For the past 22 years I’ve been publishing books the old fashioned way. I write them, I send them to my publisher, I get paid, and the publisher does everything else. Lately, these book sales have been falling.
For the past 2 years, I’ve been publishing some older books whose rights reverted from my publishers back to me, in the new way. I repackage them, put a new cover on them, write my own back cover blurb, upload them, and promote them myself. These book sales have been rising and rising.
There is a new paradigm in publishing. In fact, there’s a new paradigm in the world. The instrument of this change is the Internet, and the gist of what it has done is this: It has brought together the creators of products, with the consumers of those same products, without the need for a middleman. Mega-corporations are no longer needed to bring books, or music, or films, or shows, or jewelry or art or fashion or a million other things to the public. This is the way of the future, I promise you this.
When one little book has to support its author, her agent, the publisher, all the publisher’s employees, CEO and overhead, that book is bearing a very heavy load. Its price has to be high, too high to compete with a similar book that’s only trying to support its author and her comparatively tiny team. I believe that’s why traditional publishing is seeing shrinking sales.
Publishing is undergoing a rapid, radical change. Publishing companies know this, and they are scrambling to adapt. But as I’ve been told by people who work for big publishing, it’s like trying to turn around an ocean liner. It takes time and effort. It’s slow.
I don’t think you can be slow to respond to these changes, though, because by the time you do, there’s a whole new set of them underway. Our industry is evolving too fast for the ocean liners to keep up. Publishing today requires us to be nimble, quick, readily able to change course, do a complete turnaround, zig and zag as needed. Ocean liners aren’t the best vessels for traveling these new waters. Speedboats are just the ticket.
I’ve had excellent results from independently publishing fifteen backlist titles. I’ve changed covers multiple times, I change prices often, I run special promotions and sales on a couple of days notice, I tweak the blurbs if I feel I can do them better. I can pay individual attention to each title, giving it just what it needs to succeed. And it has been working for me. So I just have to take my front list titles off that big ocean liner and put them into my little speedboat. I think I can do a better job with them than big publishing can.
That is not to say that I think this is right decision for everybody. I just think in my case, with my books and my readership and the level I am at, this is the best move. And maybe I’m wrong. Time will tell. But if you don’t go for the gold, you can’t move forward, and the one thing I know for sure is that I’ve gone as far as I can with big publishing. They’ve had the best books of my life. If they couldn’t build me any higher with those, then they’re not likely to ever be able to do any better. And I am always striving to do better.
So I’m taking a shot.
I have a great team lined up behind me. I have two daughters now with successful businesses who are the heart of that team; Jessica, the virtual assistant, ebook formatter and cover designer behind Authors Lifesaver, and Jena, the proofreader, book editor behind Practical Proofing. I had just begun working with photographer Paige Wissenbach, so I won’t have to use stock art for my covers anymore. I have just hired a top notch web designer Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs to create a new web site for Wings in the Night, which I have just decided to bring back. I have a fabulous street team headed up by the phenomenal Michelle Leah Olson of Literal Addiction. I’m calling my company Thunderfoot Publishing, and right now, I’ll only be publishing my own work through it. Though it might end up being a family business down the line. We’ll see how it goes.
I still have two more Brown & De Luca novels coming out from MIRA this fall. But these will be my final two books for them.
Meanwhile, I plan to begin a whole new phase of Wings in the Night I’m calling WINGS IN THE NIGHT: REBORN Book 1 will be released in October. Title is still being brainstormed. The big question, do I continue using the word “twilight” in each book as I’ve done with all but three of them since 1993? Or do we go a whole new route? (I’ll take any input you have on that question, btw.)
So buckle up. We’re about to blast off on a whole new adventure. Life is good, isn’t it?