Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Query question: print books only

 I’ve seen a lot of authors talk about how they self-published their novel digitally, then sold their print rights to a publisher while retaining the rights to the digital version. However, virtually all of the query advice I’ve read says don’t bother querying an agent if you’ve already self-published, and I haven’t yet found an agent that will accept a query for the same.

So, I’m curious: What’s the best way to go about selling print-only rights to a self-published novel if most agents auto-reject this kind of query?

Make sure you open emails from editors at publishing companies.

Whereas most agents won't sign something that is a print rights only project, editors at publishing companies might have some sort of special circumstance that would allow them to acquire print only. They'll go looking for it. 

You have your email address on your website, right? It's easy to get in touch, right?

And one thing to REALLY be careful of here: anecdotes and stories from self-pubbed writers that are too old to apply to the current state of the market.

I know of several editors who did interesting kinds of deals with previously self-pubbed writers and are now looking at the resultant sales figures. Most of those are Not Good, which means deals that happened one or two years ago are not being done now.


Colin Smith said...

I presume the digital version would need to have some impressive sales figures for a publisher to even consider such an option? Especially if there's a chance they won't make a lot of money on the deal. There needs to be some strong incentive to want a slice of the pie, I would think.

Hope you're keeping safe and warm there in the frozen North, Janet. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I’m wondering at what point, do those of us who have been around since typewriters and SASE’s were the norm, just throw up our hands and say, here’s the goods, have your any-which-way with me. Problem is the new methods happen so fast, that once we’re warmed up to the new way of doing things, it’s onto a kinkier way of pleasing the publishing-powerful.
I know change is good, tell that to my friend whose wife announced she wanted a divorce on the eve of their 40th anniversary. And new is better, I heard that from a grandmother of three who is dating a guy young enough to deliver her newspaper in a little red wagon. So I’m trying to keep up before I’m too old to care, stuff a brown envelope, and send it to Santa.

Okay, back to painting while the snow falls. The color, too dark, off to find some white to lighten my world.
Hey Janet, we've got plenty of that outside. Stay safe my friend, stay safe.

Colin Smith said...

@2Ns: Typewriters and SAEs... *sigh* those were the days! With all the changes and the 57 varieties of getting a book published, it kind of makes you wish there were people whose job it is to stay on top of all this stuff. Honestly, I'd give 15% of my literary income to someone if they'd make it their job to help me navigate the ever-changing waters of publishing... :)

Pharosian said...

Janet - just curious about your position. If the "Hugh Howey of crime fiction" queried you about trying to obtain a print-only deal, would you turn him or her down? If so, why?

Yes, I've also heard that print-only deals are less likely now than they were when Wool made its big splash because there is a perception that the market has already been tapped out by the e-book. But I also heard that Wool went on to sell an additional 5 million print copies.

Kitty said...

Here's a walk down Memory Lane.

Ten years ago, almost to the month, a blogger who called herself Poddy Mouth began blogging on the subject of Print On Demand books. (At that time, Lee Goldberg thought PODs were a waste of time and money. He contended that a great book will get noticed eventually.) Poddy Mouth began with So that's where the midlist went . . .

She posted posted seven interviews with agents and editors, all of which are worth reading. This was the first: Agent & Editor Q&A: Editor One

Two years later, almost to the day, Poddy Mouth ended her blog with The end isn't near; it's here.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ya know Colin I was thinking the same thing. How about the kind of literary taxi-driver navigator geeky kid who loves books, writers and 15% of near nothing.

AJ Blythe said...

@Kitty - thanks for those links. A very interesting read.

With all the cold weather you guys are having I hope you are snuggled up and getting lots of reading and/or writing done. I'll try and contain my envy.

Kitty said...

@AJ Blythe -- You're welcome!