Thursday, March 27, 2008
In case you missed it, here's part 1. I'm posting part 2 tonight, because tomorrow is my MA exams, and I don't think I'll be online at all.
So, you've been accepted by an e-pub, and you've gone through the process of editing. You've looked over your galleys. You've got your promotion in place. You've braced yourself for the reviews. You've told all your friends. What comes next?
I always find the day of the release pretty anti-climatic. Make a few posts about it, update the webpage, and then what?
Oh right, and then you get back to work. Once you're in with a good publisher, you want to sustain that relationship. The best way to promote your title and to sustain that relationship is start a new book. I'm very suspicious of authors who seem to spend more time focused on promo than they do writing. I would say I'm suspicious of authors who spend more time playing around online than writing, but well, I do that. So as soon as you get one book released in the world, you get to work on the next one.
Some publishers have a first refusal clause in their contract. Others don't. Make sure you understand your contract. Remember the long paragraph(s) I wrote about open communication with your publisher? That's pretty important when you're signing a contract. If there's anything you don't understand or don't like, speak to your editor about it. Most contracts are negotiable, too. So if there's a clause you simply will not agree to, then you should definitely negotiate.
Some publishers will accept submissions "on spec." This means they'll contract based on a synopsis and the first few chapters. Some publishers will not. I've honestly never sold a book "on spec." I only submit completely finished manuscripts. I feel like that's the best way to prove I'm not a flake. Because I'm a horrible flake, but I don't want my publishers to know that. Either way, be sure to ask your editor about the submission process for already contracted authors. It'll probably be slightly different from when you were a new author to the e-pub. Whatever your editor tells you, follow it. I wish I could say some hard and fast rules, but honestly, it's different with each of my e-pubs, and it's never a good idea to assume. Generally, however, e-publishers want to keep good authors producing good work on a fairly regular basis, so they'll make the process easy for you.
Also, I've never had my submissions rejected based on previous sales. And here's the thing, ladies and gents--you might get some seriously disappointing sales figures. I wish I could tell you why. I have some general guidelines I follow. I will only submit contemporary het romance to one e-pub, and if it's not an idea I think they'll buy, then I won't write it at all. Yep, I just admitted to "compromising my art" for the bottom line. Hey, this isn't a hobby for me, and I'm not going to pretend I'm not interested in sales. On the flip side of that, I've never, ever written a story designed to sell a crapload of copies, though it would be easy to do. It'd just be hell to write, and when I don't want to write something, it shows. I'd be embarrassed by the very poor quality. There's one publisher I will only submit gay romances to these days. The het titles I have with them just sold much, much too poorly. I'm talking a mere fraction of what my gay titles sold.
My point is, if you get disappointing sales figures on your first time out, it's not the end of the world. I'm not saying it won't hurt. It'll probably sting quite a bit. But that just means you need to figure out A)what market you're targeting and B)what market your publisher is targeting. Then figure out away to mesh the two goals together. But poor sales figures isn't a sign that you suck. Our first Jamie Craig title Unclose Me hasn't even sold 100 copies yet. Master of Obsidian was released the same weekand has sold close to 1000 copies to date.
Now, it is very possible that your editor could reject your next book. That doesn't mean you suck. It doesn't mean your editor hates you. It means that your editor thought your book didn't fit their needs at that time. But that's fine. Now you've had some experience under your belt, you can start targeting other reputable e-publishers and expand your horizons a little bit.