Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Loyalty to One Publisher or Not?

Like I've mentioned before, here in Botswana and maybe even the whole of Africa, we writers don't work with agents. When I'm done with a book, I submit to a publisher. Of course if I want a publisher overseas I have to follow the agent route, but for now I don't see any reason to do that.
After my first book, I got a publisher that I was very loyal to. We've built up a good relationship and I still do a lot of writing for them, but that publisher has limitations. And too, there was a time when things got a bit rocky financially and I got a fright since all of my eggs were literally in one basket.

After that, I decided I would diversify. I would send every book (this so far has applied only to fiction) to a different publisher. I would look at what was best for that particular title. I've made mistakes in the past because of loyalty, so I didn't want that to happen again. As of now I have books either published, on their way to being published, or sitting at "yes we want this but we need a bit of time "-at six publishers.

I'm by nature quite loyal, but I realised after owning a business for ten years, not everyone respects that loyalty. Writing is a business. Yes, I will maintain my integrity but I need to make a living from my books. For the time being I think working with a few different publishers is working well for me. At the very least, I'm learning the ins and outs of this industry from many angles and that has got to be a good thing.


bonita said...

Lauri—Here being loyal is next to impossible. When I started writing on my own, albeit educational writing—there were 5 viable houses that published basal texts and ancillaries. Then came the great round of mergers and acquisitions. Now there are really only 2 text publishers. The same is pretty much true for kid's books too. There are some small houses, but the number of powerhouses has fallen to under 5.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Sounds like you made the right choice for your situation. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

As you say, writing is a business. I am sad to say that the loyalty of the publisher is often quite fickle, which sometimes pushes the writer in a similar direction. I think you must do what is best for you above all!!

Lauri said...

Bonita I find that hwol situation very demoralising. Competition between publishers is good for us writers too. Sort of why this whole Walmart/Amazon/Google thing is so problematic.

Elizabeth- waht about there? Does your agent shop your books everywhere or to one publisher?

Selma- I've learned the hard way to be selfish. Sometimes I feel bad it had to come to this but that's the way it is. This is how I make a living , I can't play around.