After many decades in effect, the above has now pretty much stopped being true. The current revolution in the publishing industry has turned the ancien regime on its head. Case in point:
Last week Glynn and I met with some very nice folks at a small-to-maybe-midsized publisher who wanted to buy the print rights to our Arisen series. (And also some of the e-rights, in their ideal scenario).
While they were extremely nice and funny and clearly passionate about books as well as rather geeky: their CEO is a knight who actually jousts (*) and we enjoyed the visit as well as a nice pub lunch, and while their ideas were good and their offer fair and it would have been great to have some handsome omnibus paperback editions up on the shelf… we ultimately had to decide that, in the end, this path didn't take us where we wanted to go. They were planning on an initial print run of 10,000 copies. But we've already sold 100,000 books on our own. And our next goal is to sell a million. Crazy? Perhaps. But, for the moment, we decided to keep the crazy dream alive, keep building our world and readership, and keep our options open for a bigger deal, from a bigger player, down the road. And, until then or barring that, we're going to do our own paperback editions, and hold on to the rights ourselves.
So I just sent them a very gently worded rejection letter. How's that for a sea change? (Having spent a decade in the wilderness, receiving thousands of rejections myself, I feel entitled to say it is.)
To a great extent, in the end the decision came down to this one: whether we think we've peaked or not. (*) And, to borrow a line from the American conservatives and neocons: “decline is a choice.” One we're declining to make.
Put another way: we're doubling down on us.
Oh, yeah Michener also said:
Now onward and upward! And very many thanks indeed to everyone who has supported us so faithfully to this point.
If you're of the mind that my own experience is unique or at least very unusual, then check out self-pub'd bestselling phenom Hugh Howey's data-driven demonstration that an awful lot of self-pub'd authors, having escaped the New York/London system, are not only making very good money but are on the verge of dominating.
And if you think the traditional system wasn't so bad for authors, check out J.A. Konrath's deconstruction of the unconscionability of standard publishing contracts.
Basically, big publishing houses had a monopoly on the distribution of books for decades, and acted accordingly. Now that lock is broken and, as smarter people than I have pointed out, it turns out the only indispensible people in the publishing process are readers and writers.
It's also worth noting: there has only ever been ONE huge zombie book. (WWZ). Where's the next huge zombie book?!
He received an OBE, Order of the British Empire. And he has a suit of plate armour in the corner of his office. He even had some excellent suggestions about medieval fortress techniques that might be used by our characters in the imminent siege of London, which we're almost certainly going to take. Correction: it turns out the OBE isn't, quite, a knighthood.