I belong to my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, and we met on Saturday. One of our paper and ink published authors gave a talk. At the end, she discussed her advance, and what she referred to as earning through her advance. She said that three years ago, a NYTs bestselling author told her 65% sell through on your advance was considered the “sweet spot.” Today, she’s there, and it’s not good enough anymore. Her publisher is balking at signing another contract with her saying her numbers are too low.
Another long time veteran author joined the discussion. She said she’s in the same boat, and she’s been paper and ink published for about two decades. Several of our more veteran published authors are in the process of reinventing their careers, scanning their backlists to convert to e-published formats and putting them out there on their own. They can’t count on contracts from the big publishing houses anymore, even though some of them have been in print for as long as twenty-five years. They’re mid-list authors. At one time, mid-list authors were considered the bread-and-butter for a publishing house. Not so today, and it’s anybody’s guess what tomorrow will bring.
The ripple affect of Borders’ closing was also discussed. The more veteran author said it has seriously impacted her sales numbers in a disastrous way, and it’s bound to affect all print published authors. Markets are shrinking faster than paper published authors can adapt.
All of it made me grateful that I’m e-pubbed. I don’t have an advance sell through rate to worry about, though I’m not sure what happens if my numbers are extremely low. (Lord, I hope they aren’t THAT low. I’ll worry about that another day.) Markets for e-books are plentiful and growing.
My CP asked me if I was going to query agents with my new book. At one point I had told her I would, but only because I want to be paper and ink published as well as e-pubbed. Now I’m not so sure. She’s had an agent for about a year, and I don’t see that having one has done her much good. I responded that I truly don’t know whether or not I would once again seek representation. After listening to the two authors talk, I’m wondering if it’s worth pursuing print publishing at all? If I don’t print publish, do I need an agent? Obviously I don’t have one. I believe I’ve been rejected by just about everyone out there.
Authors can submit directly to e-publishers. At least for today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Today we’re seeing agents turning into publishers in an attempt to adapt to their own rapidly changing world. I just don’t know. It’s all kind of up in the air.
What do the rest of you think?