I am a somber introvert, but I managed a rare smile after receiving an email from a publisher in 2011 agreeing to publish my first paranormal novel.
Looking back in 2019, I regret signing the contract and realize it was the worst decision I could have made for my writing career.
Like all new authors I contacted multiple publishers to be politely told I wasn’t the type of author they were seeking. When I received an email from a niche publisher based in America I felt relieved and proud. After all, I thought you were an author only after being published by a traditional publishing company.
I figured a novel legitimized me as a writer. More so, it was an American publisher to boot. This would get my name out there. It would open doors because this was my stepping stone.
Being new to the process, I overlooked things I wish I had taken note of and acted on. In hindsight, I just wanted to be published and ignored things I would certainly address now. In my desperation to be published I proceeded knowing it wouldn’t work out. At this time self publishing was seen as vanity publishing and certainly wasn’t at the level it is today.
I had spent a year writing the novel. I was proud of it. I was ecstatic when I received the cover art. It was perfect and exactly what I asked for.
This is where the positive ended.
The editor spent huge amounts of time emailing me explaining how although he was working on my novel, he suffered from a number of aliments that would cause him to take some time. I learned a lot about his depression and joint pain via email.
On a number of occasions I had to email him in order to revert to my original text he changed. His alterations affected the story further on, often to the point it became very confused.
Once the first round of editing was complete the owner who signed me completed the final editing. I reread the entire novel and found mistakes created by the first editor that the second didn’t pick up. When he had changed some of the words he left punctuation that should have been removed with the original text.
Finally the novel was complete and it was released on the publishers website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and a few others. They took care of the ISBN number and all of the administrative requirements.
One of the many negatives of signing with a niche publisher is you are responsible for all of the advertising. I soon realized after joining the author support groups administered by the publisher and utilizing various other outlets, thousands of authors were trying to sell to thousands of other authors.
I called it symbiotic sales. You buy my book and I’ll buy your book. It was impossible to get the novel in front of non authors unless I spent every waking hour online and had a large budget.
The information attached to the book on Amazon became corrupted. I have a very common name and an author with the same name who writes non-fiction British history books merged with my information. Somehow I write paranormal horror novels (my work) and after attending York University I am a Professor of British history (his work). Amazon hasn’t been helpful in correcting this.
After zero sales (except from a couple of family members who brought on Amazon) everything stagnated. No sales, no reviews and then the publisher sold to another niche publisher.
I attempted contact but heard nothing. I emailed a number of times but gave up when my day job took over my time.
Fast forward seven years when the contract expired and the rights reverted to me. I tried to make contact again and only got a response when I threatened legal action.
The response I received was unhelpful. I was informed the company was being wound up because it was broke. I was promised revestments were being sent but of course, I received nothing. After searching his name online, I discovered the owner of the new company had a very bad name among the industry and admitted funneling money from his businesses to his personal accounts and hadn’t paid money owed to authors.
I now have a novel partially credited to another author, unable to receive payment if by some miracle it starts to sell (the publishing company gets paid by Amazon and then forwards royalties to me, but they are bankrupt and no longer trade) and I am finding it extremely difficult to get the rights reverted back to me to receive payment direct from Amazon.
However, the main reason I regret publishing through the company is the novel is actually rubbish. The publisher should have told me so when I sent the manuscript to them. It takes an incredibly long time for anything interesting to happen and it’s full of cliches.
I have since learned that the original publisher accepted most submissions sent to them and I suspect they didn’t read the manuscript until the editing started after I signed their contract.
So I forever have a bad novel attached to my name (and someone else’s) that I will never receive royalties for and should never have been published in the first place.
I currently ghost write for a gardening blog and receive more for one 1500 word article than I have ever received for my novel.
I will write a novel again, but I will self publish and use a unique pen name.