A nouveau Snarkling consults her contract and asks:

Dear Miss Snark, My first novel was published by a small press a few months ago. Since then, they've done nothing. There's no promotion, I've had to supply Amazon with details about the book, and I've had to buy my own copies of the book at the normal rate. I don't think this is normal. The contract's about to expire, and I am thinking about not renewing it and trying to get the book published elsewhere. If I decide that I want to leave this publisher, what should I do next? I don't have an agent, but I have an attorney who has looked over my contracts before, but he doesn't know what I should do. Will publishers and agents be receptive to my queries if I started sending them out again? Will my book being published elsewhere be a detriment or an asset to the process.

Your contract is up? That's not a phrase used to talk about publishing rights. What you need to know is how long the publisher has exclusive rights to print the book. That's usually in the first three sections of a contract. Generally "reversion of rights" (not 'my contract is up') is based on how long a book is considered "out of print", and it's a couple years after that you get the rights reversion.

This is largely an academic question though. Few publishers and even fewer agents will give you the time of day for a previously published book. Second editions (which is what the next edition is for you) are not attractive sales prospects. When you read about someone getting picked up by a big house it's generally because they sold a significant number of copies or won a big ass prize. If these apply, great. If not, you're out of luck.

Time to get busy on the second novel and learn from your mistakes.


Riss said...

Dammit. I haven't really thought about life beyond the completion of my first manuscript. I was just going to pretend that actually finishing a manuscript was the end of the rainbow.

the chocolatier said...

Unfortunately, I've thought about that all too often. I'm a realist and a pessimist and I have probably contemplated every horrific situation that could possibly befall my book, ranging from losing all my backup copies (paranoia has led me to create 12 non-printed and 6 printed) to it rotting in my cupboard forever to thousands of copies moulding in a warehouse.

I'm hoping that by facing reality from the get-go, I can learn from other people's mistakes.

Yes, the world is out to bite you in the ass, but if you're wearing metallic underwear, they'll break their teeth, not your butt.

Molly said...

I might be in the haze of confusion which precedes the morning infusion of caffeine, but there is a word missing in this sentence, right?

"Most publishers and fewer agents are going to give you the time of day for a previously published book."

A word like "NOT," I'm thinking.

Miss Snark said...

Molly, you're right. I've fixed it now. The trouble came with combining "most" and "fewer" Most publishers will not, but fewer agents will....thus the problem.

Isn't grammer grand!!

Thanks for the heads up!

shutupaboutitalready said...

I'm posting semi-anonymously, but I was the one who sent that original question. What I meant - and did not accurately articulate - was how would agents and/or editors feel about representing ANOTHER book, not the one that was published? Since I have the rights back to the first book, they might like that later, but I was thinking about my future, and the other works that I have finished (the sequel to the first book and a non-fiction manuscript). I guess my real question was: how would agents and/or editors feel about someone who was published by a small publisher, didn't do really well, but is now free to look elsewhere? Is the fact that I kind of made it and failed worth anything, or should I just not mention it?