Release from a Contract

That the publishing world is undergoing dramatic change is old news, although Hugh Howey in his blog recently predicted it will continue to change. Amazon’s new pay-per-page is just one example. (How’s that working out for you, by the way?)

One of the results of those changes is that many writers are eager to celebrate the end of a publishing contract. They want to take back their rights and indie publish. (Most experts advise that you do have an end date in your publishing contracts.) Some writers have readers eager to finally get their hands on a mid-series book that’s gotten hard to find. Others have the next book ready, but their publisher suddenly terminates the series. It is hard to find someone to pick up a series mid-stream. I had that experience. Some folks have landed a new press. Betsy Dornbusch just announced a new home for her series. (Congrats.) Others want to take the reins themselves.

Some authors who have published multiple books and are well established share this eagerness for release. They want to get their backlist back (hmm) and put it out themselves, changing that 7% or 10% or maybe 15% to 70% royalties (if it’s on Amazon, for example). As Dean Wesley Smith said the old model of publishing treats fiction like produce. It can’t stay on the shelves very long before it gets stale. But the new model lets writers have their books available all the time. When readers discover a new author they like, they’ll often read all of their books. Many want to start at the beginning of the series. They don’t worry that the first one might have been published quite a while ago. It’s not like wilted lettuce to them.

“O brave new world that has such people in’t!” Or book, Willie, books.


Author: Theresa Crater

Award-winning author Theresa Crater brings ancient temples, lost civilizations and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. In The Star Family, a Gothic mansion holds a secret spiritual group and a 400-year-old ritual that must be completed to save the day. The shadow government search for ancient Atlantean weapons in the fabled Hall of Records in Under the Stone Paw and fight to control ancient crystals sunk beneath the sea in Beneath the Hallowed Hill. Other novels include School of Hard Knocks and God in a Box, both exploring women in historical context. Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The most recent include “The Judgment of Osiris” and “Bringing the Waters.” Theresa has also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches meditation, as well as creative writing and British lit.

8 thoughts on “Release from a Contract”

  1. Did you see the story Kristen Nelson shared recently? One of her clients had a backlist title that went out of print, self-published it, and it’s now been optioned for TV. Wouldn’t have been possible less than ten years ago. A brave new world indeed.


  2. Thanks, Kait. I agree Sue & Diane. We’ll see what shakes out.
    Mary, I should add Kristen’s blog to my daily reads. That’s amazing. She’s really staying on top of all the changes and being flexible with her clients.


  3. I can imagine that some Bright Young Thing could make her own rules and work these unknowns to her advantage. But it seems to me the opportunity to sink back into the primordial ooze is now exponential. How easy it would be for a big publisher to sign a writer not to market her work but to suppress it in favor of some other writer’s work. I read one of Hugh Howey’s posts and it seems that in our genre, independent publishers are gaining in the market. At this point in time, it appears the independents equate their writers’ success with their own. This is a good thing.


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