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I have been approached by two different small traditional publishers to co-publish my historical novel after I sent them a query. I allowed one of them to send me a contract but in the end decided against the 'deal' as I could self-publish for much less than what I was asked to contribute to the co-publishing deal. I was told I would still have to do much of the marketing. Other than having a 'legitimacy' not always accorded to a self-published author, I just couldn't see myself doing this. Their reasoning on the co-publishing was that I was a new and unknown author with no ready, for sure audience; thus a high risk.

My question is whether or not anyone here has had experience with co-publishing offers and whether or not it worked out for the benefit of the author to do this?

Thanks! I'm new here and like a kid in a candy store! lol

Sherri Knight
author of Tom P's Fiddle

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I guess you have to way up the cost-reward trade off.

You could do it cheaper yourself. But if you end up with a poorer quality product, with fewer sales, then it wasn't worth it. Remember the old adage I am too poor to buy cheap shoes.

But, if you don't think they have a good marketing plan, don't have good links into bookstores, distributors libraries, magazine reviews, etc etc then they don't deserve the extra money they are charging.

Would they be prepared to give you a reference list of other people they've co-published with, so you can talk about their perspective of whether it is worth the extra money?
Hi Marion,

Thanks for the reply. I took two weeks to mull over the contract I was sent. During that time I researched carefully the publisher as well as other publishing contracts. I had read The Fine Print of Self Publishing by Mark Levine. With the purchase of the book, I got a 30 minute free consultation with him. Great information. He actually spent one hour with me.

I spoke to the President of the small press that offered me the contract more than once asking important questions such as those you raised in your reply. Would they set up book signings? Would they get my book into stores? The answer was no to both questions. The press did have a good reputation, but I could see that other than having both a national and international distributorship, I would be doing most of the marketing. I finally contacted some of their authors, and I guess that's what tipped the scale. Few had sold much at all.

So I laid out three questions for myself. Could I find a POD publisher who could offer the same services that this small press could for less? The answer was yes - even national and international distributing. Could I find a POD publisher who would give me more royalties for my efforts? I found one who would give me 100% royalties. Could I find a POD publisher who would let me buy my book at cost rather than having to buy them at just a percentage off - like 50% off which is what the traditional press wanted for author copies. I found a POD who is only going to charge for shipping and a small admin fee for each order. AND I can end the contract with 24 hour notice - just in case I get a better offer from a traditional publisher. The contract states that all services that I've purchased will remain mine such as the cover art and printing layout. The only thing I would have to return is the ISBN number.

So that left me to wrestle with the legitimacy issue, which is huge. In the end, I chose to go the POD route. I sent an email to the small press president and did not even receive the courtesy of an acknowledgment reply.

I am determine to do all that I can to see my book a success, but, then, I think that's what I'd need to do anyway! My book will probably not be out until early spring. Here I am learning as much as I can, trying to be as big a sponge as possible!

Sherri Knight
author of Tom P's Fiddle
If it smells like a rat....

I went the self-pub route after investigating every possibility. I had my own personal reasons for doing so, but its been the best choice for me. I'm a control freak, so having complete control of my sales was paramount to me. I also had a marketing background (somewhat) so I felt confident in that area. Being a gabologist help! LOL!

I will probably do it again, although I have two traditional companies "courting" me now. Everything is a trade off and its what works best for you, your book, your family, etc. Only YOU can determine that.

Let me say this, (this should be taught in Writing 101)....The bulk of the marketing is done by the author. I would say comfortably 90%. If you don't believe me, ask around. I was astonished to learn this but once I did, I put my big girl panties on and dealt with it. After more research, asking endless questions of successful authors (I was their worst nightmare), I made an agressive plan for marketing and followed it through. I also made sure I followed up with any and all calls to book store owners. I was like a bad daughter, I kept coming back. I got to know them, love them, and I was determined. I was considerate of their time and I valued their input. Not all took books to sell, or ask me in for a book signing, but most did and the ones that didn't, well...I have them on the "rebound" list. Don't you know they hate to hear my voice; again? hahahah....

I hear all this talk about how self-pub books aren't in the BIG stores....Do you know how many INDEPENDENT book stores there are? Like a bazillion. Can Self-Pub authors make a living selling their books, articles, and such? Darn tootin! In the first three months of my book's debut, I sold more books than most of my author friends have sold in two years. Its work, its HARD work, but is it EVER worth it!

If you haven't read The Frugal Book Promoter; how to do what your publisher won't" then you need to. Check with your local library and see if they have a copy. Its written by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. She's a wealth of info and has a free newsletter you can sign up for. Tell Carolyn that I sent you. She's a doll!

Good luck in all that you do. Like I said, its hard work but it doesn't feel like work at all when it is a labor of love! JJ

I was offered the same type of deal by a Canadian publisher back in 1996. I hadn't queried them, they contacted me and asked to see a couple of sample chapters from my ms. They must have gotten my name from when I filed for copyright. At any rate, after getting over the initial euphoria that someone was willing to publish me, the lightbulb came on. Like you, I realized my "share" of the cost was more than what it would cost me to use a self-publishing service. I ended up going through 1stBooks - now Author House. From what I've learned in the 11 years since, it was definetly the right decision not to sign on with them.

Good luck..
Hi Sherri, Along with the bookstore, we own a small publishing company in Istanbul. We have co-published on a few occasions. If there is good communication and negotiation with all parties involved and a contract is signed, everyone should be pleased with the outcome. Hope that is helpful. Let me know if I can be of any further with specifics. Best to you! Charlotte


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