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Dear authors,

Could you change publishers?

Seriously.

I know it’s selfish of me, but see, here’s the thing.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to read some really cool stuff from some people who, unfortunately, are published with outfits I just… erm… how can I put this?

Well, I wouldn’t give my credit card information to them if they were face to face with me and I knew where they live—let alone over a (badly designed) website with only dog knows what kind of security software. Sorry, nope, not me, not in a million years.

Then there are the publishers with an apparently higher-than-their-share percentage of vocal-and-out-of-control authors who go on ranting all over the place. *coughnotnamingnamescough* Nothing will drive me away from a smaller epub quicker and more decidedly than the crazy.

And see, as selfish and self absorbed as I am—which is plenty, I’m sure—I would love for more people to read your stuff, because it’s really good. And the more people read your stuff, the more likely it is that you’ll keep writing. You win, I win, see?

And, since I know I’m not the only one who balks about forking over hard earned money to specific publishers *coughnotgivingnamesdon’twasteyour timeguessingcough* so, perhaps, branching out to as many other, bigger, better known epublishers as possible would be a good career move?

Pretty please?

With sugar on top?

Yours truly,

Little ole me.

(Eerie: I have had this post written and waiting in my hard drive for a couple of months, wondering whether it was even worth posting. Then I see this (TeddyPig’s comments through the thread) and this at Dear Author. Ergo, posting it)

21 Comments »


  • Rosemary Laurey
    September 29
    12:17 pm

    I’ve changed publishers – or added a new publisher – several times over the years and know lots of other writers who’ve done the same. It’s not unusual.

    Publishers fold, lines get cut, editors move houses, you get a better offer all good reasons to change.

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  • I wish more authors would AztecLady.

    It just makes sense not putting all your eggs in one basket and such. Plus, I think they might be surprised by things like real editors and nice covers and feeling invested in and such.

    The only thing I can think of is that authors get into cult like environments of some of these ePubs that promote insular thinking that they have to remain “loyal”.

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  • As one of the more vocal authors–although I try not to bring the crazy–I would say yes.

    I’ve steadily added publishers over the last 2-3 years. And I quit writing for others.

    My criteria for a publisher has gotten pickier over time. If I’m not seeing a decent return, the house is gone. My standard of a decent return has also risen. If there are consistent problems, likewise.

    But, I’m always willing to branch out. I’ve submitted to three new houses this year, with three more planned soon.

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  • Unfortunately, that cult mindset Teddy mentioned is probably part of the issue. People want to think that nothing bad will happen to them. It’s a lovely theory. Not too practical.

    That ‘nothing bad’ hope probably spurs a huge amount of the messes we see when one publisher is questioned and all of a sudden 2000 people rush to defend some slight (and sometimes, the slights were only imagined).

    People get involved with problematic publishers, employers, whatever, all the time. It happens.

    That ‘family’ line-we’re like a big family is a huge red flag to me. I don’t want to write for a family. Families aren’t driven by a practical business mindset, and a business mindset is what you need in a publisher.

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  • That ‘family’ line-we’re like a big family is a huge red flag to me. I don’t want to write for a family. Families aren’t driven by a practical business mindset, and a business mindset is what you need in a publisher

    THIS! and used in conjunction with that other “My way or the highway” thing.

    I admit I can make mistakes or see something negative in something that might not be a big deal in the overall picture.

    BUT… If I continually hear of “shell games” at an ePub or “a chosen few” hijinks it does not matter to me in the least if I have heard nothing about author money or contract issues. Although they tend to go hand in hand.

    Why? Because simply put,
    How can you trust them when they don’t trust you?

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  • While it’s true an author may be better off with a different publisher, it’s not a given that he or she can automatically publish with a preferred/different house. Not when we’re talking legit publishers instead of self-publishing.

    I’m not saying authors should stick with whomever is “willing” to publish them, though, and I certainly have refrained from purchasing from certain coughcough houses despite the fact I enjoy the work of this or that author.

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  • ME 2
    September 29
    4:45 pm

    Wouldn’t this ONLY apply to authors who write for ePublishers?

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  • Jody, if an author is good and understands the target audience, she can publish with any house she likes.

    Nothing in this life, and especially not in this business, is a given. But if you write a story people want, someone will publish you.

    (and I just realized the word “criteria” is plural and I used a singular verb above. That’s what I get for posting before caffeine.)

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  • Jody, if an author is good and understands the target audience, she can publish with any house she likes.

    That is wholly untrue. Maybe it’s true with epublishing, but it is certainly not true with print. There are many more factors. Books can be fabulous and reach their target audience, but still not reach a wide enough audience to result in the high enough sales numbers to warrant an author being able to pick and choose her publisher. Plus, there’s this little problem called an option clause and multi-book contracts and backlist rights.

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  • I think this need to put eggs in more baskets is true-er of any small press than large press, because larger presses are more stable and less often boycotted.

    We seem to have finally established a norm where it is okay, for the most part, to speak up about publishers that are good and bad. I think we still struggle to grapple with ambiguity–presses that aren’t terrible but aren’t great either.

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  • Sami
    September 29
    8:06 pm

    I circumvent this problem by buying those visa giftcards, works just like a credit card only it’s dead after 25 to 100 dollars. I do wish the authors would spread their work around so I don’t have to go traipsing all over the internet to get my fix though. I like entering info 1 time.

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  • I’d like to spread my work around, but no one else seems to want it.

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  • Okay. Dumb question. Sorry. But rather than go to publishers you don’t like and don’t want to give your credit card info to, why not wait for the book to appear on Fictionwise? Or B&N?

    asks the curious Kindergarten teacher

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  • Easy answer: I didn’t go to the publishers; I got the reading material directly from the authors or through bloggers as giveaways and prizes. Which is why I said that I have been lucky to read it.

    The problem is that I want to read more but… etc etc.

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  • That is wholly untrue. Maybe it’s true with epublishing, but it is certainly not true with print.

    I doubt it’s true anywhere outside of self or vanity publishing, when the author can truly control whether or not she gets published. Epublishers reject a high proportion of manuscripts they receive, just as print publishers do. Some rejected authors go on to do very well elsewhere, which implies epublishers, as print publishers, reject “publishable” material. I agree with Angela that a savvy and talented author can definitely increase her chances of getting published where she wants through determination and market familiarity, but there’s just no guarantee. PUblishing doesn’t work that way.

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  • Another suggestion, AztecLady: Why not write directly to the authors in question and communicate your concerns? Diplomacy shouldn’t be too difficult under the circumstances, considering you admire these people’s fiction. I’d certainly be very touched — and give considerable thought to any issues raised — if a reader took the time to contact me because she/he liked my work but had problems with other, associated aspects of the biz.

    Praising an author surely smooths the path to communication with her or him . . . so I say, go for it! ;-)

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  • K.Z. Would you be surprised if I said that… Authors love talking about publishers and their experiences with publishers… Just not the one they are currently with.

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  • There’s also the fact that if a certain publisher decides they don’tlike your voice. No matter how hard you try you will never get into that publisher no matter how good your writting is.

    I’ve had a story rejected even though the editor loved the story line, adored the characters but didnt like my voice and that story has gone on to receive rave reviews and an RR from a reader.

    Publishing is highly subjective and what one publisher likes, the other may not.

    Aline

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  • That’s been my problem, Aline. Most publishers tend to think my voice is very distant and cool, and don’t like it when they and their readers are used to getting up close and personal. But my voice suits the type of fiction I write, and the setting, and it’s not really something I can change.

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  • [...] and ‘uncivil’ commenters (i.e. me) to be silenced. In an unrelated post, someone else says: Then there are the publishers with an apparently higher-than-their-share percentage of [...]


  • [...] was further led to think about this topic when I read a post on Karen Scott’s blog by Azteclady where she asks if authors can switch publishers, and this caught my attention: “Then there are the [...]


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