Notes from the previous posts: when I said that you, as readers, have to decide what you buy, I meant that you have to decide it for yourself for each author. 🙂 This wasn’t necessarily a criticism of series model or any particular author. It was a hypothetical in response to a reader’s question. Some of you also became concerned about our income, which was very sweet, and mentioned paid sites such as Patreon.
Gordon’s and my stance on Patreon is the same as our stance on Kickstarter. We don’t mind when other people do it, but it’s not for us. Patreon and Kickstarter make sense for high budget projects like video games, where production can take years, and clubs like Action Figure Therapy, where the main content is hilarious NSFW videos. Books don’t require a large starting budget. It’s a very simple arrangement: we write a book, then we sell it to the publisher or we sell it ourselves, and if people like it, they will buy it and we’ll make money. If we didn’t make enough money from our books, we would get jobs. We both worked full time jobs while writing before. In fact, everything up to Magic Bleeds and On the Edge was written while I was a legal secretary and Gordon, who at one point got downsized during the recession, even worked the night shift at a tire retreading plant. You do what you have to do to put food on the table.
Another danger of Patreon, for us personally, is that producing content for a book or for the blog is essentially the same. It’s sitting in front of the computer, thinking, and writing those thoughts down. If we did Patreon, you would get less fiction, not more. Our model of giving away extras seems to be working in our favor so far, which reminds me, Gordon is working on Rogan’s POV, so hopefully something can be posted in the next few days. If it stops working, we’ll change our strategy and do something else.
On to more questions:
I have a weird question. I’ve had two books accepted by two different publisher’s and am looking to keep going. However, one of the two publisher’s has closed their general admissions and I was thinking about submitting a work to a third publisher.
So my question is this. Particularly when first starting out, how thinly should one spread oneself when submitting manuscripts to general/open submission calls and such? Is it better to limit yourself to one or two, or is it acceptable to fish about? Is there some sort of unwritten etiquette about this? Or is it just foolish to potentially spread yourself out to much?
I suppose that’s several questions. But it’s the same general idea. . .
This is a complicated question and I don’t have all the information, so I will try to break this down as much as I can.
Length of books
- If the length of the works in question is under 25-30K, multiple submissions are common and are expected unless the publication wants exclusive. If they do, I would be wary. A story can sit in the queue of a magazine for over a year.
- If the length of the books are 40K and above, see section on Publishers.
- If publishers are electronic with no or very small advance, multiple submissions are acceptable and expected unless prohibited by publisher’s guidelines. While your manuscript is sitting in the queue, you’re not getting paid. If they ask for exclusivity, they better have a fast turn around time.
- If the publishers are traditional, get an agent. It’s too complicated and involved to navigate this yourself. Overall, if you’re beginning to sell on consistent basis, getting an agent is a very good idea. Yes, I know they take 15%, but we’ve earned a great deal more money thanks to our agent and it more than makes up for her fee. I’m not an agent, so take my advice with a grain of salt.
Advice nobody asked for.
You’re proven that you can sell. Now is probably the time to sit down and evaluate your career path. Again, this is something a good agent will help with, but I’ll stop harping about it. Do you want to have a career or is this more of a fun hobby that earns some extra cash? If you are aiming for a career, what do you want to be known for? What do you see as your signature series/world/character? You’ve mentioned two different publishers. Did one of these books do better than the other? Are you interested in building on that book? Did they ask for a sequel?
The problem with shotgun approach is two fold. First, you lose the branding. Let’s take Author A. Author A writes a hot motorcycle romance, because it’s the trend. It does okay, but she jumps ship to steampunk, then to romantic suspense, then to vampire romance. All books do okay, but because the author doesn’t stick to anything and doesn’t build her brand, she has no name recognition. It takes time and effort to build an audience. Author A has a large body of work but isn’t a recognizable name in any of the genres because she doesn’t concentrate. Branding is very important, because it helps to steer a receptive audience to your books.
Second, you lose the opportunity to build a relationship with the publisher. People talk about publisher loyalty. Let me bust that myth right now with a big ol’ hammer: if you stop selling, it doesn’t matter how many years you were with them, they will drop you like a hot potato. When I talk about a relationship, I’m talking about having a proven sales record. Suppose I write a Book for Publisher A. The book sells okay. I pitch them Book 2, they take a chance, and Book 2 also sells okay. Now they have a franchise. They can evaluate that franchise and decide if they will push it. They also have the data from the first two books that tells them to what segment of the audience they would like to appeal, which areas of the country had better sales, which retailers had more success, and so on. They may offer a higher advance for Book 3, because they think they can build the franchise.
It must be said that this is the way things are supposed to work. Sometimes everything breaks down and they toss the book out there with no support. But in the idea, theoretical, this-is-how-it-is-supposed-to-work situation, a publisher wants to retain a promising author and they do it by offering incentives. Unfortunately, with some smaller electronic publishers, they don’t really care. There are legitimate e-only publishers, like Avon Impulse, but there are a lot of smaller places that grab whatever they can get, throw it out there with minimal investment, and take a cut of the profits. Faced with the choice of one of those publishers or self-publishing, I would suggest self-publishing, because you would get to keep 70% of your money vs 30%.
You have two books and are now on your third. I recommend standing back and evaluating your options. If you want to turn this into a career, I would suggest that you pick something you want to work on for the next couple of years and try to find it a home where it will be well taken care of. If you are happy doing what you are doing now, carry on and have fun.