Hi all!

 

I am a crime author residing in South Africa. My first novel was released a number of months ago through a company called Raider Publishing, a USA based publishing company.

 

I have since created a website (www.jackhanger.com) and I have submitted the book for local reviews.

 

Anyway, now I have a series of problems hindering my growth and I really need some advice. My publishers have refused to use local distributors, so the book won’t make it to shelf space unless I can get it there myself. As a new author, this is not doable. Also, I may not distribute the book as the publisher holds the rights. So now Ingram is the distributor and SA bookstores hardly ever purchase through Ingram because of a Rand/Dollar conflict.

 

So, I figured the book could be released on e-book/kindle format for the overseas market. As this was a feature my publishers introduced into their services after publication of my book, I now have to pay for this service. Again, I’m not allowed to do it via someone else as they hold the rights.

 

Because of the slow progress, I have lost out on a possible movie deal. I now realise I have to promote and try to sell the book in the UK and USA because there the people are more active readers and more appreciative of crime novels than SA locals. My finances are depleted, so marketing it to UK and USA readers is out of the question.

 

What to do? Please give me some advice on how to generate sales, so that I can finish my second novel. Also, I want to avoid the pitfalls encountered with the first book. Any advice or help will be appreciated.

Regards,

James Fouche

www.jackhanger.com

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First off, finish your second novel regardless.  Next, I'm not altogether clear on this; you sold world rights and e-rights to this publisher?  They make you pay for e-book formatting while taking the lion's share of the e-royalties? They refuse to distribute the book in S.A.?  (and perhaps in other English-speaking countries except the U.S.)?  That sounds like a terrible contract.  Don't give them the second book and talk to a lawyer familiar with book contracts.

And good luck with book 2.  Umm, an agent would be a good idea.  I assume you didn't have one on the previous book.

IJ, you assume correctly. The first one I was as blind as blind could get. I was smart enough to keep movie right, but that would only be clever if the movie made it to production level. The publishers have the book for three years and there is very little I can do. They have rather abruptly put me in my place and told me not to expect anything more.

 

Believe it or not, I'm having difficulty finding an agent who would take on a South African author. Any ideas?

 

I'm pushing on with the writing but the snag of it is that I have to tend to a second work in order to survive. This eats up my writing/research time, and I'm quite a stickler when it comes to research.

 

I wrote an article about balancing writing and work: http://blogs.litnet.co.za/bigbookchainchat/80-the-right-time-to-wri...

 

Thanks again for the encouragement to push on with the second one. On FaceBook fellow authors and I urge one another on by setting up word races, the target perhaps being x number of words by Christmas.

 

j

I agree with I.J.  Have an experienced lawyer read your contract and advice you.  Most of the marketing ideas I would have suggested seem to be blocked by the publisher.
After I responded, I did a little research and it seems there are other authors who are unhappy with Raider.  A website we should all use is Predators and Editors at http://pred-ed.com/pebr.htm.  There, Raider is just listed as Vanity Press.

Brian,

 

I later discovered the true meaning of vanity press and they certainly never marketed themselves as such. For all possible reasons I thought them to be a legitimate publishing house. When I discovered I'd been duped, I immediately thought myself a bad writer.

 

I was promised marketing across the map and all they have done is list a very basic Press Release and put the book up with Amazon and other e-sites.

 

So what now? They have the 3-year term and I just want to maximize sales so I can pay attention to the next book.

 

James

Best advice?  Move on.  Chalk your experience up as just that.  I fell victim to the same situation with PublishAmerica.  They are only interested in selling ME books and are continually hounding me to buy more.  Their promises are empty. But not all vanity presses are bad.  Just don't let this happening slow you down.  Write, write, write.
I also agree, chalk this up to a bad experience and move on. Write the next book, but forget the agent hunt too.(just another middle (wo)man to get in your way and take your money for things you can do yourself). Write the next book. Research publishers yourself and submit directly. If its good enough they will buy it. If you get a contract, like IJ said, hire a good IP attorney to go over the contract before you sign.
Or put it up on amazon, bn.com & smashwords yourself.
Good luck.
David DeLee
Fatal Destiny - a Grace deHaviland novel
If you're self-publishing, you don't need an agent.  If you want a publisher's contract you need an agent to watch out for your rights.  Do not trust publishers.

I agree completely. Don't trust the publishers to do right by you, but I disagree an agent can do any better. I suggest getting a good intellectual property attorney to review and negotiate your contract. They are more knowledgeable about contracts than agents and will do it for a flat fee, not a 15 % commission.

Just my opinion

David DeLee

Fatal Destiny -  a Grace deHaviland novel

Ah, but agents also sell other rights.  And they cannot simply be uploaded on Kindle.
Agents know lots of editors. They know what those editors are buying, and what they can be persuaded to buy. They know how the publishing industry works, what kinds of books are marketable and which are tougher sells. They know what the standard contract provisions are, what other authors of similar books are getting, which rights to retain, and when to fight for better terms. A good agent will actively negotiate on your behalf beyond basic matters like advances, royalties and print runs. A good agent will work to sell foreign rights, film/TV, audiobook, and other rights you may not even be aware of. A good agent will also read your manuscript and help you make it ready for the market. None of that is stuff I can do myself, and only the basic contractual details can be handled by an IP attorney (a good agent may also be an IP attorney, and will certainly have one or more on retainer). I wouldn't try to sell a book to a huge corporation without the help of a good agent; even reputable small presses will try to get the best possible deal for themselves at the author's expense. That's business.

All of that is true, Jon, but first you need an agent. I may have benefited from having one, but I'll never know. Queried a pile of them, and they weren't interested in representing me. This makes sense from their angle, because at the time I probably couldn't help them make squat off a 15% commission. But an agent is what I needed at the time.

 

Makes me wish there could be a flat-fee service for agents. That's a pipe dream, though. It'd be wrought with cronies.

 

Fortunately, my fiction is with a small publisher that offers a generous revenue split. I don't think most authors get that lucky, though. They wind up like James.

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