Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Well, a lot of hopes and hard work went down the drain when new-paradigm publisher Booktrope announced that it's going out of business. Fortunately, they reverted all rights to their books to the original authors, who are expected to make agreements with the people who contributed to the book and its promotion in some way.
I published two books with Booktrope: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR and COME SIT BY ME. These were YA novels that I couldn't get a conventional publisher or an agent interested in. Now that I have the rights, I'm going to bring them out myself on Create Space.
The editors and proofreaders I chose from Booktrope's membership seemed to do a fine job. The cover artist who did both books (Yosbe Calme) was absolutely outstanding. Unfortunately, I found that Booktrope's weak link was promotion. It's just very hard to find somebody who has the right contacts in the world of promotion. Those who have such contacts are already working for the major publishers--and as I've discovered, even if you publish with one of those publishers, your book doesn't always get a major promotional effort. Case in point: the Samurai Detective series written by Dorothy and me. Even though the first book got an Edgar nomination, it was never pushed by the publisher, and when the third book actually won the Edgar, we still couldn't get on the publisher's A-list. None of the books were ever reviewed by Publisher's Weekly, and so when IN DARKNESS, DEATH won the YA Edgar, Publisher's Weekly didn't bother to print it on the list of that year's Edgar winners. Once a non-book, always a non-book. If the publisher tells PW that it is pushing a book, that book gets reviewed.
One reason for the publisher's indifference (which turned into outright hostility) to our books was that our advance was so low. This is a sign that your book is just a list-filler, and the publisher hopes maybe there will be enough library sales to make back the advance. Ironically, in the same year that IN DARKNESS, DEATH came out, our publisher paid half a million $$$ to an English author who had written a book heralded as "the Christian Harry Potter." It was a huge flop, despite the fact that the author got on the Today show and major advertising. The reason: well, as the reviewer for the Washington Post Book World pointed out, the author couldn't write, couldn't plot, couldn't create characters. Unfortunately, in the very same review, the reviewer contrasted it with our book, which he found superior in all respects despite not being accompanied by glossy brochures, TV author appearances, etc. Well, the publisher couldn't admit his lack of editorial judgment in paying so much for the flopper and so little for a superior book, so the publisher did everything in his power to keep our book from selling. One more sad publishing story.
As is the item I began this blog with: the end of Booktrope, where authors really took control. RIP