Monday, August 20, 2012

Do the Big 6 Want to Make Money on Their Backlists, or just F... with the Authors?

First off, I want to thank everyone for their condolences and thoughtfulness in regards to my Dad's passing. It has been difficult, but your kindness has helped ease some of the pain.

The positive is that I am back writing--and writing a ton! My Dad taught me work ethic and to reach for your dreams. I am also coming out punching a bit these days. He taught me tat fighter spirit as well.

I have on occasion expressed my dismay with the Big 6, but I have typically tried to be as diplomatic as possible. I am done being a diplomat.

Here is where I am at. I started out in publishing with THE WINE LOVER'S MYSTERIES. MURDER UNCORKED was my first book and it did quite well. It wound up with 9 printings, some foreign rights sales, etc. Now, you can't find the book anywhere in print, or the second book in that series MURDER BY THE GLASS. They are officially out of print and have been for over a year! And, for a year now, I have requested reversion of rights. I receive e-mails from readers asking me where they can buy the books on a regular basis. Not everyone has an e-reader. I was offered to buy the books back at a 35% reduction off of list price when they took the books of print. That is standard.

I've asked nicely. I've been a good author. Now, I am pissed. The responses I get basically tell me that the process takes 2-3 months (mind you I have been asking for a year with no response), but they can take up to 6 months to respond. The e-mail intimated they would be taking the full 6 months.

This makes no sense to me. I have had books make it into top 10 bestseller lists on amazon, Wall Street Journal, etc. I know this series is one readers enjoy and want to read more of. The publisher would still own the rights to 4 of the other books in the series. Wouldn't it make good business sense for them to give me back my rights, allow me to publish indie and do what I know how to do to get books into the hands of readers? In turn, the 4 books they own rights to would start selling again. It would be a win/win. They don't do anything to sell the books. They've moved onto the next thing. If these guys would pull their heads out they could start making some money on the back list they own and stop seeing tried and true authors go indie, or sign with Amazon (which I have recently done and am very, very happy because THEY GET IT). Amazon gets it!

I think this is a game with the Big 6. They clearly don't care about making money on the extensive back list they own. They seem to enjoy keeping writers hostage. Come on! Get smart! You're going to need cash flow, Big 6, for all of the huge advances being plunked down for  the successful indie authors that are being cherry picked after they have done all the work themselves to get to the top.  I suppose the publishers pockets are so deep that they don't care. To me, that is arrogant. All I want are my rights back, and so do a ton of authors (yes--WE TALK and there are many of us who are grumbling). If I get my rights back, Big 6 publisher and I can make readers happy, and make a little money together. Novel idea, huh?

I realize that this is a battle I will not likely win, so writing this may be a waste of my time and just a rant. However, maybe it will wake someone up.

Rant over. I am now going back to writing.

Have a wonderful day!



Joanie said...

I honestly believe it's probably more of a legal issue than anything. Their lawyers say don't give an inch here, or authors will be asking for more. Plus, the fact they still have the rights to the other four are probably making their lawyers shake their heads in concern (and like morons), since that will mean this publisher doesn't control a third of the series--so they can't control how you market it (heaven forbid you GIVE ebooks away when they charge $7.99 for ebooks of the other four)or what kind of quality hard copies you have (like there's so much of a choice?).

Since I have my hard copies (and treasure them, and have hand sold them to people in bookstores) I will keep my fingers crossed you get the rights so more readers can sample this wonderful wine lovers series from the start.

Your rant is something everyone needs to hear--writers, readers, and...publishers.


Lynne Spreen said...

I just don't know what the trad pub industry can do for us anymore. I think if I worked for them I'd be worried. It's not that easy being chief cook and bottle washer every day for my writing career (ex., it's been days since I've actually WRITTEN anything, being so busy with marketing my first book), but at least I own the rights. As you convey, it's worth everything.

Gayle Carline said...

They ship you a standard response and are willing to wait you out. Why? Because they know you're an author and from experience, they know you're poor. Why? Because you sure haven't made any money with THEM. In their world, you have no clout.