Saturday, September 7, 2019
On Surviving as an Author-Publisher ~ by Cherime MacFarlane
I stumbled into publishing. I had signed with Paper Gold Publishing about two months before the owner found she had to move back to the UK from Ireland. Much to her surprise and the horror of her authors, the rules for doing business had changed in the UK. Her financial advisors gave her two choices, sell or close.
Neither option gave me peace of mind. Close? I’d just taken an entire seven book series down and transferred them to her. I already had to get into a big discussion with Amazon over transferring reviews, I’d removed the other books from publication, now this? Who could she sell to? What would happen then?
It seemed the only option open to me was buy the business. I knew nothing about running a publishing company. Amazing how fast you can learn under fire. Three years later and a few authors lighter, PGP is trundling along.
Never easy, it has been slightly terrifying and never dull. That said, I’ve come to some conclusions about signing with a publisher. First, read the contract. If there is something in it you don’t like but all else looks acceptable, try negotiating. All the other side can do say is no.
Second, do not expect the publisher to take on all the burden while you sit back and reap the rewards. That does not happen these days. Almost every publisher I know expects the author to contribute time to marketing. It is a fact of life in an evolving industry.
Third, times have changed. Be prepared for a long hard slog if you want to become a brand name. There are so many books out there and the retailers, in particular Amazon, are not author friendly unless you are a real big name. It doesn’t matter to them if you have a legitimate issue with them or not. They decide and you or your publisher must put in a great deal of time and energy into trying to change the finding and may lose.
If your publisher is canny, you may find what computer people call a workaround. Then again, there may not be one. Be sure to cut your publisher slack if they can’t make headway with Amazon. Like a boulder in a stream, they aren’t easily moved.
Fourth, know when to try something else. Your publisher is as committed to having your books sell as your are. If they aren’t and be positive this is the case before you try to get out of the contract. Good luck and happy hunting.
Listen to Cherime MacFarlane's podcast here.