Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Why I Sacked My Publisher!



It was ten years ago when I got 'The Call'.  Now those in the publishing world understand that it means you got that exciting information from a publisher that they wish to publish your book!  Many years ago it was more likely to have been a phone call or a letter.  Though nowadays, it's just as likely to be an email or even a text wouldn't surprise me!

Anyhow I'd got 'The email'.  I was so excited.  It was my first novel, the first one I'd ever written 'The End' on.  The first one I'd revised and edited and then followed all the publisher's guidelines and submitted for possible publication.

The publishing world moves at a snail's pace.  My novel entitled, 'It Happened One Summer' had taken around 9 months to complete.  As long as it takes to create a baby.   In fact it was my baby.

I ended up submitting it online to a publisher in the US.  Most of the romance publishers in the world are situated there.  It was a small press but they'd published lots of novels and had a good online presence.  I even knew a couple of authors published there.

However they did insist on a $45.00 set up fee.  Being a small operation it had it's overheads and the person who printed the books was a separate operation.  So I thought, fair enough.  They weren't charging hundreds and even thousands of dollars like the big vanity presses did. 

Fast forward two years.   Yes, a full two years later my book was slated for release and that's not unusual in the publishing world.  I had decided to donate all the proceeds to a charity I was working for and a big book launch was arranged with the mayor, other dignitries and the press.   So, imagine my disappointment when the first batch of books arrived at my door all the way from the good US of A and I opened them to see all was not as it should be.

In fact it my was my son who noticed it first.  He was 14 at the time and he looked inside one of the books and asked, "Mam why have they spelt your name wrong at the top of each page but it's correct on the cover?"  I thought as my son was a bit of a joker, he was teasing me.  But when I looked I could see he was telling the truth.

I checked book upon book and they were all the same.  My surname was Rees on the cover as it should have been but Reese inside.   I immediately contacted the publisher explaining my dilemma this was to be a big charity event at a local castle.  There press would be there for heaven's sake!  I got no satisfaction from the publisher at all.  They were very blas√© about it all.  They didn't even offer a few free copies as a gesture of good will. 

It was the first print run and all they said they'd do was make sure the spelling was correct for the next print run!  I was mortified and had to go to work and explain the situation.  It was decided to go ahead with the launch anyhow as it could take weeks or months to ship more books over from the US.

The launch went very well and all books sold out.  There wasn't even one left for the mayor and some others, so more were ordered.  I kept my fingers crossed that the next batch would be as they should and they were, though they took a lot longer to arrive and there were hundreds of them.  The postman almost broke his back getting the sacks down the steps outside my house.

While this was going on I had a follow up book called, 'Return to Winter' accepted by that publisher, who I shall not name for legal reasons.  There has already been a double page spread about this published in a national magazine.  It was an article I wrote a few years ago and the editor discussed the merits of naming the publisher or not and we both decided against it, just in case it should come back and bite us both on the bum!

There were so many things I wasn't happy about with that publisher, including poor communication, that I asked to pull my book from them and also the second book due for publication, even though I'd signed a contract.   After a lot of bad feeling from them I got them to release me as an author, though they probably could have fought it but it was a small operation it probably wasn't worth the hassle to them.   And maybe I was a thorn in their side as I'd warned other authors about them at their online group.  There were others there too who felt like I did and maybe they were worried we'd join forces.  Several left after I did.

Anyhow I heard of a new publisher in New York who had just set up and I sent both books there which they immediately snapped up.  They were great to work with and they gave me free copies of my books and didn't charge a bean.  I had a good experience with those. 

Of course ten years down the line, I've learned a lot and been published with other publishers since.  I suppose the moral of the tale is, if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.   And even if it does at the time, you can probably do something about it.  The first publisher and the second publisher were like chalk and cheese.  The first was unprofessional but still exists today with mixed reviews about them.  The second has gone on to achieve a good reputation and now has lots of authors on their books.  I was one of the first in their new stable of authors.

For anyone who has written a novel and wishes to send it somewhere I advise you to do your homework and find out as much as you can about that publisher beforehand.  It might just save you a lot of aggro in the end...

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