Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Taking Control

Of my writing career, that is.

Recently, there has been upheaval with one of my publishers. (I'm not naming names...) And with a couple of other publishers, I've had few to no sales of some books.

I don't like to ask for things, and I hate confrontation. The obvious thing for an author to do when a publisher might be failing or at least is struggling, or when books aren't selling, is to ask for the publishing rights back. Meaning the book is back in the control of the author, who can then decide whether to send it to a different publisher, self-publish it, or leave it to collect dust on the hard drive.

But I was afraid to ask, because I didn't want to make anyone mad, and because with the books that weren't selling, I was taking all the blame on myself instead of splitting it with the publisher, which is how it should be. Publishers and authors are BOTH responsible for making sure books sell. That's one of the reasons some authors choose to work with publishers instead of self-publishing.

Finally, though, I realized that leaving those books where they were was not only not doing me--or the publishers--any good, it might actually have a negative impact on my career.

So I asked. And as of last week, I have rights back on five books published under my YA pen name, and three Karenna Colcroft books (two of which were never actually published; they were contracted and then got lost in an editorial shuffle at the publisher).

One of the Karenna Colcroft titles has already been accepted by another of my publishers, and my editor there has agreed to look at the previously published Karenna title once I do some sprucing up. One of my YA publishers has agreed to look at one of those books once it's reworked a bit, and three of the other books have a tentative future elsewhere.

The other books... I'm not sure. One of the ones published under my YA name wasn't actually YA and probably should have been a Karenna book, but it doesn't fit any of my current publishers. And one of the unpublished Karenna books is a little harder to find a home for. I've had folks suggest self-publishing those, but...see above, where I said that some authors work with publishers so they aren't solely responsible for making sure their books sell? Yeah. I don't have much marketing/promotion savvy, and between that and the upfront expenses of self-publishing (editing, cover art, etc.), it isn't something I have much confidence in my ability to do.

But even if those books do end up collecting dust on my hard drive, it's better than having them out there not selling, or having them with publishers who might not market them properly.

It's a matter of taking control of my own career, something I should have been stricter about right from the beginning. I haven't always done right by myself and my books, but that's changing.


Tina Donahue said...

You did the right thing, Karenna - can't wait for anyone to make your career happen - it's always up to the author.

jean hart stewart said...

I agree in principal, but sometimes the publisher won't let go. If they refuse to give your rights back it can be a big damn mess....

Fiona McGier said...

One of my publishers just sold out to an unknown and I refused to sign the paperwork for my books to go along with everything else. So I got my rights back to those 4 books and 2 have already been contracted for re-release by my new publisher. I'm working on redoing and submitting the other 2 also.

I'd rather be with a publisher who works with the author, helping with promotions and being supportive, rather than being ignored as I was before. And fortunately my contract time was up for all 4 books, Jean, so I didn't have to fight to get them back.

I work too many hours at my jobs to have the time to go the self-publishing route. But it seems to work well for many authors.