Blurred Lines: a guest post by David Jackson
To many minds there are two clear and distinct routes to publication. The ‘traditional’ path is to find an agent who will then represent you and approach publishers. The alternative is to self-publish, where you do not only the writing yourself, but practically everything else that follows. In this latter scenario, why would you even entertain the notion of going to all the effort involved in finding an agent? Why throw away 15% or whatever of your hard-earned profits when you, the author, are doing all the work?
Sometimes, though, the distinction is not as clear-cut as I’ve just made out. Sometimes the lines are blurred. Take my own case as an example.
By the time I signed up with Oli Munson at AM Heath as my agent, I already had three traditionally published novels under my belt. The first of those, Pariah, had been Highly Commended in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards, had received rave reviews from readers and in the media, and had enjoyed some success in the selling of its audio and translation rights. The follow-up novels (The Helper and Marked) had also been favourably received.
The vital missing ingredient, though, was exposure. I just wasn’t reaching audiences in the numbers I wanted (and, after all, isn’t that why most of us write?). I won’t go into all the reasons why this situation might have arisen, but what I will say is that I wasn’t about to surrender lightly (‘never give up’ is one of those pieces of advice that should be engraved on the backs of every author’s eyelids). One of the conclusions we drew from this experience was that I should embark upon the creation of a new series of novels, and I am currently well into writing the first of those, with the hope that Oli will be able to work his magic when it comes to finding it a good home.
The publication business moves slowly, however, with authors often completing one book just as the previous one appears in print. For me, this meant that the need to change tack with regard to my writing became apparent only after I had written the fourth novel in my original series featuring New York detective Callum Doyle. The question was what to do with that book. I didn’t want to throw a year’s work away, and Oli and I both knew that it would prove almost impossible to interest a publisher in a mid-series character when they didn’t have rights to the backlist.
An obvious solution would be to self-publish. And in doing that I could have taken matters entirely into my own hands, putting the book out there without even discussing it with my agent. A discourteous and selfish plan, perhaps, but surely in my best interests?
Well, no, actually. And here’s where I come back to the subject of those blurred lines. You see, there are huge numbers of authors competing for a slice of the self-publishing pie. Even with my existing following of readers, getting noticed in that crowd would be an immensely difficult task without a bit of a leg-up.
When publishing for Amazon Kindle, that leg-up comes in the form of something called the White Glove Program, which offers authors a number of benefits, not least of which is increased promotion. Mark Edwards published The Magpies under this scheme – a book that has sold in the gazillions. He tweeted recently that the three biggest-selling Kindle authors last year all achieved their success via the WGP.
So why doesn’t every author sign up for the WGP? What makes one eligible for the scheme?
The answer is an agent. That’s right – it is the very fact of having an agent that makes WGP enrolment possible. But of course that is not the limit of Oli’s involvement. In addition to discussions with Amazon over fine detail, he is able to pursue other publication avenues. If the e-book does well, then I imagine he will be looking to sell on the paperback rights, for example. This is just the starting point of a new and exciting venture, but only because I have an agent (a great one, too) on my side.
I’ll leave you with some details of the book itself. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. We’d love to know what you think.
Buy CRY BABY by David Jackson here
It’s every mother’s nightmare – the abduction of her baby.
That’s how it starts for Erin Vogel when she is attacked and left unconscious in her apartment. When she awakes, it is to find that Georgia, her six-month-old daughter, has been taken.
But Erin is given a chance to get Georgia back. At an unthinkable price.
Like most mothers, she has always said she would do anything for her child. Now the strength of that bond is about to be put to the ultimate test.
And when her actions arouse the interest of a certain Detective Callum Doyle, one thing is inevitable: a confrontation that will be as explosive as it is unforgettable.
From the highly acclaimed author of Pariah, The Helper and Marked comes a nerve-shredding novel that questions the line we draw between good and evil.