On my decision to self-publish…
If you pay attention to book publishing news and blogs, then you probably already know I’ve decided to try my hand at self-publishing by re-writing and releasing a NEW version of my book The Bitch.
Little did I know when I gave an interview to Galleycat in February that the press would pick up the story so quickly! To date, from that one interview, there have been over 120,000 stories and articles posted online about that one decision.
As you might imagine, the buzz has set off a bit of a firestorm of comments, gossip, conspiracy theories and the like about my publishers and me.
- “Did she get in a fight with her publishers?”
- “Did they drop her from their roster?”
- “Is she dropping them from her roster?”
- “Does this mean publishing is dead?”
So I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight.
First, I have fantastic relationships with my two publishers, Simon & Schuster UK and St. Martin’s Press US. No juicy story about a tiff or spat between us—we’re good. I’m currently writing my 29th book “The Power Trip,” and it will be published by both companies, respectively.
But times are changing, and technology is changing, so I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self-publishing.
Of course the industry is changing – it ALWAYS is
I’ve been a published author for many years, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with several great publishers, and I’ve seen MANY changes in the publishing industry.
From new printing techniques, to new advertising mediums, to direct-to-fan digital publishing, the industry has always been evolving. And it will continue to do so.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding the best way to get your content (Hollywood and relationship fiction in my case) into the hands of your fans who are clamoring for it.
My thoughts on eBooks
Let me say up front that I will personally always love physical books. I love how a new book feels in your hands. I love turning the pages one-by-one as you curl up in a chair and engross yourself in the story.
But I also know that to stay successful, you’ve always got to be thinking two steps ahead of the game. And by all counts, the book industry is going the way of the CD industry. Almost nobody buys CDs anymore; we get our music fix on iTunes.
And more and more people are opting for eBooks over paper. For example, with Goddess of Vengeance, I think we sold an equal amount of hard covers and eBooks.
And in England, they just bought the digital rights to all my books and Lethal Seduction immediately jumped to #2 on the bestseller’s list. That’s a book that’s 10-years-old! I was quite impressed with that.
Always ask questions about the numbers
I’ve always been involved in the business side of my career. Even in the very beginning, I realized I had to double-check the things my publishers were doing. (After all, no one cares more about your career than you do.)
When it came to advertising, I remember hounding them about what they were going to do for me once the book finally came out. What promotions are they buying? How long is the ad campaign? Is there a co-ops and author tour involved?
Most first-time writers when they finally get their book published, throw a big party, and then scratch their head in bewilderment when they can’t find their book in the bookstore.
So they go to the clerk and say, “Oh, my book’s on the back shelf? Can you get it on the front table?”
They don’t realize that their publisher hasn’t paid for the front table display.
So, there’s a lot to learn, and I’ve learned much of it over the years, but I’m still learning. There are still things that I don’t know that I find out with each new book.
Be prepared to fight for what you want
Publishers are in the publishing business to make money (and that’s a good thing). But remember that their goal is NOT to make your dreams of being an author come true. Their goal is to make money through the careful and thoughtful exploitation of your book.
So, you have to fight for what you want. (Even I do.)
If you want a full-page ad in People magazine, you have to get it in your contract; otherwise it’s not going to happen, and you’ll hear things like, “it costs too much.”
If I were starting again…
If I were starting out in the business today, I don’t think I would change anything. But, I was extremely lucky because my first book, “The World is Full of Married Men,” was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to, and became an instant bestseller.
There’s no substitute for hustle
I was thrown out of school for poor grades and playing truant, although I always came in top in writing class. Everybody told me I couldn’t be a writer unless I studied more and went to college.
I said, “No way, I’m following my dream. Writing is my passion.”
Turns out, people don’t buy books because you went to college. They buy books for the characters and the story. (And dammit, I can tell a great story!)
Looking back, being stubborn and tenacious and constantly asking questions has worked out OK for me.
If you believe your stuff is great, then don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough. Pick yourself up and make some more calls. Network with as many people as you can in the industry. And sweat. Sweat a lot. And keep writing!
Also remember, when it’s time to publish, you’ve got options.
Follow your dream. I always say, “Girls can do anything.” (And so can boys, for that matter.) Put your mind to it; follow your dream, and keep learning and growing. Don’t stagnate. And most of all – love what you do! Writing is a joy – enjoy it!