Adventures in Traditional Publishing
Thanks to the success of Wool (which I owe to you, my avid fans, who infect others with your good taste in literature) I have been approached by the sort of people that I used to beg for and now rarely think about. Film and TV studios have made serious inquiries, and a handful of agents have written with offers of representation. As many of you know, I finally was wooed by the enthusiasm and reputation of one of these fine agents. She has been awesome to deal with, even as I warned her up front that I had very low hopes for Wool being anything other than an indie hit.
A few weeks ago, my agent sent proposal packets to quite a few major publishers. The results have been both comical and expected. One publisher feared the book was selling far too well for it to be a success with them. Their reasoning was that everyone who wanted to read Wool already had. I suspect the truth is that they know 80% or so of their books don’t make very much money, and they didn’t want to ruin what was already a good thing (it would look less like chance in this case and more like determined incompetence).
Several publishers have been keen on Wool. The first thing they want to do is change the name. Brand recognition and fan bases in the tens of thousands are not good things, apparently. Others expressed interest and are willing to give me less than a third of the royalties I’m currently receiving. I nearly choked on their generosity. Another publisher said the story was weird. Protagonists kept dying, which is not what readers want. They pointed to all the 5-star reviews you people have written as evidence of your disgust. (The most troubling thing about giving anyone the e-book rights to anyone would be the sudden and absolute loss of all the existing reviews you’ve graced me with. Can you imagine me doing that?)
It’s been an informative exercise, that’s what this has been. I can now see how lucky I’ve been that Wool has done well at your hands and with your guidance. I had a number of works out at the time, and reviewers explicitly clamored for more Wool. As I wrote the stories that followed, I had your encouragement and feedback at every turn. You helped design the covers; you spread the word; you left hints of what you liked and disliked in your emails and reviews. All of which played a part in how the story unfolded.
I will be ecstatic to remain an underground success. It’s more than I ever dreamed of. What’s great about publishers not wanting to take the print side of things to the next level is that your voice is the only one that matters. When you comment on this site, write a review, tell a friend or family member about any of my books, you give me the only feedback I care about. Thanks for that. And thanks to Amazon for being the kind of middleman that just wants to connect frugal readers with struggling writers. It’s been a match made in heaven.