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Keep my Publisher or Self-Publish?

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Old 12-12-2013, 05:00 PM
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Icon6 Keep my Publisher or Self-Publish?


What would you do?


I have a publisher who has released two of my three historical novels – and will accept the 4th as soon as I've finished it.


The contract calls for 15% royalties on paperback sales and 40% on e-book. As part of the contract, they provide a cover, edit the manuscript, and publish it on their site, as well as Amazon.com, Smashwords, and other websites. Their web page says:


“We naturally require all Bluewood authors to actively market and promote their book(s), and we go the extra mile to help them become successful sellers. “


In other words, they don't prepare press releases – unless pushed and then provide them in pdf. format – nor send them out to media contacts, and do not have or seek reviewers for the work.


In other words, other than providing a “professional” name as publisher, they do little that I cannot do myself!


So far, the sales suck basically because nobody knows about the novels or has any idea of whether or not they're any good.


My question is this: I have another historical novel I feel has the nugget of great success as it's about a historical figure of heroic proportions. He was a soldier during the Spanish rule of Mexico and one almost no Mexicans know of. He rose from almost nothing to become governor of California, in spite of his place in society and then, when removed from that position for unfair reasons, continued to do his duty, look out for those under his supervision, and generally display characteristics any one would be proud of. With the right marketing, even in English, I think this could be a most successful work in Mexico and among the Mexican-American community.


Should I submit this to my current publisher? Or seek another publisher for it? Or self-publish it?


And, one more question – how do YOU go about getting reviews for your works? I have a massive list of book reviewers, both bloggers and media outlets. Yet, none I've contacted have responded with a request to review either of the two published works.


Would anyone here like to read and review one or both of them?


Thanks for your responses.

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Old 12-12-2013, 06:29 PM
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I'm unpublished and unknown, but I think you're right in that they aren't doing much that you couldn't do yourself. A good cover can be had for not too much, same with editing. As for the power of having the name of a publishing house attached- I think it's near-worthless unless it's a HUGE name or an active niche publisher. Sounds like yours is neither. I know that as a reader, seeing "Bluewood" on the book would not make me any more likely to buy it.
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Old 12-13-2013, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by longknife View Post
So far, the sales suck basically because nobody knows about the novels or has any idea of whether or not they're any good.
If you self publish things will not change.

The issue isn't your publisher, it's you. All publishers now expect their authors to get their hands dirty. What have you done to promote your books? You already know they aren't doing anything, so apart from sitting on your hands, what are you doing?

That having been said, Bluewood are just well-meaning amateurs and it really doesn't matter how good (or bad) your books are, you've consigned them to probably obscurity.

How hard are you willing to work to sell your books?
How long are you willing for it to take?
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Last edited by Mike C; 12-13-2013 at 01:41 AM..
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Old 12-13-2013, 01:36 AM
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If sales are low on other works with this publisher, I'd certainly look elsewhere.

Publishers v self-publishing... Hmmm. You've had experience with a small publisher who doesn't offer much in marketing, and some times self-publishing could be the better choice compared to that. But that's not saying your next publisher will be the same. I'd certainly exhaust every publisher first before going self-pub. You really neeed to know what you're doing self-pub wise including cover art, formating etc.

On reviews: have you joined Goodreads to seE if they have an historical group? Usually they have groups on there who offer reviews for a free copy of the novel.

Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
The issue isn't your publisher, it's you. All publishers now expect their authors to get their hands dirty. What have you done to promote your books? You already know they aren't doing anything, so apart from sitting on your hands, what are you doing?
That's not entirely accurate, Mike. Some small publishing companies fall seriously short in providing even the basics: ie, providing ARCs, only one review copy, not sending out reviews, or putting authors forward for competitions. I'd run a mile from any company who doesn't even provide these basics. You have to have the material to promote it in the first place.

If one author is complaining about sales being low, it can be the author, but if there are more than a few, then it's the publisher.
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Last edited by Whiskers; 12-13-2013 at 01:57 AM..
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Old 12-13-2013, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Whiskers View Post
But that's not saying your next publisher will be the same.
...as long as one does one's research. There are thousands of people who jumped on the publishing bandwagon when e-books became an option, and most are well-intentioned people without much of a clue, a proportion of the rest are out there to rip you off.

The best thing about people like Bluewood is that they're more likely to be open to accepting your novel than a bigger house; the worst is that they're bottom-feeders, they exist on the scraps nobody else wants.

Whether you stick with them or self-publish won't make much difference. You need to come up with a marketing plan and start selling the book, rather than sitting back waiting for the book-fairy to do it for you.
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Old 12-13-2013, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
Whether you stick with them or self-publish won't make much difference. You need to come up with a marketing plan and start selling the book, rather than sitting back waiting for the book-fairy to do it for you.
If you're going to have to do the work either way, what's the point of the publisher? What are they providing for that healthy slice of the (potential) pie?

Maybe there's more to it than I know- probably there is- but from where I stand I'm not seeing what good these kinds of publishers do.
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Old 12-13-2013, 02:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Sepulchrave View Post
If you're going to have to do the work either way, what's the point of the publisher? What are they providing for that healthy slice of the (potential) pie?

Maybe there's more to it than I know- probably there is- but from where I stand I'm not seeing what good these kinds of publishers do.
There's a huge difference.

The good epublishers usually have an established list of reviewers that they submit work to. The author usually has to ask if it's okay to to send out review copies, so they don't compromise the ones that publishing company deals with. Publishers will also arrange interviews, blog posts, provide free advertising banners that go on review sites, enter them the novel into competitions at no cost to the author (my publishers, eg, paid for entry into the Rainbow awards and then also handled all of the promotion for that). They will also (with some of the bigger epubs) provide free merchandise (bookmarks, mugs, T-shirts etc). They basically do most of the leg-work, with the author free to help out if they want to (promote on facebook etc (although the publisher will do this too), but mostly leaving the author free to write.

Some of the smaller epubs don't even hand out a reviewer's list for authors to use: authors are left to find them themselves. And if you're a first-time author with no experience, you're automatically left struggling.

It's worth always checking what promotion a publisher does for you before you sign a contract.
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Old 12-13-2013, 03:18 AM
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Research is everything.
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
If you self publish things will not change.

The issue isn't your publisher, it's you. All publishers now expect their authors to get their hands dirty. What have you done to promote your books? You already know they aren't doing anything, so apart from sitting on your hands, what are you doing?

That having been said, Bluewood are just well-meaning amateurs and it really doesn't matter how good (or bad) your books are, you've consigned them to probably obscurity.

How hard are you willing to work to sell your books?
How long are you willing for it to take?
I have sent out press releases to hundreds of outlets.
I've submitted to dozens of review sites with zero response.
I have talked about them on Google+ and many other social sites.
I have business cards which I pass out and talk about at every chance.

Any other suggestions?
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:39 AM
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I've spent months trying to figure out how Goodreads works and have checked out everything that makes sense to me.

I downloaded their tutorial and it STILL doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
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