Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Road to Nowhere: An Author's Perspective on Dealing with a Difficult Publisher

Author Peter Darley
After my first novel was picked up three times, only to fall through on each occasion (publishers folding, agent retiring, etc) it was finally signed by a publisher in New York. (Under the terms of my ‘parole papers’ I am prohibited from naming them.)

Before long, I noticed an insensible complacency in my publisher. None of the promotional efforts I was making, or even my book having picked up a sterling celebrity review, seemed to be of any interest to them. Any asset which would have propelled the visibility of the book was discarded by this publisher, who seemed to be comfortable with all of their books languishing at the bottom of the Amazon rankings.

Whatever their business model is, it does not explain this blatant aversion to success. Whether you run the village bakery or if you are an international arms dealer, the bottom line of any business - is profit. If profit is not the agenda here – what is?

Hold On! by Peter Darley
On my publisher’s author ‘support’ blog, I bore witness to threats, by an editor, to authors who dared to question this complacency. Soon, I would find myself on a chilling excursion into utter insanity. 

I was in preparation for a major promotion of my sequel, into which I would have been investing almost $1,000. It should be noted that my publisher would have reaped the majority share of the proceeds from this. Before I went ahead with it, I needed them to add the sequel’s release date to the end of the first book, and upload the amendment to Amazon. With the expenditure involved, my publisher’s silence was beginning to agitate me.

My subsequent discussions with my publisher became heated, and all communication between me and my editor were blocked. Lies and False accusations - that I had asked to be released from my contract, and that I had rejected cover art (that I had designed!) - ensued. All attempts at reasoning with this person failed. In breach of their contract, I had a termination agreement for my sequel forced on me – while they stated they were going to keep the first book (which ended on a cliffhanger, and would have remained at the bottom of Amazon, without my input.) I could do nothing with the sequel without Book One. I was also accused of not ‘acting in good faith’. If that were true, wouldn’t it also apply to my first book?

Extremely creepy cult-like commentary came back from my publisher: “We are cancelling your sequel, but we are still willing to work with you on (your first book) so you can still be a part of our family.”

Ultimately, it cost me close to $800 to buy my first book back from them. It’s interesting that they threw in the cover art as part of the deal, when previously they’d claimed I’d rejected it. Why would this person think I’d want something  I’d allegedly rejected?

I have since set up my own outfit. I have my own editorial team and cover designer, and I am taking my series all the way to the end. J

But what had I got myself involved with? If they are not a business in pursuit of profits, what are they? And why do they seem so intent on such vindictive behaviour?

I am now extremely wary of publishers. Authors seek them, largely as a result of having no knowledge of marketing. The truth is – neither do many publishers. I thoroughly recommend that authors spend time researching book marketing. You can do no worse than signing up to one of these cowboy outfits. They are the road to nowhere.
Peter would love to hear from fans. You can contact Peter through his Website, Twitter or Facebook

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