Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tales of a De-Published Author (Part 1)

If you follow me or if you follow the publishing industry, you have probably heard that Booktrope has decided to close their doors and call it quits, pulling all their titles from the shelves.

If you'e not familiar with Booktrope, it utilized a new model they called team publishing. They created a community of authors, editors, cover designers, and publicists, who would come together and publish a book. It was hybrid publishing with many of the DIY aspects of self-publishing, but it was a system where the author didn't have to pay upfront for their own editorial and design services and where they had a company backing them with expertise and protecting them with their legal team. The idea was that everyone worked on the projects for free in exchange for the percentage of the profits.

Booktrope hasn't announced what precisely led to their decision to close. Although its easy to speculate that they were not getting the market share they needed to survive in the highly competitive publishing world. I could also further speculate that, they were a victim of their own model. They grew a very large community and produced a large volume of titles each year (several hundred in the past year alone). It is easy to see that this wasn't be something that could be easily scaled back, like a small indie publisher might be able to. And it wasn't a company that could be "restructured" like a big publishing house, which had room for streamlining.

The news of their closure came as an extremely disappointing shock to me. As readers of this blog know, I had a lot of regrets about things I wish I had done differently with Mr. 8, but that didn't mean I wasn't proud of it. I was proud of the accomplishment and I was proud to be able to say I had a published book for sale. To find out that this was no longer the case was a biter pill. Not to mention, in the world of a writer, having a book published is the only point you can truly put it behind you. It's done Sure, the marketing never ends. But you'll never have to think about changing those words again. To learn it was being handed back to me felt like a huge step backward.

But the truth is compared to many of Booktrope's writers, I am very lucky. There are writers with many books published through the company, sometimes entire series, many of them profitable. Their books generated an income and they were given just one month's notice that all of those books were being de-listed. Then there are the editors and cover artists, who may have been signing onto a book a month or more, with he expectation their work would be paid for in the future. Now they might not see another cent for their labor, depending on how things shake out.

So what is next for them? For me?

Right now, all that is known for certain is that ll of Booktrope's titles with the possible exception of those listed in Amazon Encore are being pulled form the stores on May 31st. On June 1, the copyrights go back to the authors and each team member retains ownership of their own work.

That last detail makes things very unclear. And makes the way forward (from an author's perspective) murky. In the initial announcement there was some hint that authors could just put up the books as self-published. But there is an overload of questions that surround what that process would look like. And this question of ownership is not the least of them. I hardly want to be playing payroll, dividing up royalties among five different parties spread over three countries. Not that they don't deserve payment for the good wok they've done. But it a hard enough challenge finding spare time to write, never mind figuring out exchange rates.

For the time being, we are all waiting to hear more. There are a lot of blogs who write about the experience of getting published. If you're interested, stay tune and I'll tell you all about my saga of being de-published.

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