. The contract included printed books, EBooks, Television, Film and all other resulting merchandise, so I'd really be selling all rights and control.

I would also be obligated to work with an editor on the existing work (how much revision they wanted wasn't mentioned), and they'd take over branding, the covers (which could be a good thing), and publicity.

You know, I'm not in great financial shape, it's true, but after looking at the contract I wouldn't give them the rights to ONE book for those terms, let alone the WHOLE SERIES! Not only that, but I would be surrending a great deal of creative control and if I'm not mistaken I'd have to submit the book I'm working on now (Spinward Fringe Frontline), to them for approval, editing and then they'd probably drag their feet on getting it to press and into Ebook format IF they wanted to publish it at all. People waiting for it now would most likely not see it for a year if it hit the market at all.

Aside from all that, I'd probably get that advance check and not see any more funds for a very long time, so I'd probably have to get a full time job again, which would take a lot of time away from my writing. Suffice it to say, I told politely told them that I wasn't interested and haven't heard a so much as a peep from them since.

Now, I realize that conventional publishers invest a lot of money in a book, that new authors are very high risk, and a lot of books that seem to do well still lose money or take a very long time to turn a profit. I'm not completely new to the publishing industry and I'm aware that offers, big and small, don't come often especially if the author doesn't have any kind of agency representation.

So, I'll say it now;

If there's a publisher or agent out there who can personally offer or get me a real, fair deal for the sale of any of these books and/or exclusive rights for development or publishing then I'll be happy to consider your fair offer. I'm a reasonable person, all I want is to see these books remain accessable to the public, reasonably priced, to maintain the creative freedom I need to tell a good story and I want to make enough to write full time, pay my bills and taxes. If they want to saddle me with an editor who can help me tell an even better story, or maybe suggest some good technical tune ups and tricks, that's fine too. I'm always looking to improve my craft.

I don't want awards, I don't want a mansion on the hill with two Ferrari's in the driveway, and I don't want someone to hold my hand while I'm writing or suggest sweeping revisions that make my work fit conventional moulds, even if it'll make the books more marketable. I get emails from people who enjoy my work on a weekly basis, I sell just enough to survive and have a couple of people who have so much faith in me that they donate some of their hard earned money, and I have the most intelligent, emotionally invested editor I could dream of.

Spinward Fringe Frontline will be out in April, the momentum, the story, and the readers demand it. You'll see that book on Mobipocket, maybe even on



I'm all right with not being wealthy, I'm also all right with never getting another offer again as long as I have the support of my readership. I owe everything to them and truly believe that if I remember them I'll make the right decisions creatively and monetarily. Please voice your opinion of this situation below, I'd like to hear your comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you didn't cave in. I enjoy your work and my 12 year old son loves it. I really appreciate how you keep it clean as well. This way I can recommend it to my friends and their kids. Have you considered trying to get an agent? Not that I know much about that business. Anyway, thanks for sticking to your guns and keep writing!