You were probably expecting the next “This Book Cannot Make Any Money” post, today, but I haven’t been able to work on it much this week. That’ll have to be pushed to next week.
The REASON I haven’t been able to work on it, however, is pretty big news, and if you’re here for ‘self-publishing tutorials,’ some of the background information might still be informative.
I was hoping to be able to be able to talk about this news in specifics when it came out, but a change of plans means I need to wait before I can mention a few details. In the meantime, however, here’s what’s been going on the past couple weeks:
Thanks, I’m guessing, to the success of The Merrimack Event, I was approached by a literary agent (this is USUALLY the wrong way around; if you are going this route, you usually should be approaching the agent, instead; however, a quick investigation proved this agency was legitimate and well respected). This agent mostly works with already published authors (often independent authors, though not always) to sell subsidiary right — namely, audiobook and foreign translation rights.
Now, I have long WANTED to produce an audiobook format for my books, but the process for self-publishers is more daunting and\or expensive and\or time consuming than I’ve been able to manage:
First, I understand you need to turn your manuscript into a ‘script’ for the narrator (I’ve never done this before, and I’m not entirely sure what’s involved), and then you need to have your narrator read, record, and edit their recording at a high enough quality to work as an audiobook. Actually, there’s more to it than that, but the details aren’t all that relevant. Suffice it to say, each of those things take time.
Now, you can hire someone to do all this for you. I got an estimate for that a few years ago (even before In Treachery Forged was released). From a NON-Union voice performer (union would have cost double), it would have cost me about $1650. Yikes! There’s also a profit-sharing model, however — you give up half of your profits, and the narrator will handle the script and editing for you. Probably will do some marketing, too, since they earn money from it as well. But nowadays most of the good, competent narrators will only do that if you have a good enough reputation that they can be sure they’ll earn money from it (which often means, they won’t do it at all).
Now, I still Had A Plan for getting an audiobook off the ground. I wasn’t about to spend thousands of dollars for an experiment in audio, and I wasn’t thrilled with the profit sharing model, but I could still work things out. My local library has a (free to use!) recording studio as part of their “MILL” (Makers In Loudoun Libraries) Program. My mother, though retired, had many years of training as a vocalist, and was studying to do this. I’ve been trying to teach myself sound editing using open-source Audacity freeware.
So an audiobook format was coming… but it would take time, and one thing I never seem to have enough of, nowadays, is time. MAYBE, as an experiment, I could have gotten the tiny little “To the Rink of War” out some time over the course of the next year, but it would take me years to get even one book out, this way.
And along comes this agent, offering to try and get me an audiobook deal. So, after a little hesitation (I am against the very concept of literary agents, and one of the big reasons I decided to self-publish was that it meant I wouldn’t have to work with one, so I had this “am I really thinking about working with an AGENT?” moment), I opened negotiations with an agent, intending to have them work out an audiobook deal for me.
Things we going slowly, but steadily. I was going over their contract and had found a few things that needed changing — no deal-breakers, just a few elements that I (or rather, my cousin the Intellectual Property lawyer) felt needed more clarity. The agent was agreeable to making the amendments, once their own lawyers had a chance to look over them, and I was waiting to hear back from them. And then a Big-Name Audiobook Publisher contacted me directly, wanting to buy the rights to “The Merrimack Event.”
I considered seeing if the agent was still interested in my other books, or in negotiating the foreign-translation rights, but… well, again, I really didn’t want to deal with agents to begin with. So I told the agency I didn’t need their services, and (*gulp*) started direct negotiations with the audiobook publisher.
I’ve… I think the correct way of putting it is “agreed to terms, in principle” with the publisher; I still have to go over or sign the actual contract (so things could still fall apart, but let’s hope not), so I’m not going to say who that publisher is, yet, but just getting this sort of interest feels like an accomplishment.
And if you think the work that I had already done setting up for future audiobook production has been wasted… well, this will only be a one book deal (their initial offer was for two books, but I kept it to one for now). They haven’t (yet) asked for the rights to the Law of Swords books, nor for The Kitsune Stratagem. If this works out, I might see if I can sell the audiobook rights for those other books to this publisher, too, but there are no guarantees; I Had a Plan, but now it’s a back-up plan.
And there’s still “To the Rink of War.” That one I might still do by myself, some time over the next year or so, regardless of what happens with this publisher. We’ll see.
Oh — an a couple smaller pieces of news. Despite its success, there have been a number of complaints about the “then-than” issue in The Merrimack Event. I scoured the text and found five instances where then-than were mixed up (I do know the rule, but 13 years ago I had real trouble with it).
I made these corrections in the print edition before sending it out, but I hadn’t updated the e-book because I anticipated more corrections being needed. I kept asking people to help me find specific examples of this error, because it sounds like a more serious problem than just the five instances I found, but so far I haven’t heard of any from anyone on the specifics. So I finally uploaded the corrected file today. It may take a couple days for Amazon to approve the files (the old file is still available for sale), but if the then-than issue REALLY bothers you, you may want to wait a few days before then collecting the update. (This is such a minor correction you’ll probably have to do this manually, even if you have it set for automatic updates; see here for instructions)
Oh, one last thing: I’ll be experimenting with a couple new plug-ins for this blog this week. I’ve had spambots hitting the comment sections of all of my posts by the hundred, lately (which is why I have to approve your comments, if you’ve ever tried to comment on this blog, before. That’s been the only defense I’ve found which actually works); I’ve already downloaded and installed one plug-in that claims it will handle that problem non-intrusively, and it works so far, but I’m still testing it. We’ll see if I need to try another one.
While I’m fussing around with the plug-ins, I might as well look to correct some of the other problems I’ve had with this blog. For example, the button I used to have that allowed me to “justify” the text vanished, and that’s something I might actually need for my next post. If possible, I’ll also look for some way to disable the horrid auto-hyphenation my theme insists I use. Hopefully things will work the first time, but starting Tuesday there may be occasional (brief) outages as I try things out.
Next week, hopefully, I’ll have the next part of the “This Book Cannot Make Any Money” series, which will be a short story (or at least a fragment of a short story) that will be the “before” example to demonstrate editing techniques on. And maybe I’ll be following up on some of today’s news… if things reach the point that I can safely mention the NAME of that audiobook publisher.