A Lesson Learned

I should start this off on a positive note. I had a book offer. It feels good to have had someone rate my fiction highly enough to make such an offer. It was for my horror novel Mr. Stinky. That did kind of surprise me. I hadn't expected to get an offer on that one ahead of the Patternmaker's Daughter. And it was from a legit publisher - one that does not charge the author a penny and pays actual royalties. All good.

Now you are probably expecting to hear the downside. I wouldn't have called this posting A Lesson Learned  if there wasn't a downside coming. Well there was one.

Now there are a couple of things I am not going to do. The first is name the publisher. The second is say a single bad thing about them. They have done nothing wrong whatsoever. I suppose in light of that I could but I am not going to. I will however tell you something about them (not enough for you to even make a guess on who they are though).

They are a small press who publisher in a range of genres. As I said they are a traditional publisher. They edit the book, sort out ISBNs etc and get the book out there. All good.

The problem for me came when I looked into the idea of having a small press book published in the US. I have a lawyer friend who was good enough to read the contract and give me some advice. She had a couple of concerns which the publisher sounded willing to negotiate on (or remove from the contract) so we could have got a bit closer. The one thing that worried her too much was the fact the contact would be enforceable under the laws of the state in which they operate. All of which makes sense - until a problem might happen and I would need a US lawyer etc.

Now, not a high likelihood but still present. I would be willing to go with it despite this if it wasn't for the second problem (and this is mine).

My book is parochially English. It is set in the Midlands between Solihull where I grew up and the East Midlands where I know live. These are not going to be places an average American would have heard of. No disgrace - most English people won't have heard of the place I live. They should know Solihull but I wouldn't put money on it.

As such it might not have the greatest appeal to American readers. Add to this living a few thousand miles from the market where the book is published and the appearances that can boost the sales of small press books aren't an option. This means it is not likely to sell all that many copies and I would not earn that much from the book.

Which presents me with my second problem. You see were that end of this issue I wouldn't be worried. I'm writing hoping to see one of my books published and people reading it. This would achieve that. Making a fortune from it is not my aim. (It would be nice; but not the be all and end all.)

However if I am paid in the US I am liable to pay US Income Tax. Cue the second conversation I had - with my accountant. Setting up the US Tax people stuff and administering it remotely is expensive. I'm fairly sure I would struggle to make enough money to pay for the admin cost.

I want to be published, yes. I don't mind not making a fortune from my writing, yes. But can I afford to subsidise my writing by paying more to handle paying US tax than I would make from the book? The simple answer is no. I have a mortgage to pay. If I have spare money enough to pay such a fee I would much rather pay that money off my mortgage and bring us that little bit closer to owning his house outright.

So this evening I have had to write an email to the publisher thanking them for their offer and the kindness of allowing me time to assess the offer but that I would not be able to take it up. That didn't feel good. To be honest it felt pretty shitty. I feel bad for them. They spent time reading my manuscript and must have felt they could make some money from publishing it. And from my perspective I no longer have a offer of publication.

I'm a year into this new writing effort and no further along. Now, before you moan it's only been a year and some people take several, I know. I started this thinking it might be years. I am still thinking it might be years. And I am still determined to keep going for it.

I will keep writing novels. I will keep submitting novels. However I think I might restrict myself to submitting to UK based small press publishers. If I sub to the USA it will be to agents and larger scale publishers. That way it will at least give me the chance of earning a decent amount if accepted - enough to cover the cost of doing it.

One last thing to report; if you are a believer in karma then today may well have backed up your belief. I have received three rejections in my email. Two of them are for the YA Fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter; the third for bawdy sf No Man's Land.

I hope you will forgive me for not writing anything this evening other than this blog entry. I am really not in the mood. Tomorrow though, I hope, will be a different matter. I want to try to maintain the momentum with this current WiP - my YA supernatural the Stairs Lead Down. And yes I know I said I was thinking of changing to the name of the novel to Steadfast Hall but I haven't.

I had an even split with people choosing between the two so I thought I would leave it as is and, should the miracle happen of someone wanting to publish it, I would ask their advice. For now though, I will concentrate on trying to get it finished in good time.

After all I have the idea of an epic science fiction series in my head trying to muscle it out of the way. I need to get it done asap so my brain can go back to concentrating on just one story.

And at some point I need to get some more submissions out there.


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