Bombs Away!

Forgive me Miss Snark for I have sinned. It's been 2 years since my last sale. I have unwittingly committed a Cardinal sin. I sold my first novel, it hit shelves last year but sales bombed and my big-name publishing house dropped me like yesterday's news. Now my agent is struggling to sell my next ms. Can Miss Snark offer absolution in the way of hope, or am I destined to only sell to vanity and e-presses for the rest of my life?

Define "bombed".
Selling 10,000 copies is bombing for Random House.
It's a nice tidy success for Greywolf Press, Ig Publishing, Softskull, and other smaller, less overheaded publishers.

Find a small press. Make friends with them. Sell them the paperback rights to the bomb.
Then sell them the tpo rights for book two.
Then kick some serious sales ass.
Then put "Miss Snark is Da Bomb" on the acknowledgments page and email me so I can buy a copy.


Jude Hardin said...

I like this advice, Miss Snark.

I think a new author would do well to go with a small press. Big advances from big houses are great, but if you don't sell through then you're likely to be dropped. It usually takes several books to build a fan base, so a small press might be more likely to stick with you through the lean times.

Simon Haynes said...

I agree with Jude, and that's what I ended up doing. Build a rep with small press and learn the craft. Most small presses are content with sales that would have an author dropped by a biggie, and if you want to build a career as a writer rather than trying to sell and promote your one and only book then small press might be the way to go.
We all like to think our work is hot stuff - with small press you often get longer to prove it because you're not getting shuffled out the way for next week's batch of new books.

Anonymous said...

So...what would make Random House happy? For a first timer, if they sell 50 thousand, they gonna smile? Or will it take a 100 thousand? A million?

Termagant 2 said...

As a small-press experienced person, I do beg to insert some caveats here:

1) whereas a bigger house will give your book some (variable) attempt at marketing/distribution, most small presses will not. You're on your own. YOU, not their publicity department, will be blamed if sales are low.

2) a small press can drop you, too, but it takes longer.

3) don't confuse small press with author loyalty. Just like the Big Guys, it's based on sales. Poor sales=no loyalty.


Anonymous said...

This leads to another issue. Suppose you've published several books with major houses, all with miserable sales and mixed reviews (if any).

How much are agents and publishers aware of that when they pore over your new manuscript?

Would it be better just to come up with an alias?

Anonymous said...

Then how do you make the shift to a large press? If your sales make the small press happy, they're still low in the eyes of the big guys.

Boy, this business is hard.

Glenda Larke said...

Yes, for most of us, it is indeed hard!

It's funny, because in the beginning you thought all you had to do was get published...!

My first book like icecream on a hot day and I thought I had it made - but the publisher dropped the imprint and remaindered the books while I was still on the Amazon bestseller list. I have had a bigname publisher take on 3 books of mine without any marketing budget whatsoever.

There are no rules in this game. None.

You have to be crazy to want to write books, crazier still to try to get 'em published, and plain deluded to think you can make a living at it. And would I ever stop? Nope! It's taken one heck of a long time, but I am almost making as much as the average waitress...

Anonymous said...

I believe it is b-a-l-m. As in, "you are da balm." You know, the ointment, cure, fix!?!?!

spaulson said...

Fourth anon - no, it is "da bomb". Can you really imagine someone who uses the word "da" also using the word "balm"?