You may remember how Azure Fire Publishing has both hired me to be their Editor-in-chief and asked me to publish my fantasy/sci-fi books with them.
I now have some more exciting news to share: Patakis, the largest Greek publishing house, has bought in advance my next 3 children’s books and will publish them next year in Greece. Which means I am officially a hybrid author, as they also offered me a cash advance (a small one, but hey, it’s the principle, right?)
The new books continue the adventures of the little boy, his dog, and a few new cast members including a dragon (some Musiville favorites also make guest appearances). Their titles are Valiant Smile, Whisker Smile, and Lola’s Smile. All books will now be officially part of the Mystery Smiles series (the old name, Niditales, will now be phased out).
The first book will be published in Greece in March and the rest are scheduled for May and October. As I still hold the rights for the English language, I will be self-publishing them on Amazon in the same months.
Negotiating With A Publisher
- Patakis first expressed an interest in my books almost 3 years ago. Even though we’d hit it off, I never heard from them for over 2 years. Then, earlier this year, I received an email telling me they would be interested in signing me on. Things in the publishing world move far slower than in the Indie one (“at a glacial speed,” as a seasoned pro once described it). Keep that in mind when you send in manuscripts or respond to a publisher’s interest. Publishers work at a completely different timescale than Indies. They make long-term plans and already have a publishing schedule that spans several years. Which means it can take a while before they get to your book.
- It took us over 6 months of negotiations to successfully sign the contracts. The first draft they sent me covered all of their needs. The final contract was more balanced, addressing my concerns as well. For example, I made sure to include clauses that would see the rights to the books revert to me in the event of the publisher going bust or in the event they sold under 150 copies in a single year. Stick to your guns where it matters to you.
- Patakis accepted increasing some royalties during our negotiations. Others, not so much. I know I said you should stick to your guns, but you should also be ready to compromise and accept that you win some, you lose some. Choose your battles and know when to budge.
- I’ve heard plenty of authors (especially trad-published ones) claim that no publisher would ever touch an Indie-published work. I’ve always been skeptical of that claim. Now, I know it’s a non-issue. Indeed, being an Indie was a definite advantage in my case. It has taught me a lot about publishing. It has honed my writing and marketing skills. And it helped me understand the publisher’s point of view during our contract negotiations, something that proved invaluable. I got far more generous terms than most authors signing on to a major publisher because of my Indie experience, as the publisher admitted. Having a proven sales record also helped secure a better contract. It also allowed me to keep the publishing rights for the English language, as I could prove that I was doing a better job selling my book than they would.
- My book marketing expertise was much appreciated. In fact, they offered me a consultancy position to help them push some of their other books on Amazon. Which shows you just how precious (and uncommon) a skill it still is.
- When negotiating your contract, consult a lawyer and be honest. If a term gives you pause, let them know. Explain what it is that troubles you and offer a solution that covers your needs as well. Always be polite and professional, but don’t be afraid to speak your mind. You’re entering a partnership, and it’s the same as with any romantic relationship: if they can’t love you for who you are, chances are it won’t last long.
- Do your homework. Is the publisher someone you want to do business with? What do you hear from other authors? In my case, I was helped a lot by two Greek authors (hi Marina, Kosta) who knew what’s happening in the Greek publishing world. When, 3 years ago, I enlisted the help of Delta Publishers in distributing my first book in Greece, I failed to do all that. As a result, I never saw a penny of my sales. Learn from my mistake and don’t rush into things.