Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Recently someone posted on the KDP Author Forum threads the recent buzz about the latest independent “indie” author that signed a big publishing deal with one of the “Big 6” publishing companies. This of course only happened after the author had tried publishing the “traditional” way, but was met with many rejection letters from publishers. She then decided to publish her book on Amazon’s Kindle, and was eventually successful as an indie author. So what happened??? Of course, one of the Big 6 publishing companies came knocking on her door…

Sounds like a DREAM come true, doesn’t it?!?!?  For many indie authors the answer would be a definite “Yes!” 
However, another author on the Forum decided to chime in and put the whole “traditional publishing” DREAM into perspective when he posted his response on the thread. His response is below (please note that I shortened his originally post as it was quite lengthy. I also inserted words by using [ ] to make the response flow better.
The response…
I applaud the author's success, but sympathize with her potential loss of income. The Big 6 [publishers] demand that they get the electronic rights to [an author’s] books, and have set the share rate at 25/75. Guess who gets the 25% and who gets the 75%. Further, they require that [an author] have an agent. For new authors, agents get 20% of [the] 25% percent. So what does the author get? Let's do the math. Amazon pays $0.70 cents on the dollar when books are priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For each sales dollar, [an author] gets 25% of the $0.70 cents if [they] work through a Big 6 publisher. That's 17.5 cents. After the agent takes his or her 20%, the author gets the remaining $0.14 cents. For a $4.99 Kindle book, the 'published' author receives $0.70 cents, while an independent author gets $3.49. Ten thousand books at $0.70 equals $7,000. Ten thousand books at $3.49 equals $34,900.

Publishers have been the gatekeepers of the publishing world forever. Being published by a big publisher has long been considered an endorsement of an author's ability. And new authors craving recognition continue to court the Big 6. [However] I think that authors seeking a Big 6 publisher haven't yet had their eyes opened to the fact that if they are successful, they will make a pittance of what they could currently earn as an [indie author]. Many midlist authors published by the Big 6 cannot afford to quit their day jobs because the publishers keep most of the royalties. Simply put, they want a piece of [the] pie, but they expect to get 75% of the pie.

I don't fault anyone who wants to be published by a Big 6 house.  I only suggest that [an author] examine the deal carefully before signing and weigh all the other considerations. If in the end you decide to take an offer, [an author should] attempt to limit the contract to just one book. A four book deal is to the benefit of the publisher, not the author. If [the] book is good, and sells well, they will grab anything [the author] produces. And if the book doesn't sell well, they won't publish the other three. There will always be some reason why they won’t accept it when [an author] attempts to deliver the second book of a four book deal. The publishers want to lock [an author] up in case they hit [it] big. But there's no reverse benefit. They are not committed to publishing even a second book. But publishing a single book that only sells a hundred copies will make you a 'professional' in the eyes of writers’ groups, where selling ten million eBooks through Amazon [unfortunately] won't.

I know that many [authors] have dreams of being picked up by a major publisher. But if [an author is] successful [on Kindle] and the money earned as a writer is important, I suggest that [authors] concentrate [their] energies on sales as an independent and forget the Big 6. If [an author’s] books are good, [they will] make a lot more money, and be able to quit [their] day job sooner.
You have a wonderful opportunity to excel as an [indie author]. Don't be so blinded by the glitter that you give up that status too quickly or too easily. I wish you every success in your writing endeavors.
(response posted originally on the KDP Forum by a poster we know only as “scribbler”)

So now how to do YOU way-in on the matter? If you became successful enough as an independent author to be approached by one of the Big 6 publishers,  would you take the publishing deal ?