Strategizing

by Ashlynmathews on May 1, 2013

Since changing my focus and direction from traditional publication to self-publishing my future works, I’ve had time to experiment and think. I’ve written a prequel novella for my debut novel, Shadow Watcher.  I’ve written another novella with the intent to publish under a different pen name. I’ve also attempted to breathe life into one of my five or so versions of Shadow Watcher.

After doing the above, I realize I need to narrow my attention to what is important for a new author—branding. What better way to brand myself than to concentrate on the books I currently have out there. Branding then translates to more books in my series—If Only (contemporary- Willowbrook series), Shadow Watcher (paranormal-Shadow Watcher series) and My Fallen (paranormal-Demon Knight series).

Lately, I’ve been reading series—Darkest London, Parasol Protectorate, Alpha and Omega, Guild Hunter and Guardian Series. I like series because I understand and love the world built by the author. I’m also invested in the characters.

I thought my decision to leave the Shadow Watcher world would give me creative freedom to explore other story ideas. However, my muse isn’t ready. I have at least three books churning in my mind. There’s Silver and Malice, Echo UnMarked and of course, Cage Steele needs his own book too.

Which brings me to the title of this post—strategizing. I want to release Reclaimed, the prequel to Shadow Watcher. Yet come September, I might have the opportunity to get my rights back to Shadow Watcher from my publisher. I’d also be done with writing Silver and Malice by fall to release in November or December.

So, should I wait? Or should I publish Reclaimed? If I publish Reclaimed, the novella could bump my sales of Shadow Watcher, therefore I might lose the chance to get Shadow Watcher back. I like Shadow Watcher, but I’d make some changes and extend the story close to its 300 page original.

Thoughts?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maggie Jaimeson May 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

My opinion is that you should proceed with the novella prequel, Reclaimed, whether you think it will impact rights reversion or not. Here’s my reasoning.

If your rights reversion is time bound, (i.e., you can request rights reversion after x years of being available by the publisher) it doesn’t matter whether your novella bumps sales of the publisher’s book. You will eventually get your rights back no matter what, as long as you follow the timing detailed in the contract. So what if the publisher makes a few dollars on your efforts. Don’t let the publisher continue to dictate your future career because of one or two books.

If your rights reversion is bound by a lack of sales, (i.e., when the book drops below x units sold over a period of x months/years) then I would prepare yourself for accepting you may never get your rights back. It’s not a good idea to put your career on hold while waiting for a book not to sell.

There are all kinds of things publishers can do (and will do) to keep books available and selling enough not to have to revert rights. They can lower prices. They can put them on special, even free for awhile to bump sales again. Check your contract. I’ll bet you have no right of refusing price changes. Publishers can also purchase x copies themselves and pay your royalty on those copies. (I know print publishers who have done this to authors in order not to revert rights) I don’t know if this is true for Crimson Romance, but most publishers (print and epubs) are holding on to rights as much as possible because they don’t know where the market is going or when an author will hit and the backlist will begin selling again. It costs them little to keep an epub viable and they are looking to maximize the number of books in their catalog that may push them forward. Though to you selling one or two copies a month seems like nothing, to an epublisher with hundreds of books in their catalog each selling one or two copies a month becomes a good income generator.

Concentrate on building sales and readership for everything you are writing. Don’t worry about the books that are traditionally published. If you have an opportunity to get rights back, without stopping your forward momentum , certainly take advantage of it. Otherwise, think of it like a marriage that has ended–not necessarily bad but incompatible.

That relationship is in the past. You learned what you wanted and didn’t want–what control you were willing to give to others . There was a price for those lessons. That’s something good to know for the future. Now move on. Don’t let that past relationship define you or stop you from moving forward.

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Ashlynmathews May 1, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Great advice, Maggie. Believe me, I’ve been wrestling with this decision for a while now. And I love your marriage analogy. I guess I can “tolerate” being a hybrid author. That’s why the present and possibly the future is a great time to be a writer. The options are endless and the path many. Thank you!

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