Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back in the saddle

If you are a writer, then you're about deaf from all the shouting and wailing in the publishing-biz echo chamber. If you're not a writer, then count your blessings that you don't have a clue what I'm talking about. After a five-book run with Harper-Collins, they decided not to renew my contract so in 2010 I became what we writers call, an orphaned author. I had other ideas I wanted to explore--steampunk, military-action--but got side-tracked into ghost writing and never finished one of my manuscripts. While I may have forgotten about my vampires, apparently I have fans who didn't, and I kept getting emails telling me to get off my lazy ass and write another Felix Gomez adventure. Meanwhile, the whole ebook, self-publishing world exploded. Several friends managed to jump on that train and made enough money to shuck the day job. And I have other friends who've made squat with their ebooks. Since I didn't have a publisher, and frankly didn't look for one, I figured it was my turn to get sucked into the self-pub ebook sausage machine. I did get some experience with a novel that I co-wrote, and the results swing between challenging and hopeful (taking the positive view). I finished my sixth Felix Gomez novel, Rescue From Planet Pleasure, and commissioned an artist who created an awesome cover. I was all set to pull the trigger and dive right into the self-pub mud puddle when at Comicpalooza I stumbled across the WordFire Press booth. WordFire is a small house run by Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Besides publishing their work they also feature a stable of excellent writers such as Peter Wacks, Quincy Allen, Heather Graham, and Frank Herbert (yes, the Dune guy). What impressed me was the enthusiasm of the staff. I compared their slick presentation with the staid and complacent Barnes&Noble booth where I signed. That got me thinking and I approached Wordfire to see if they were interested in signing me on. Which they were. One of the bennies in the self-pubbed route is that you get to keep all of the royalties your book makes, which can be as much as 70 percent. Then again, all the headaches in making the book available--paying for editors; getting the manuscript in the various ebook formats; designing a cover; arranging for print editions--are yours alone. If I signed with WordFire, I'd have to split royalties. But they would take care of the manuscript prep and publishing minutiae. One caveat of my contract was that I wouldn't get an advance, a keystone of a legitimate deal in previous years but not no more. Interestingly, the terms of my contract with WordFire are almost identical to what's in a contract a good friend got from Harper-Collins! He's not getting an advance either! Check back in six months and we'll see how I'm doing.

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Eileen Goudge said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I went a similar route, only I'm a hybrid author - I went indie with my latest project, but my back list titles are with Open Road Media, with which I have a deal similar to yours. No advance, 50/50 split. ORM is doing a good job overall. The lack of control I have over pricing with ORM was what led to my going indie. Not sure yet whether it'll pay off--too soon to say--but I do know it's a helluva lot of work and it more or less eats up your life if you're doing it right. So, in short, the jury's still out.