Because of you, by the end of this post, I will have made up my mind…

Thank you for being out there, reading, listening and commenting. I’m experiencing some kind of living-room epiphany by talking to you this way.

Since last we convened, I’ve investigated self-publishing e-books through Amazon (making use of their Print on Demand facility in case readers actually want a real book), ‘proper’ publishing through Amazon’s 47 North imprint, e-book publishing through indie publishers, getting a new agent, going direct to some of the mainstream houses through my small network of contacts and the public-backed ‘donation’ route using sites like Unbound, Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.

The funny thing is, it’s only when I report back – attempting to present it coherently for someone else – that I think hardest about what I’m trying to achieve.

Here’s what I’ve decided about the print book versus e-book question, for example: There is no versus. Any title popular enough (that’s the kind of book I’m interested in writing, in case that wasn’t clear) will appear in both formats. Not all readers want e-books only and not all readers want print books only. And stacks of people with e-readers still read print books. Suddenly, thinking about it in public like this, it isn’t an issue for me any more.

The real question is: do I use the new publishing models and possibilities to take matters into my own hands?

Answer: no fucking idea. Yet. Just need another minute or two to think it over.

What concerns me is this: is e-pubbing (self or otherwise) the best way to make a new start? Further probing (and by that I mean listening to commissioning editors when they talk) suggests that mainstream publishers aren’t interested in books which don’t have electronic rights attached. In other words, if you already published or self-published your work as an e-book, chances are the big guns won’t be interested. There are exceptions – David Moody and Amanda Hocking spring to mind. They’re not the only ones and they won’t be the last but they are still rarities for now.

What does this mean for me?

Patience. Yes, even more of the blasted stuff.

I need to wait until I’ve explored every mainstream avenue. Why am I still pursuing the ‘traditional’ route, you ask?

Because my instinct is that two of my novels have the potential to sell significantly both as print and e-books – I’m not suggesting that’s true for all of them, mind, and I understand that I may be wrong in my assumptions (after all, I’m only an author, as I mention in the disclaimer). Nonetheless, the only way those two novels will have that opportunity is if they land on the desks of editors at the bigger houses (separately – see post about multiple submissions!).

If, by some miracle, one of them is taken on it’s still a very slim chance of it selling well in print; even the biggest publishers can’t get every title into bookshops in the quantities necessary to sell novels in big numbers – but it’s still the best chance I’ve got for a result in both formats simultaneously.

I can achieve little of this, however, without an agent. I simply can’t get my work in front of every commissioning editor on my own.

So, am I going to self-publish right now? Probably not. Am I going to release my titles as e-books through an indie publisher? Unlikely. Am I going to look for public backing? I doubt it.

Am I going to get a new agent? You betcha.

And it’s all because of you.

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12 thoughts on “Because of you, by the end of this post, I will have made up my mind…

  1. Yes! I could almost feel Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 stirring in the background as the post went on. Damn the man! Damn the system! Damn being damned! You will rise again!

    I have to point out I’m not actually stoned right now, just in a peculiar mood for this time of day, but YES to choosing your own path and not diving into something your unhappy with just to feel like you’re back on the horse when in reality you’d just be riding a digital horse made up of 0s and 1s and 99p price tags.

    If you say your novels have the potential to sell big in print then I say congratulations to the new agent that takes you on.

    But what do I know; I’ve never been published (technically)! In a complete and utter bastardisation of Woody Allen’s quote about being bisexual I think trying both traditional and electronic routes just gives me doubles the chances of being rejected.

    Good luck and keep us loyal fans updated!

    • Based on your comment, Steven, you ought to be published. I love it.

      Thanks for the back-up, too. It would be so easy to take one of these routes just because ‘I can’. But that’s usually the worst reason for doing anything, isn’t it?

      So I say ‘Fuck you, I CAN, and the horse you rode in on!’ If that makes any sense at all.

  2. Good luck on your quest to find an agent, Joe.

    As Stephen said, make sure you keep us loyal fans updated!
    Oh, while you’re here, Mr. Chapman, just out of curiosity, which cupboard have you hidden the Red Dwarf tickets?
    🙂

    • They’re hidden in the digital ether, Ian. Even I haven’t ‘seen them’ seen them. I just know they exist and they’re on the way! If only I had a spare, I could auction it off and make a fortune 😀

  3. Sounds like a super awesome, and very solid conclusion to reach! I’m really happy for you, and that you’ve “made peace” with this decision (for as long as it works for you)! I really do have every faith that you will find an excellent agent and they will be able to provide their expert support in getting those two special books out there. In the meantime, keep on writing, man! You have plenty more popular works locked away in that head of yours. 😀

    ~Ashlee
    http://ashleesch.com
    http://theDragonsHoard.bigcartel.com

  4. I think you are making a mistake. If you self publish those two novels now… they start making money for you the next day. Sitting around waiting to be noticed by an agent for six months to a year and then sitting around waiting another six months for your books to find a publisher and then waiting another two years from signing the contracts until your first book hits store shelves… you are talking about sitting on those two books for two to three years.

    Plus, by the time those books do hit store shelves, eBooks will be the dominant format read by most people. You are giving an agent 15% of the 17.5% that the publisher gives you instead of taking 70% of the eBook straight from Amazon.com.

    It is a numbers game. You make more money selling less copies if you publish on your own than if you go through a big publisher.

    I think you could place novels with UK publisher Angry Robot in a heartbeat. They have an open submissions event coming up in January or February and you have the advantage over most people — you are a published author. However, Angry Robot only gives a $10,000 advance. That works out to about $400 a month after you less an Agent fee or to put it in a more meaningful context — that is the same amount of money you would get by selling 200 books a month on your own on Amazon.com at $2.99 per book.

    I would buy a new eBook novel from you tomorrow as would many of the people who have read Meat or Garbage Man. It wouldn’t take much self promotion and a little good word of mouth for you to hit 200 sales per month. I’ve got a little zombie short story up on the Kindle that sells over 100 copies per month and I don’t do any promotion at all, it just sells.

    If you hire out a decent artist to do cover art you could have those books up and making money for you inside of 30 days. 60 days after that you get your first check from Amazon.com — or you can have it direct deposited into your account.

    We are all in love with the dream of having our book up on a bookshelf somewhere, but the bookstores are going away. Why wait for the dream when you can make it happen yourself tomorrow?

    • It’s good of you to take time and comment so thoroughly on this, Phillip. I’m embarrassed how long it’s taken me to reply.

      You’re right, it can take 2 – 3 years to go from no representations to a ‘standard’ book deal. Sometimes it takes even longer but I think it may take around a year in this particular case.

      The publishers I’m discussing my back catalogue with are offering 50-80 % royalties on e-books. Having a publisher do the formatting, editing, proofing and cover art frees me up to write more books. I’m happy to split the proceeds 50/50 on that. There’s no agent involved so there’ll be no commission to worry about.

      Your figures comparing Angry Robot advances and self-publishing make a lot of sense. If the people I’m talking to now are interested, then I’ll be doing more or less what you suggest, which is very cool.

      As I’ve said around here somewhere, having been published in the traditional way and having already seen my books on shelves, I’m not too fussed any more about how my stories reach their readers. If the world goes ‘e-book only’, I’ll be there. However, I don’t think that’ll happen – see my thoughts on this in question 14 here.

      I still want to deal with publishers because they help to maintain quality and they can market and publicise a lot better than I can alone – even with the fan base I already have. Publishers get books reviewed in the newspapers of the world – online or print! – and enter books for national and international prizes. They have editors who will spend months going over my work in an attempt to improve it. When a book takes off in print, it’s most often the publisher that’s responsible for making that groundswell possible. Print books sales are dropping and e-book sales are on the rise, I’d be a fool to deny the trend. I remain unconvinced, however, of what that points to in the longterm. I’m for sitting back and watching developments before I ‘do a Konrath’ with all my fiction!

      I think some writers are looking at e-book publishing as a kind of revolution in which authors wrest power from publishers and march triumphant onto the amazon Kindle ‘best-seller’ charts. There’s no denying E-books have made it incredibly easy for anyone to publish themselves and make money doing it. There’s also no doubt that if publishers want to hang on to their writers, they’ll have to alter their royalties on e-books. But just because I could get my work published online in a heartbeat doesn’t mean I should do it. There’s a bigger picture here, even if I can’t yet see what it is.

      (Hopefully, not a huge billboard saying ‘Hey, D’Lacey, you’re an ignorant jerk and your work is destined for the scrapheap!’)

      I’m very fortunate to have so much IP at my disposal and I will do my best, Phillip, I promise you, to use it wisely and not throw it away on poor or sudden judgements. Some of it will be self-published, I expect. Some of it will be e-book only through an indie press and some of it will continue to go the old route. One thing I might do experimentally is begin releasing short fiction ‘singles’ as self-pub e-books and then collect them into e-book volumes later. I must have around fifty works of short fiction knocking around, so that seems – like your zombie tale – a good place to begin. If it goes well, I may abandon the ‘old’ ways altogether but at the moment I’m in no hurry.

      Thanks again for your input here, Phillip. I think I owe you a poem!

  5. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post and as always, best of luck with your career. The world needs more D’Lacey books!

    In addition to Angry Robot, another great place to send your stuff would be Deadite Press. They are good people and they have been publishing some of the best horror authors around now that Leisure books has crashed and burned.

    I sent off an order for cover art for one of my self-published novella’s last night and I’m pretty excited to see where going at it on my own will take me.

    I publish all my longer works under a pen name and I would like to build that into a brand of its own and see if that eventually gets me one of those Million-Dollar Hocking deals. Heh.

    Again, best of luck to you!

    (Did you want me to reserve that billboard space, just in case?)

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