Morgan St. James is Visiting Today!
June 4, 2015
If you haven’t met Morgan St. James, in person or electronically, here’s your chance! Not only is Morgan’s “do it!” approach to writing inspirational and energizing, but on a personal level (though she probably doesn’t really know it–oops, guess she will now) Morgan got me rolling, so to speak. Occasionally I’ve been more timid than circumstance warrant, and tiptoeing into the world of book promotions was one of those times. And there was Morgan–who so graciously invited me to panels, and library signings in Vegas.
Morgan continues to lead the way, with talk radio and her Writers Tricks of the Trade Ezine , so I’m very pleased to have her visiting today and talking about moving forward–a lemons to lemonade kind of thing…
So, here’s Morgan!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PUBLISHER GOES OUT OF BUSINESS?
As an author under contract to your publisher, even if they fall into the small publisher category, you expect they will always be there. After all, they have control over your book or books. Unfortunately, as with many expectations, this is not always the case because like any other business, risks are involved and you need to have your work protected if they suddenly cease doing business.
When you sign your contract, check to make sure that if they go out of business or become unable to fulfill their obligation to publish your book, the rights revert to you. First time authors might be so excited about being put under contract, that they don’t want to rock the boat. However, if the unexpected does happen, you will be glad you requested that provision to be inserted in your contract. You should also make sure that the contract is for a specified length of time, and under what conditions it can be broken. While my experience was different, one of my author friends did not have that clause in her contract and when her publisher went out of business she had to fight like a demon, at her own expense, to get the rights to her books back.
In my own experience, I had five books with L&L Dreamspell, a small publisher on the way to becoming a midlist publisher—all three books in the Silver Sisters Mysteries series, plus two other books. I knew that one of the partners was having severe health issues, but I didn’t know she had passed away and the company was in the process of being shut down. One day I went on Amazon to check rankings and discovered that none of my books were available in the Kindle edition. Unable to figure out why, I contacted the publisher and that’s when I found out that somehow the letter advising me that the company was closing and my rights would be given back to me, had gotten waylaid in cyberspace.
The bottom line—I no longer had a publisher for five of my books. I was sad to hear that the partner who was ill had passed away and the other partner could not bring herself to continue to operate the company. To her credit, she gave full rights back to their 200 authors. So now I had five publishable books but no publisher. For the Silver Sisters books, the decision was not mine alone, because I write the series with my sister. We couldn’t figure out how Amazon was still offering new copies of the books, unless they had stock on hand. Although I queried, I didn’t get a satisfactory answer from Amazon, so I never did find out if they had any stock copies. All I knew was that we never saw another royalty check for any of those books, but new copies of thos books were offered on Amazon for nearly the two years we were getting them back into publication.
The publisher had made arrangements for Wild Rose Press to give consideration to any of the books that they had published, and we considered querying Wild Rose about our books, but they were more oriented to romance novels. As far as starting from scratch and shopping around for a new publisher for a series that had already been on the market, it would have been a long and perhaps fruitless road. After much consideration we decided to go the self-publishing route.
Sometimes a boot in the butt is a boost, and that’s what this turned out to be. We took the time to design new covers that we have received many compliments on, renamed one of the books from “Seven Deadly Samovars,” to “Terror in a Teapot,” because we’d discovered few people knew what a samovar was, and, most important, we reviewed each book from cover to cover before republishing it. We made edits to bring them up to date and changed some parts we knew we could have done a better job with. Of course, you never see those “wish I’d written it this way” passages until the book is in publication and it’s head-slap time. “Why,” you ask yourself, “didn’t I think of that?” or “I have a better twist ending.” You know. Things like that. We spotted them and made the edits.
As for the other two shorter books, I realized they really could be one book. Again, taking the time to edit the consolidation of the two books and design a new cover, “Devil’s Dance,” and “The Devil’s Due,” were edited and became the book “Betrayed.” The imprint Marina Publishing Group was set up and we were back in business. You can check out the website at www.marinapublishinggroup.com.
Self-publishing has become much more credible and is undoubtedly a possibility if you wind up in the stressful position of a small or midlist publisher going out of business. But, a word of caution if you decide to take this route. Don’t publish anything that is not top quality. The cover, if redesigned should be compelling and professional, if the book was edited the formatting must be the correct formatting and it should be carefully proofread before publication. You probably did most of your own promotion before and that won’t change. You just might find yourself doing more and controlling the type of promotions you do. Your royalties are higher, and with the right promotion the volume could be the same or better.