By the end of this month I’ll be almost publisher free*, and I’ve updated the sidebar listing of my publishers, including the “no longer in business” list. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been aggressively requesting books back rather than “letting them ride” due in large part to recent developments in the publishing industry. There’s also been rumors of additional (continued?) publisher shenanigans, and honestly I’m about reaching the point that unless I know the author I am no longer buying from small presses either.**
I hate that it came to this. When I was first published going with a publisher was your only way to get published. I’m proud to have been published with some of the biggest and best digital-first publishers. And there still are good publishers out there. The one I’m still with, Changeling Press, I heartily recommend, along with others noted in my sidebar listing. There is a place for small publishers and I sincerely hope that they are able to hang in there.
That being said, here’s why I have, for the most part, pulled out.
I do my own covers or know cover designers or use other services for covers, and I’m married to my editor. (Yes, I do pay him for his work just as if he’d edited for one of his freelance clients.) I love to format books (and recently did an episode of Unscrambled Authors talking about formatting) and learning more about it. I’ve just purchased Jutoh. Yes, these are upfront costs, but they’re also one-and-done costs. Once I’ve earned back what I’ve spent the money is mine. I get 100% of the royalties received from the vendors. I’m a Capricorn. I like that.
2. Don’t have to chase statements or payments
I’ll be blunt. Ellora’s Cave’s shenanigans followed closely on the heels of All Romance Ebooks burnt me hard. Like crispy critter, channel my inner Fox Mulder “trust no one” burnt. I’m dealing with a slow pay situation right now that I really am not at a liberty to say, but yet again it’s teaching me not to deal with small presses on any side of the publishing table. I hope they pay up and this was all a “miscommunication”, but honestly I’m also just as prepared to write off the amount as bad debt on my taxes too if necessary. Things are tough right now with my health and needing to care for my mom. I am using all of my energy to chase down mom’s home health people (forget about home aides, that’s me baby! 24/7!) and doctors; I have none left to deal with “professionals” who can’t be bothered to pay on time. Some big publishers have been creeping out those statement dates by a day or two each month now for the last few months, and frankly I’m glad to be done with it all.
3. I’m in control of my destiny.
I would much rather be in control of things right now, especially when I’m getting back into the writing groove (1000 words this morning! YEAH!) and getting back into the publishing world, than have to have the anxiety of a publisher hanging over my head. Because well…see #2.
I guess the bottom line comes from that Rolling Stones song: once bitten, twice shy, baby. Except, in my case, it was about five times bitten, a couple of times by people who I never expected to flake the fuck out. (One of whom has gone on to turn everything into a Wyoming LLC, so no doubt our royalties went into that to hide them, but hey, whatever, right?) So I’m done with publishers.
For those of you who still prefer to use publishers, i wish you all the best and all the luck. Research. Ask questions. For gods’ sake listen to what you’re told and don’t think, “it won’t happen to me.” Be smart. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. And think long and hard about what a publisher really is doing for you. Because in my case, it turned out they were doing much more harm than good, and that’s not a good thing.
*I have a few collections with one publisher whose contracts haven’t run out yet, which right now is the only publisher in this space that I trust implicitly and explicitly. I would recommend them to anyone who writes erotic romance/erotica of a paranormal or science fiction bent.
**Some small presses including a name that if I dropped would probably surprise you are what I call “take anything” presses, where they will take whatever submissions are sent their way. I’ve seen that when I was on the publisher side of the fence quite thoroughly. Compound that with the fact that there’s no guarantee the authors will get the money due to them, well, I’d much rather buy indie since I know the authors will get their money since I’m a Kindle junkie. (Additional note: I read a lot for review as well as am on several street teams, and when you add that to my InstaFreebie habit–which I review–most of the books I buy are nonfiction/research.)