Peeps of Awesome: Wow, what a week! I got a nicely remunerative writing assignment that will allow me to just work on the novel and very little else (other than tending to the needs of the Spousal Unit and Cat Assemblies, of course) for the next two weeks or so. So I put Dead Man’s Hand aside for the week and jumped on this shiznatch with both feet.
Just like at Vladimir Putin’s Chechen Orphanage & Academy of Land Mine Testing.
But what I want to talk about is a necessity that I hadn’t considered when I signed the ginormous contract with Permuted Press. That need was to “unpublish” my other novels and the short story collection I had done through CreateSpace and which were for sale at Amazon, B&N.com, Powells, and all over the digital electronic e-tailing virtual cybernetic world. (Also at your finer chai-and-book stalls all over India.) As of signing the contract, I had four books for sale on Amazon and had a few more in various stages of coming down the pike for publication by Yours Truly, distribution by CreateSpace, and sale by the aforementioned websites and chai stands:
- Deadtown Abbey, the book which was picked up by Permuted first;
- Ain’t That America (2d. Edition), which corrected many flaws in the first self-pub I ever did, way back in 2000;
- Inappropriate Behavior, my collection of short stories both reviled and admired (sometimes for the same story);
- Darwin’s Dreams, my loverly literary novel.
I’m not saying that having these up for sale was bringing me untold riches. No, the riches were extremely … um … told? (Never mind. Moving on.) I made about $25 per month on royalties for these books, money that was welcome, of course, but unlikely to keep me in the indoors-living lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.
But since Permuted is contracting with me not just for Deadtown but for nine more books, I have to think about the economics of publishing in a different way from when I was just selling my books myself for direct royalties or even just the cover price of the book if I had it “in stock” at chez Hoade. I have to consider more than the immediate royalties I get from selling a few books per month. For the first time in my long and storied (narf) writing career, I have to think about things as an author being published by a publisher, someone outside of my solipsistic bubble who is paying for the right to sell my work.
Because Permuted has brought me on board for these books, I must think of the reception—meaning sales—that each released book might have on how my publisher puts out and promotes the next book in the pipeline. Right now I’m working on three different three-book series (I hesitate to call them “trilogies” because maybe more books will come and I don’t want to do a Surf II on the marketing materials.)
Nothing like putting the punchline before the setup, Surf II poster-maker.
I’m writing these like Book 1 of Series 1, Book 1 of Series 2, Book 1 of Series 3, Book 2 of Series 1, Book 2 of Series 2, and so on. (The final book on the contract is a standalone novel.) But for this discussion, let’s put aside that they are different series and just treat them like all independently standing books—if you must think of them by the serieseses, then this argument works for within each series, okay, smarty-butt? All right, moving on.
I am contracted to receive X dollars upon the publication of each book as an advance. Even if Book 1 sells a million copies, I am still bound to receive X and only X as an advance for the rest of the books on the contract as well. (This causes me no tsuris since an advance has to be earned out before more royalties come anyway, so it just means that my huge wad of cash would be a few months delayed.) However, the reality—and believe me, I am no fan of reality—is that Deadtown Abbey is probably unlikely to sell a million copies.
That said, however many copies it sells will have an effect on how Permuted Press treats the next book of mine when it comes to getting it into bookstores and promoting it. Let’s say that Deadtown (Book 1) sells very well, however Permuted might define that. Then they are likely to put more into the printing size and promotion of Book 2 than they would have if Book 1 sold poorly. Then, if Book 2 sells well because of this greater distribution and promotion (which itself was because of the sales for Book 1), then they are likely to put even more into Book 3, and so on. It’s the law of increasing returns—positive feedback, if you will.
I believe the appropriate German term here is Shittenzepantz.
So what does this have to do with taking my self-published books off of Amazon et al? Well, other than the fact that I have to take Deadtown out of the sales channel because I have sold the rights to it, I also want to take my other work off of there because I don’t want to those books to cannibalize sales from the Permuted-published version. I want every book sale to go toward making the first book from Permuted Press a big seller for them so that I can get onto that wonderful positive feedback loop and create bigger distribution and marketing for Book 2, then Book 3, and on until Book 10, at which time I will negotiate a new contract for the next book(s), the amount of which based on the ever-increasing numbers for each book of mine that Permuted puts out.
That may explain why I would take down Deadtown Abbey, but why the other books, you might ask? (At least, I hope you’re asking that or else this is more a waste of time for you than usual.) It’s about branding, which, yes, is a kind of douchey MBA word like synergy or incentivize but is also very important when what you’re marketing is, in essence, yourself.
This cat knows what I’m talkin ’bout.
In other words, I want to support this publishing venture in every way possible. I want people to think of the books they see coming out from Permuted as the books they should buy and/or read if they want the Sean Hoade experience. (That or poke themselves in the eye with a fork dipped in hot sauce. Either one works.) I don’t want buyers to look me up and see a comic thriller (Ain’t That America) or a literary-historical novel (Darwin’s Dreams) when they finish with whatever Hoade/Permuted book they just read and loved. It’s confusing to the market and makes the writer seem less committed to the genre in which s/he is formally published than s/he would with just the contracted books out there.
This is why famous-type authors from Anne Rice to Stephen King to Eloisa James sometimes use pseudonyms—they want their real-name work to be within a certain set of parameters, but they also want to write this other kind of book that might not seem like an Anne Rice or Eloisa James book. (King is so versatile and famous that he just publishes whatever he feels like under his real name. But I am not Stephen King. OR AM I?!?)
Yeah, he freakin’ wishes.
So maybe sometime I will place those other novels with a different publisher, but for now I am removing them from Amazon and its friends. This is how committed I am to making this full-time noveling thing a go. Also, time to start writing again!