Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Prodigal Author and the Major Pub

Before the Kindle, we had the ...

I'm in Florence for the month working on two sets of galleys, researching a new novel, and trying to make two trade journalism deadlines. Plus my son the Bear is with me, and despite some junkets to Rome and other places, I'm really trying hard to get everything done before I have to hand back the keys to this apartment on the 31st. That said, I've been cruising through some of the more prominent lit blogs looking for a topic I can blog about quickly and effectively. Or, to be more frank, I'm more or less looking for a topic I can rob.

But all existing topics aside, there seems to be a new thread I'm noticing that's springing up amongst just what a few months ago might have been some steadfast "indie" authors, some of whom publish with indie small presses like StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink (as in my case) and some of whom DIY. The thread is this: Indie authors who are making waves in the bestseller lists are being picked up by the majors. And gladly.

Thriller writer Simon Wood is one author, who like me, has been published by the biggies in the past and while the experience wasn't by any means an end-all/be-all, he nonetheless has found great success in indie publishing, especially when Amazon directly marketed one of his titles catapulting it to the No. 2 spot on overall Amazon Kindles. You can check out his story here at JA Konrath's Blog.

Wood has to be making a great payday as an indie. I know this from personal experience. I too have reached the top ten and held tight at the No.3 spot with THE INNOCENT while at the same time, held tight with two other books in the top 100. That said, why would I want to publish any other way than indie?

But take the case of JCarson Black who has also been killing it in the top 100. She's another ultra successful indie author who has been with the biggies in the past and has recently made a return by having signed a multi-book deal with Thomas and Mercer, Amazon's new publishing house. Thing you gotta ask yourself is this: if the machine ain't broke, why try and fix it? If she was doing so well as an indie, why sign on with a big publisher?

Same story with Scott Nicholson who has literally written the book (or books) on the subject of indie publishing. Both he and Konrath have signed with the aforementioned T&M...There must be another dozen hyper-successful indie authors like these who have either willingly given up indie publishing exclusively or are contemplating it, even while kicking some serious ass with no real end in sight. Why are they doing it? Why jeopardize the relative freedom and money-making potential to once more become beholden to a big corporation?

I think the answer lies not in dollars and sense or big business vs. the little guy or even logic for that matter. I think the answer has to do with the human condition. Or to be more precise, the one thing that is most important to a professional writer: validation.

I'm not going to lie. Even after experiencing one of my lucrative years (and the year ain't over yet by a long shot) as an author since signing a mid-six-figure deal with Delacorte, I have some things on the fire. Rather my agent is working them. Soon as they are done and can be announced, you'll all hear the dinner bell clanging loudly. Suffice to day I'm open to making a return to the biggies not just for the money, but to be perfectly honest, for the pride as well. I have a perfectly good and lucrative and happy experience right now publishing with StoneHouse and StoneGate Ink, but to be offered an opportunity to do the same at another big house would only add further validation (there's that word again) not only to my recent Top 10 success, but to me as a writer also.

I wonder if a lot of indie authors out there feel the same way?

No matter what happens I plan on continuing my relationship with the "Gates," but I also want to explore the enormous marketing and distribution possibilities of once more being with a major pub.

Being an indie rocks, no doubt about it. Just me against the big bad world. But then so does belonging to something important and exclusive, like a major publishing house. I mean, what the hell, I'm only human.


  1. I believe that many indie authors feel similar to you, in that, they appreciate the validation and other "perks" of the big publishing houses.

    If you get that opportunity to publish with the big boys, I say, "Go for it!"

  2. It's the circle of life, Vin. The circle of life.

    My fingers are crossed that this time around, you are treated so much batter than the last.

    What am I saying, you will be. You are an amazing author who has already blazed the trail and filled it with rabid readers. All your big pub has to do is follow your lead.