Keep in mind that I’m simply asking the question. This is no overt message to my readers or anyone else that I’m leaving traditional publishing. However, lately I’m seeing more and more signals that traditional publishing is becoming even narrower and less author friendly than it ever was before.
Why do I say this? Literary agent Steve Laube recently posted about massive changes at B&H Publishing, home of Brandilyn Collins, Alton Gansky, Robin Carroll, and other fine Christian suspense novelists. What are the changes? One listed item made my stomach drop:
Novels scheduled for release through March/April 2014 will continue as planned. But all novels contracted thereafter have been cancelled. Authors may keep advance monies prepaid and rights to those books will revert, but all future contracted advances will not be paid. (http://stevelaube.com/changes-at-bh-fiction/)
Oh, that’s bad, my friends. Can you imagine slaving away for several years and finally getting a novel contract? Only to find out something like this? That’s worse than bad. That’s demoralizing, folks. Why did this happen? Mr. Laube says,
They [B&H] had quite a few [books] that did very well but no single title or author, unrelated to a movie, climbed the bestseller lists and dominated. And there is the key to the success of a publishing division…at least one barn busting title. It wasn’t an issue of quality, in fact eight of their books were finalists in the Christy Awards. It was an issue of sales volume. [my emphasis]
So it all boils down to money. How sad.
Yes, God is sovereign. Yes, nothing takes Him by surprise. But imagine being one of these authors and finding yourself in this real pickle.
This is just an illustration of the downward trend of Christian publishing, and I know I’m not alone in my concerns. This is not the Christian publishing industry it was of just five short years ago. Publishers are cutting back on their fiction lines, they’re sticking to their bread and butter (authors who bring in guaranteed revenue), and offering fewer open slots for upcoming authors.
In short, finding a publishing home for your novel just got even harder. So what’s the solution? Well-known and established suspense author James Scott Bell had this to say in response:
Deciding to self-publish, for example, and doing so with a plan, is increasingly looking like the “right” decision for many writers. A self-publishing writer will not cancel his own contract, nor will he lose the rights over books he has labored on.
This is true, and it’s why self-publishing—or going the independent publishing route—is becoming more attractive to more and more authors. Granted, self-publishing brings some of its own challenges—namely, marketing. That’s the biggie. But don’t forget about the perks.
It’s even attractive in some ways to me, I confess. I’ve been there and done that. I once sent my second published novel to an acquisitions editor at one publishing house and waited more than eight months for a one-line rejection. Understandably, if you are submitting manuscripts and getting this treatment each time, it’s no wonder some authors are getting fed up with traditional publishing.
I can’t even imagine going through the joy of having a novel accepted, signing a contract, and even getting my first advance check—only to have the rug pulled out from under me. My heart goes out to these poor authors. If I was one of them, I’d probably be tempted to turn my back on the publishing industry for a while.
What about you? Do you think it’s time for authors to take self-publishing more seriously?
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