Monday, August 02, 2021

Rights reverted to me, now what?

My debut was published in 2020 by a small press. The publisher just announced they are closing - 30 days notice, all rights and files revert to me.

I currently have an unpublished but polished sequel (same world/characters, dif POV) I've been submitting to both agents and publishers. With this new development, how can(should?) I restructure my query letter and approach?

(A) Should I keep querying book 2 and mention the situation with book 1? 

(B) Should I requery book 1 and mention I have book 2 ready and a fan base anxious to read it? 

(C) Should I just bite the bullet and self-publish both books 1 and 2?

First, yikesy yikes yikes.

This is very Not-Fun BUT it's also not the end of the world.

It's just a bump on the road, and the thing to do is gear down and hit the accelerator.

Vroom baby vrooooom.



The first thing you're going to do is make sure you have a robust mailing list of friends and fans. Demonstrating that there is a readership for your book/s is going to give your vroom-mobile extra clearance to get over that bump.

It sounds like you have that from question (B). Make SURE you mention it in your query.

Now, let's look at what you've got to sell so to speak: both books.

I assume you've queried book #1 and garnered some passes (idiots all of us, right?)

You do NOT want to requery a book that I've already seen. I'll remember. 

That leaves Book #2.

You query Book #2 but you also say you've got Book #1, rights reverted from X Press.

Some publishers will want to publish both books at the same time, OR republish #1 closely followed by Book #2.

There are lots of interesting ways that can be done.

Now, if you want to undertake publishing this yourself, make sure you know what you're getting into.

I can't tell you what your best choice is here.

Only you know what you want to spend your time on.

This might be the time for a very careful analysis of what you want to accomplish, and the best way to do that.


BJ Muntain said...

Janet: the link doesn't work :(

I agree that our OP needs to decide what their career looks like now. Self-publishing can be fruitful, if you are prolific. Or have a fan base. But it's a lot of work. Once Janet fixes that link, you'll learn more.

Or you could try the traditional route. If this doesn't work out, then self-publish? You can't really go the other way (if self-publishing doesn't work out, it would be even more difficult to go the traditional route.

Take some time think about this.

Janet Reid said...

Link fixed, I hope!
(12:04pm EDT)
Let me know if you still have problemos.

Blogger doesn't let me test the links anymore, and
I'm wildly out of practice, sorry!

KariV said...

Thanks for this, Janet! With so many presses closing due to Covid, it's great to know what options authors have as they pick up the pieces of their publishing career.

(Checked the link. It worked for me.)

John Davis Frain said...

I didn't even realize there was a link until I read the comments! Even then, I had to go back and run my cursor around to find it. I thought it was going to be a link to GO DOG GO!

Good luck, OP. If you make a list of problems I'd like to conquer, yours would be near the top, if that's any consolation.

Amy Johnson said...

Janet: Thanks for being so generous with your time, expertise, encouragement, and humor. (Vroom-mobile! Ha!)

OP: I hope all goes well. Book 1 already got published -- you got this! Keep going. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks, Janet. The link works.

One more thing about self-publishing: It’s not a bad way to go, if you have the energy and money to do it right. Some self-published authors won't even try going the traditional route. Some make a lot of money self-publishing.

One thing I prefer about the traditional route: you have people behind you. A publisher, hopefully an agent - having a team just seems more comfortable than going it completely alone.

It's a big choice.

Steve Forti said...

I'm just here for the Go, Dog. Go!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Publishing can be a brutal world. Take the self-publishing advice to heart. It can be fruitful but it is A LOT of work. I hope things pan out for you, OP. What a rough ride into the world of publishing.

NLiu said...

If anyone is interested in some hard data regarding self-publishing, traditional publishing and publishing with a small press, you might want to check out this article and the others it links to on Hannah Holt's blog. She surveyed authors and asked them things like how much money they made, how many copies they sold, how many rejections they had before getting an agent if they had one, etc. This mainly addresses children's fiction (she even has separate articles for YA, MG and Picture Book categories). But if OP is who I think they are then this is right up their street. The articles are a few years old but I can't imagine things have changed drastically since then.

(And OP, if you are indeed who I think you are, when I read this in your newsletter I felt cold all over. Just when the sequel was ready! Ughhhhhhh. What a gaping hole to leave. Sending you all the hugs, cryable shoulders and pillows to scream into right now.)

ADGraves said...

This is scary, to me at least. I have taken a chance with a brand new small press, the owner seems massively dedicated so I said, “why not it’s my debut anyway. I’ll always be writing other books.”

A fear in the back of my head is they things won’t work out or they will shut down, like many small press companies do. I’m staying hopeful for now, but it is so good to have this information if I need it at some point in time.

Thanks Janet for your dedication and help!

AndrewGifford said...

I'll take a look at the series! We're at admin(at) Traditionally published, global distribution, aggressive subrights team. (

AJ Blythe said...

My computer goes on the fritz and Janet comes back to the world of blogging! Dagnabit. Okay, I will enjoy reading the posts and catch up with everyone at the "live" end of things :)