Tag Archives: Contract

Dear Mr./Ms. Publisher: May I have my rights back, please? Getting a Rights Reversion for Your Book.

Now Available from Jennifer M. Eaton

Cover Copyright MuseItUp Publishing

For the last three years, I’ve been scratching my head over the lack of sales for The First Day of the New Tomorrow. Even the success of Fire in the Woods did nothing to trigger interest in this little treasure trove of paranormal explosive happiness.

I volunteered for promotions, dropping the book down to $.99 for a short time, but nothing seemed to have a lasting effect.

In April, 2016, my contract was due to rollover. After long, hard deliberation, I decided to ask for my rights back.

The market is a very different place now than it was three years ago. In a world where so many people are placing full length books on sale for $.99, (or free) the novella format is really taking a hit.

I mean, I get it. I wouldn’t pay $2.50 for a novella when I could get a longer book for $.99. It really doesn’t make sense.

But writing that “Dear Publisher” letter was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Part of me likes seeing multiple titles available. It boosts my inner ego. But I had to be honest with myself. The truth was, nothing was happening with a story that I love. No one was reading it.

A story that is not read is like a puppy not getting any love.

It’s wrong, and I owe it to those characters and the world that I built to give them the chance to be read.

I couldn’t do that at the $2.50 price point.

PKO_0013466 sadThankfully, a few days after my request, my publisher agreed that due to the changing market, this was probably the best thing to do. There was no yelling, no ranting and raving, no challenge that I still have four months left in my contract. All of the sudden, The First Day of the New Tomorrow just started to disappear from distributor cyber-shelves. (Note: this is not always typical. I’ve heard of publishers holding on to rights until the end of the contract no matter the sales.)

Yes, having New Tomorrow leave distribution makes me sad, but now I have the power to offer this story to readers as I see fit. happy smileIt is already written and edited for publication. The hard part is done. Now I can set off on a new adventure … Hopefully where the story can be read by a wider market.

I hope it’s a fun ride.

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You can find Fire in the Woods at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

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Fulfilling your contract: So, what is an “option book” anyway?

For the past two weeks I have been working on the “option book” as required by my contract.

What is an option book?

My contract with Month9Books was for a three book series with an option for the fourth.  That means I agreed to write three complete novels. (Already done. Yay!) Once those are done, the publisher has the “option” to request a fourth book.

The next step in the process for me was to provide a summary for the fourth book (This will vary by publisher and by author/book. I have friends who have been asked for outlines, first chapters, first fifty pages, etc.)

So, in my mind, I figured they just wanted a rough idea of what I had in mind. After all, they have three books from me already, right? They are familiar with my writing style.

So what I did was write out a rough, fairly detailed outline.  This is very similar to how I would start any book … just hitting on the key points, figuring I would fill in all the “holes” as I write (Which is my normal process.)

Since I had two large signing events back to back weekends before this was due, I shot it off two weeks early so I could check something off my to-do list.  Yay! I felt accomplished!

Imagine my surprise when the next morning I got an email from Month9Books, asking for a phone meeting that same day.

Yikes!

Well… I found out that I hadn’t quite done my summary right. What they were looking for was a complete, highly detailed summary so they would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this would be a book they would want to contract even before I had written it.

So then started the conversation … Why did this happen?  What about this? Did you realize that this part contradicts that part? What does this scene even look like? Why? Who? Which? Huh? Etc, Etc, Etc…

As humiliating as this sounds, I found it incredibly useful.  My editor was able to see problems in the manuscript before I had even written it. (This is the kind of stuff my beta readers would see later and I would have to fix) She asked questions that got my wheels turning, and we came up with ideas together to strengthen scenes before they were even written, and come up with a few that weren’t even there yet.

Now I have pages and pages of notes to strengthen my story.  Total score.

Due to the extremely intricate nature of the book I am proposing, my next step is to submit a detailed timeline. Since a few things happen at the same time, she needs to see how the timelines run together, and how they intersect.  I have one month to do this.

This is a lot harder to do this that it might seem, since the book isn’t even written yet. Like I said earlier, I usually plot only major points in the story, and then I write each day trying to get my characters to that point.  A lot of my ideas come “on the fly”. Coming up with them when I’m not completely engrossed in the story?  Really, really hard.

Think GirlBut what this exercise is forcing me to do, is to really THINK about the story scenes, and how they interrelate.  I am finding that I need another scene here, another there. There is not enough time for this scene in this spot. I need to move it over here… and so on. I am really glad they asked for this exercise, because there is a lot to this story, and as she told me, “We need to nail this or it will bite us.” Nope, don’t wanna be bitten.

So, that’s what I’m working on at the moment. Once this is done, if they take the option, it will be interesting to see if this extremely detailed timeline, summary, and subsequent notes from our phone meeting help me to write faster, of if they will stifle my creative mojo.

How detailed a plan do you come up with before you start writing?

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Taking a deep breath and admitting “I can’t do it.”

“I can’t do it.”

Wow… coming from a neurotic, over-achiever-based upbringing, you would not believe how hard it was for me to type those words … or how hard it was for me to contact my publisher and ask for an extension.

When I was offered a three-book-deal for FIRE IN THE WOODS, I knew it came with some pretty serious deadlines.  But being the psycho I am, I took it as a challenge.

The first challenge was to come up with a concept for Book Two, outline, write the book, beta the book, polish and submit ALL WITHIN 4.5 MONTHS. (While promoting the high-speed release of book one)

Wow. 

But I made it! It was tight, but I did it.

However, in order to make the deadline for book three, I needed to start the next book during the beta-reading process of book 2.

That DID NOT happen.

But I thought I would be okay.  I still had four months to write book three. (Same deal: come up with a concept, write the book, outline, write the book, beta the book, polish and submit)  Heck, it was only two less weeks. I could pull that off, right?

WRONG.

In act two, I got hung up. The writing came slowly. It was not writer’s block, per say, but I just SLOWED DOWN.  On such a tight deadline, it killed me.

Did I finish the book on time?  Yes–and no.

I did finish the first draft two days before the deadline, but it was just that — a first draft. No one had read it but me.

I am in no way vain enough to think I can write a perfect first draft in four months and just hit the submit button. Nope. No way.

Enter my beta-reading army, who had already been through the first fifty pages by then (I do not recommend sending out part of your book to beta before you are done – I did this only out of necessity)

PKO_0013466 sadAnyway… These people have lives of their own, and it was unrealistic to ask them to finish a concise developmental edit and proofread in a few days.

So I had to take a deep breath,

suck it up,

and ask my publisher for an extension.

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I now have an extra month to get the final draft in.

Whew! What a relief…

Until my bubble burst and my edits for Book Two came back.

 Both novels are now due on the same day.

Seriously

Arghhh! PictureHa!  No pressure.

No pressure at all!

The good news is the developmental changes are minor for book two. I actually let them sit for a week while I finished reviewing beta comments for the third book.

And at this point, I firmly believe I will be handing both books over with a smile in three weeks.

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Anyway… Lessons learned:

  1. Wow. I can seriously write fast if I need to.
  2. Don’t make myself write that fast if I don’t have to. It made it “not fun”
  3. The relationships I’ve made along the way have totally paid off. I have friends who are wildly talented and willing to help. (And now I get to see their work before the rest of the world to pay back the favor. Woo-hoo!)

Soooo

Sooooo… that’s where I am.  A little bump in the road, but I don’t think it is a production-stopper.

Fire-in-the-Woods-Cover 3DA year ago, if you told me there would be three FIRE IN THE WOODS books I would have laughed at you… and here they are. And even though one is not completely polished yet, I am pretty proud of them. There is a whole lot of trouble that two teenagers can get into if I put my mind to it.

How’s your writing been going?

JenniFer_EatonF

The Road to Publication #1: The Contract

Wow, did I TOTALLY not expect to be writing a heading like that so early this year.

This will be a series of posts, but it will most-likely not be weekly.  Honestly, I don’t know everything that’s involved yet, or how often I’ll even have anything I can tell you.

Why am I writing this?

I realize that I am in a position of extreme interest to most of you.  As always, my mistakes, or my good fortune in this case, are an open book for you all to learn from.

To start with… the contract.  Wow.  Nothing makes things more real than seven scary pages filled with very serious sounding words like “Breach” “Grant” “Term” and “Indemnification”

Yikes!

Luckily enough for me, part of my day job is reading contracts, so this wasn’t as scary as it could have been.  I would highly suggest that if you DON’T have a background in contracts, or have a clear understanding of the publishing business, to bring your contract to a lawyer to get it explained.

Luckily for me, J.Taylor is a great publisher.  Their contract is concise and fair, and there are things in there to protect me and my family, as well as them.  Everything that I wanted was already there in the contract.  Whew!

Be prepared that there is a lot of negative stuff in the contract.  This is because the document is made to protect both sides if something “bad” happens.  It can be a little daunting to read all the stuff that can go wrong, but don’t worry.  This is just part of business, and is standard for almost any kind of business agreement.

What I really liked is J.Taylor Publishing softened the blow of the contract with a pretty “Welcome packet” wonderfully written with an air of excitement outlining some of the things that they will expect of me, and all of the great services that they offer.

After all I have heard about publishers dropping marketing in the lap of the author, leaving them to flounder on their own, I am tickled to find out that My publisher will be creating a marketing plan, and will do everything in their power to make sure the work is a success.