Dark clouds over heaven?

Reminder: for those of you who missed it last week, there’s a poll I’d really like you to take part. The target group is published authors (self-published, trad-published, and hybrid), so if you have writer friends who wouldn’t mind spending a few minutes answering a couple of questions, please let them know about it.

I was going over some of the results from last week, even though it’s still too early to jump to any conclusions, but the first thing that struck me was the small number of traditionally published authors that answered the poll. Which got me thinking.

I searched a bit online about the reasons why a writer would choose a path outside that of traditional publishing, or if there’s something else wrong with it, particularly if there was anything off-putting outside it being hard to get noticed by publishers and agents. I was looking for something outside what most people have heard about. I thought it would be a wild goose chase. I thought it should be bright sunshine over heaven.

And then I stumbled on this article.

Now, I have no knowledge of the intricacies of contracts in general (let alone publishing contracts), but I’ve been following Susan Spann’s tweets about such things, particularly everything she tweets or writes about rights as often as I can (which admittedly is not as often as I should), and I must say that what this article describes was something I had a hard time accepting. No, not because it was far-fetched or false (apparently, it’s VERY real), but because I honestly (and gullibly, I guess) believed that every traditional publisher would shy away from. At least when it comes to payment. I was under the impression that a publishing contract is more often than not a struggle about who gets what rights, and any problems about payment would stem from that. Perhaps it’s just me and my limited knowledge of the industry. If so, mea culpa.

I don’t know if what Michael Kozlowski describes is a one-of incident or the norm. I have yet to land a contract. You’ll need an agent’s or a publisher’s opinion on that. I really hope it’s the former. I mean, you’d think that with all the pressure Amazon is putting on traditional publishing in general, traditional publishers would be more protective and respectful to their authors. Perhaps what Mr Kozlowski describes only happens to dubious and small houses. If that’s the case, then maybe not all is lost for traditional publishing. But what if it’s the norm? Has any of these publishers considered what would happen to their businesses if all the writers chose not to partner with them?

It’s things like that, that make me want an agent in my corner before I go anywhere near a contract.

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2 Responses to Dark clouds over heaven?

  1. I am surprised how often publishers engage with authors without an agent. But they do and it’s a valid Query approach. About 25% of the interest I’ve gotten in my novels have been from publishers rather than agents.

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  2. So, without trying to be nosy or asking for specifics, have you experienced something similar to what that article mentions, or have you heard of anyone who has? Do you think what Mr Kozlowski describes happens often or is something that may happen to writers who engage in talks without an agent? Because I too have been approached by indie publishers (I’m not agented, btw) to submit my work to them, but it’s things like that and the way contracts are worded, that make me feel rather intimidated.

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