You can’t make this stuff up. A book entitled AT ANY PRICE goes up for auction with major New York publishers, and the author of the book finds out that she can’t be bought. Not with certain contract restrictions and other considerations taken into account.
This is an amazing story. Brenna had one book out on submission, and while she waited, she did what every writer should do: She started the next book. This new story totally swept her up, and in 12 days, she had a rough draft. Another month and a half later, she had a book that she knew was special. Read her account of what happened next. It’s riveting.
What jumps out at me is the community of authors she turned to for advice. Everything I’ve heard about RWA — and having had the pleasure of hanging out with some of the top romance authors in the business — it makes me feel a little inept at how savvy and hardworking these authors are. They are prolific, skilled, professional, and brilliant. They make me feel lazy, if you can imagine that.
Turning to her colleagues for advice, Brenna found the sort of new information that is just emerging about her potential paths to publication. She knew from Courtney Milan that she should consider her net worth. She knew to be wary of non-compete clauses, which are poisonous for both publisher and author and yet still persist. She knew a multiple-book deal was a bad move. She knew the long lead-time to publication would hurt her. She knew high e-book prices could prevent her from breaking out.
What really moved me about her story is how familiar it all feels. These are the exact same things that I wrestled with. This is very similar to the position I found myself in. Yeah, Brenna, I know what it’s like to cry over good news. It’s baffling to feel miserable about an offer you have dreamed of your entire life. And that’s this nether-where that we find ourselves in right now as an industry struggles to cope with a new paradigm.
And it will cope. Publishers are coming around faster than other industries have. We are seeing reduced e-book prices from major publishers as we speak. Some publishers are getting rid of the non-compete clause (smaller publishers, anyway). Some have taken huge risks on terms of license or print-only deals. There is progress. More will come.
I’m just delighted to see that the community of authors who are figuring all of this out are there for each other, sharing what they learn, so everyone can make the best decision for themselves. I think Garth Hallberg made the right decision to go with a major publisher. The book he wrote will do better in bookstores and with a major marketing campaign (and I plan on reading it). There is no one solution for all writers. We each need to have a good cry and make the best choice we know how.
Speaking of a good cry, I’m expecting one of Brenna’s book. Yeah, I just bought a copy of AT ANY PRICE and sent it to my Kindle. I don’t think Brenna will need my two bucks in the grand scheme of things, but I’m happy to do my part. I hope she makes every penny of that 6-figure offer back and then some.