Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing for Multiple Publishers

Each time I see Beth Cornelison's signature line, I have a good mind to lie down from exhaustion ;) How does she write for so many publishers? And win so many awards while she's at it? Please welcome Multi-published Author Beth Cornelison.

Looking at my publishing credits might lead one to believe I'm a smorgasbord author (as one friend put it). I've done a little bit of everything, publishing in many formats and with several publishers. This scattershot approach to publishing was not my original intent, but along the way, each publishing choice was, at the time, what met my needs for my books. Before I tell you what it is like for me to write for several publishers, let me first explain briefly how I ended up with six publishers in eight years.

My publishing story isn't much different than that of most published authors. I wrote for several years, submitting and getting rejected as I learned the ropes in the publishing world and honed my craft. Along the way, I wrote a variety of books of different lengths, different styles, different focuses as my wandering muse gave me a myriad ideas to test out. While Silhouette Intimate Moments was where I made my first print-publisher sale (second overall sale) and where my publishing focus has been since then, I had stories that didn't work for the shorter category line.

My single title romantic suspense Chasing A Dream (2000 Golden Heart finalist) was the first non-category book I shopped to single title houses. I received good feedback from these publishers, but because CHASING A DREAM had been epublished in 2000 (publisher 1), many of the New York publishing houses were reluctant to take it on. Five Star Press, however, buys only selected rights, and I was able to sell the hard cover rights to the Five Star Expressions line for publication in 2006 (publisher 3). By keeping my audiobook rights, I was able to sell the audio rights for CHASING A DREAM last fall, as well, to Books In Motion (publisher 4). Five Star met my need for Chasing A Dream, but as a publisher of primarily library books, distribution and marketing was limited.

So a couple years later when I was looking for a home for my single title romantic suspense UNDER FIRE, I suggested to my agent that we submit to Samhain Publishing. Having epublished before, I had been keeping an eye on the growing epublishing market and had talked with several epubbed friends about what they liked and disliked about their publishers. Samhain had several things going for it that I liked— primarily their print release program and a reputation for publishing books with elements outside the normal parameters of books published by New York houses. So for UNDER FIRE, a book that had too much suspense for this publisher and too much romance for that publisher, Samhain (publisher #5) fit the bill for UNDER FIRE.

Not long after that, I met Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks at a conference. I liked what she had to say about Sourcebooks and their unflagging support of their authors and emphasis on marketing. I'd heard great things from other Sourcebooks authors about the publisher, so I took an appointment with Deb. I pitched a book I'd written years ago, one of those not-right-for-Silhouette-Intimate-Moments books I wrote when I was still figuring out what I wanted to focus on (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense). She loved the pitch and the book, and I ended up with another publisher (# 6).

At present, I'm actively publishing with three different publishers. And how's that working for me? It's great...and sometimes chaotic. While it is wonderful to have several avenues to reach readers, publish books and get to know other authors and editors, juggling multiple deadlines, line edits, author blogs, and marketing demands can be daunting at times. Publisher X couldn't care less what deadlines and edits I have due for publishers Y and Z. They need their edits back when they need their edits back so that they can keep their production schedule. Publisher Y needs their art fact sheets when they need their art fact sheets regardless of what author blogs I'm scheduled to write for that week. Keeping three sets of deadlines and publishing schedules straight can be a juggling act as well.

As far as royalty statements from three different publishers, coming in at different times of the year... well, thank goodness for my awesome agent and the staff at the Knight Agency who keep financial matters straight for me! Finances are not my forte.

Writing for multiple publishers offers me first person knowledge of how different aspects of the evolving publishing industry work. By epublishing UNDER FIRE (now also available in trade paperback), I learned a great deal about issues unique to digital publishing and the current emphasis on online marketing through blogs and reader-oriented email loops. For example, ebook piracy is a growing concern for ebook authors, but ebook authors are not the only targets of this online form of theft. Print published authors, whose books are being reformatted to be sold through Amazon for the Kindle, are also finding copies of their books available for electronic download through these pirate site— whether or not their print publisher has officially released an ebook version.

Publishing through Five Star taught me a great deal about how libraries choose books for their inventory. (A good review through a national trade journal or patron requests helps a lot!)

So my experiences with multiple publishers are giving me a hands-on tutorial in the many aspects of publishing and marketing of books.

As with any venture, balancing the needs and schedules of more than one publisher is a mixed bag. While it can get chaotic, I love the broader audience I'm reaching, the industry contacts I'm making, and the education and experience I'm gaining. Writing for several publishers and publishing in multiple formats (Audio, ebook, trade paper, hardcover, category and mass market) was what worked for me.

Is it right for you? Only you can say.

Award-winning author Beth Cornelison writes from her home in North Louisiana where she lives with her husband, one son and a constantly changing number of cats. Her romantic suspense UNDER FIRE recently won the grand prize for best overall novel in the Lories Best Published Novel contest as well as finaling in several other contests in 2009. Watch for three new releases from Beth Cornelison in Fall 2009- HEALING LUKE (September), THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER (October) and STRANDED WITH THE BRIDESMAID (part of the BLACKOUT AT CHRISTMAS anthology- November).


Donna Cunningham, MSW said...

HI, Beth, I found your article via a Google alert. I've been wrestling with ebook piracy for a year now, and I'm finally getting a handle on it. I just finished a detailed how-to article on combatting piracy that I'd be happy to share with any of your readers who are dealing with the same thing. To ask for a copy, write to
Donna Cunningham

Donnell said...

Beth, thanks for sharing your insights with readers. Your publishing career is an education and inspiration to every author out there!

Terry Odell said...

As I'm with 3 publishers myself, I can appreciate how there's no real 'one size fits all.' I love that an author doesn't have to feel restricted to writing the same type of story elements for every book.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Okay, I'm still looking for the first publisher, so I feel a little like a slacker :))

However, I can see that depending on the story, a different publisher would easily be in order. I'm finishing a romantic suspense now, but have an idea for another one that would be suitable for Steeple Hill's historical line. I think you have to write the story and then find its home! Sounds like you've done a good job of that.

Donnell said...

Terry, I love your one size fits all comment. This is so true when trying to fit your story to the various lines.

Debbie. I can easily see you going the way Beth has.

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Beth. I didn't know this about you. I only knew you wrote for Silhouette and loved JACK. Amazing story. Gives me hope.

Autumn Jordon
2009 Golden Heart Finalist

Mary Marvella said...

Beth and Terry, you are amazing. I so want to be where you are some day. Guess I need to work harder!

Beth C said...

Hi all-
Thanks for all the nice comments.
And yes, Autumn, I do take breaks for all the writing to watch Jack!! :-) (24 in case y'all are wondering!)

Mary and Debbie- Stick to your guns! Determination and persistence is the key!

And Howdy to Terry! We run in a lot of the same circles... great to see you here and congrats on all your success!

I'll check back here later. Take care , Beth C

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

I don't know if it's right for me or not, but I'm about to find out. I now have contracts with two e-publishers, and my current WIP is aimed at Harlequin Intrigue. Whether or not the half completed WIP finds a home at HI is yet to be determined.

Donnell said...

Marie-Nicole, I wish you the very best of luck!!! ~ Donnell

By the way, I'd appreciate a drumroll, please, I finished the book from hell at 2 a.m. this morning ;)

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Thanks, Donnell. And congrats on finishing the book from hell. I know just how good that feels.

Leslie Ann said...


So, what are you going to do to celebrate? Sleep?


Beth C said...

Congrats on finishing the book Donnell!

And good luck to Marie-Nicole with HI!

I hope y'all will join me tomorrow on the Sourcebooks Casablanca Authors blog for the Launch Party for HEALING LUKE! Whoot!
Happy reading, Beth C.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Thanks, Beth. Good luck with your launch party for Healing Luke.