Thursday, 4 April 2013

Why I Declined a Publishing Contract.

Only last week I was offered a publishing contract for my debut novel, Bloodgifted. And like every newbie writer out there who receives one of these emails from a publisher, my excitement knew no bounds. I even splurged on an expensive bottle of red wine to celebrate with family and friends. It set my budget back for that week, but what the heck! It was worth it.
Then came the contract and that's when fantasy rudely bumps into reality!

1. Royalties
When I originally submitted my manuscript to the publisher, I checked their website and knew they were offering 40% royalties. Now, that sounds good compared to many others whose royalty payments are designed to keep their authors humble - aka, poor. But, what I didn't realise was the royalty payment (40% gross) referred to books (ebooks) sold on their website.
I'd like know how many readers actually go to a publishers website to purchase books? Personally, I don't know of anyone. But, maybe I could be wrong.
Then there's the net payment of 40% on ebooks sold through online retailers, such as Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Booktopia and Barnes and Noble... etc.
After taking their slice of the proverbial cake, what would actually be left for me?

I also noticed this publisher was a little slow uploading their author's titles on to those online retailers. They've been sitting on the publishers website for longer than a month now, and as yet I haven't seen them on Amazon, or anywhere else. That's at least 4-6 weeks of lost royalties.

2. Digital Only
What swayed my decision not to accept the contract was that this publisher was digital only. They don't do Print-on-Demand. Maybe I missed that in my hurry to submit, maybe not. I know ebooks are here to stay, yet how many of us authors long to hold a paperback copy of our books in our hot little hands? I do, and so do many of my friends. They still like the old-fashioned smell and feel of a 'real' book. Why deny them?

3. Cover Rights

A local graphics designer created a beautiful cover for my book which would have been modified to suit the publisher's taste. Now, I know I could have let them design a whole new cover, but I absolutely love my current one, and if I let them modify it I'd lose my cover rights.
The problem with that is, were I to self-publish in hard copy form (since I would hold paperback rights) I would have to create another cover.
I don't even want to contemplate the trouble that would cause. Imagine my ebook with one cover and the paperback with another! Amazon would have a field day!
So, not going there. Ever.

4. Publisher's Brand
Okay, call me a prude, but what finally persuaded me not to accept the contract was the their brand. It would have labelled my book as erotic - which it is not. It's simply not my cup of tea, as they say. More importantly, as a Christian, I don't want to give the wrong impression to my readers, let alone my family and friends.
It was probably my mistake submitting to them in the first place, although their books range from the sweet and romantic all the way to the erotic - just like every other publisher of chic lit these days.
I guess, as an author, there are things easily overlooked while desperately striving for that 'holy grail' -  the publishing contract.

But, I'm grateful for this one thing - they proved I have a book worth publishing, and for that I owe them.
So, now what? Looks like I'm going indie!

Did I do right? I'd love to know.


Rogenna Brewer said...

What are you waiting for? Publish it so I can buy it already :)

Colin Wright said...

You'd be very welcome at the Asymmetrical Community ( — a burgeoning forum for indie authors & publishers to share resources, advice, help each other alpha edit books, etc.

It's all free, too — the three of us who started it up are all successful indie authors, and we just wanted a place to share what we've learned and allow others to do the same.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do, and congrats on making it this far in the process!

Tima Maria said...

Hi Rogenna, thanks for the push! Lol! It'll be out in the next 4-6 weeks. I'm just doing some final proofreading and then it's going onto Amazon and Smashwords, Kobo, Sony... Hope you enjoy reading it!

Tima Maria said...

Hi Colin, thanks for the good wishes and the invite. I'll certainly be joining. It's nice to be part of a growing community of indie authors who support and encourage each other. We need it.

Ian Acheson said...

Sounds like you made a very sensible choice.

I too declined my first offer as I wasn't happy with the publisher's commitment, however, besides the fact it reconfirmed my story was publishable, I was introduced to my future publisher via a series of God-guided interactions.

Keep seeking the Lord's guidance... Ian

Tima Maria said...

Hi Ian, thanks for that encouraging comment. I know the Lord is guiding me, so I'll keep going in this direction - toward indie publishing - and see how it goes.

kimber bennett said...

A few bumps in the road there, but congrats to you!

Dionne said...

Good on you Tima! As for the cover: I love it!! You certainly did the right thing. You now have control plus all the profits and you would have had to do most of your promotion yourself anyway. Power to the indies!

Tima Maria said...

Thanks Dionne, you're right there. I would have hated to change the cover, and as long as I'm doing all my own promotion I might as well reap the royalties. It's going to CS on Friday and if there are no holdups, I'm looking forward to pressing the 'Approve' button. Then it's ready to go ebook.

Tima Maria said...

Thanks, Kimber. Sometimes we need the bumps to wake us up!