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View Full Version : I just need some career advice



on_the_verge
05-07-2006, 10:37 PM
I've had two collections of short stories published on a small indie press which were somewhat successful for what they were.

I have a novel written (I'm still waiting to get it back from some copy-editor weeks after it was promised), and I'm pretty sure I can get it published on a high profile indie press. My question is, do I go this no-money route and hope it leads to a major book deal down the road, or do I pass to hold out for an agent and major publisher?

Furthermore, if I go the indie route can I refuse them international rights, then make money by hiring an agent to bring the book out on a major in Europe?

Also, I've heard of authors getting a book published on an indie, then a few years later getting the same book published on a major. Is this do-able?

None of this is definite, but I just need to choose a path and go with it.
Any advice?

Cathy C
05-07-2006, 11:17 PM
Any advice?

Always! Lots of it (but don't hold that against me... ;) )


I've had two collections of short stories published on a small indie press which were somewhat successful for what they were.


Okay. Cool.


I have a novel written (I'm still waiting to get it back from some copy-editor weeks after it was promised), and I'm pretty sure I can get it published on a high profile indie press. My question is, do I go this no-money route and hope it leads to a major book deal down the road, or do I pass to hold out for an agent and major publisher?


How would it lead to a major book deal? :Huh: Let's be realistic here. Yes, there are the cases of small press or self-pub going to the big time--getting picked up by a major house. But they're the EXCEPTIONS and there are durned few of them. But they keep getting mentioned over and over as if by sheer repetition, they'll increase in number. Eragon (YA), The Christmas Box (YA), Going for It (Romance), and a few others. (Let's not bring up Twain, Alcott or anyone not pubbed in the past 50 years.) Yes, it happens. It CAN happen, but each of these people put in long hours of hard work, money out of pocket for major road trips to tout the books, copious amounts of time in marketing and traveling. Most authors flat can't DO that and still pay the mortgage. And WHY did they get picked up by a major house? That's the real question. It was because there was still a bigger market that hadn't found the book yet, despite the efforts of the author. First, are you writing in a genre where that is a possibility? Children's, YA and Romance are the biggies that might make this possible. Horror? Westerns? Fantasy? Not so much.

Then, let's look at it from the major publisher's point of view. Let's say you hand-sell 500-1,000 books. Is that good or bad? Bad. From the publisher's POV, you've saturated the market and it's quite possible the 1,000 sales under the imprint of the Indie Press are all it will EVER have. Why would they throw away the money to pay an editor to edit, and an artist to make a cover for what is essentially the same book available to the public when they see it?

Now, what if you sell 5,000-30,000? That's GREAT as far as a small press book. It's "okay" from a major pub POV. It's possibly worth taking a risk on to see if better marketing and distribution can increase on that. But do you have the time and ability to hand-sell 5,000 copies? Few do. It's pretty much a full time job.


Furthermore, if I go the indie route can I refuse them international rights, then make money by hiring an agent to bring the book out on a major in Europe?


:Shrug: Sure, but why would you want to? An agent will only be able to help if the book is doing well enough in America to warrant a foreign translation. A lot of mid-list sellers (10,000-250,000 copies) never make that leap. But the publisher (if it's a good one) might have a better "in" than your agent, and a lot of agents wouldn't consider taking on a book ONLY for the foreign rights, when they get no slice of the pie on the first rights.


Also, I've heard of authors getting a book published on an indie, then a few years later getting the same book published on a major. Is this do-able?


See above.


None of this is definite, but I just need to choose a path and go with it.


True. I have nothing against small presses for niche books or markets. But they often don't have the distribution or clout to get the books to the majority of readers for popular fiction. You (meaning you, hoping to get the most money possible for your book) will do better overall. Good luck! :)

Yeshanu
05-08-2006, 12:58 AM
Cathy's given you a pretty good run-down, but I can paraphrase the words of our own James D. MacDonald here: if it's got the potential to be a successful book, a reputable publisher will buy it.

I wouldn't go the indie route on a novel until the more conventional routes have been exhausted.

A novel isn't like a short story collection--novels are much easier to sell to conventional publishers. So I'd recommend that you try that first, as well as querying agents to represent the novel.

Gillhoughly
05-13-2006, 06:38 PM
My question is, do I go this no-money route and hope it leads to a major book deal down the road, or do I pass to hold out for an agent and major publisher?

ALWAYS start at the top first, then work your way down. I futzted around with a few small presses with my first book and finally figured it was wasting my time. They just didn't have the resources to push my career in the direction I wanted.


Also, I've heard of authors getting a book published on an indie, then a few years later getting the same book published on a major. Is this do-able?

Certainly. When your book's rights revert to you, you can do anything you like with it.

Yes, the larger houses may not be interested in a reprint, but you can always do a rewrite (and let them know) and write another book (if it's a series).


Any advice?

Get an agent and let her do the selling while YOU get back to writing. Kick out 3-4 books a year. Just plain WRITE.

Writing 3-4 novels a year is also do-able. One of my buds has written FIVE novels in the last 12 months (and dang GOOD ones) and our mutual agent sold them and got contracts for more.

My bud not only holds a full-time job, but last summer fought off a scary bout of breast cancer. You can figure I don't cut myself any slack for not writing with that kind of an example to follow! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif