Author Topic: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well  (Read 1890 times)  

Offline markpauloleksiw

  • Status: Jane Austen-10011
  • ***
  • Posts: 389
  • Gender: Male
  • Canada
    • View Profile
    • Mark Paul Oleksiw's Website
Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
« on: December 01, 2020, 07:22:37 am »
This is from Jane Friedman's twitter and if she is worried, everyone should be looking to go the trad route.

Growing trend is that authors are finding their latest works getting rejected by agents IF their previous works did not sell well (not defined).

Basically, to get a deal now...more and more...you need a track record in bookstores which is less and less likely.

Her view is the publishing world is going back to standards of 10 to 20 years ago!!!

Mark

KBoards.com

  • Advertisement
  • ***

    Offline kathc2

    • Status: Dr. Seuss-10022
    • *
    • Posts: 13
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #1 on: December 01, 2020, 10:57:17 am »
    Yes, this is the way it used to be in traditional publishing. If your book doesn't do well, then your publisher drops you. Even if the lack of sales is nothing to do with the book itself. There's an old story about a train derailment delaying delivery of books--and those authors being dropped later.

    Online ShayneRutherford

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5343
    • Toronto, Ontario
      • View Profile
      • My Website
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #2 on: December 01, 2020, 12:27:00 pm »
    This is from Jane Friedman's twitter and if she is worried, everyone should be looking to go the trad route.

    Growing trend is that authors are finding their latest works getting rejected by agents IF their previous works did not sell well (not defined).

    Basically, to get a deal now...more and more...you need a track record in bookstores which is less and less likely.

    Her view is the publishing world is going back to standards of 10 to 20 years ago!!!

    Mark

    What is from Jane Friedman's Twitter? Is there a quote? A link to an article?

    Also, I hardly think that just because she's worried that means everyone should rush back to the trad submission-go-round.
             

    Offline markpauloleksiw

    • Status: Jane Austen-10011
    • ***
    • Posts: 389
    • Gender: Male
    • Canada
      • View Profile
      • Mark Paul Oleksiw's Website
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #3 on: December 01, 2020, 01:44:37 pm »
    "In the last few months, I've heardway more often than usualthat agents will refuse to take on a new project by authors whose prior books haven't sold well. I see this as a weak form of rejection, an excuse really, but it's coming up so frequently, I'm starting to worry."- Jane Friedman

    The above is from her twitter feed. Jane is an expert on trad and self-publishing industry.

    My own experience (about 4 years ago)...I talked to an agent when I was naively new to all this. I assumed when you got an agent it was a lifetime contract type deal...I was told if your book does not sell 5,000 copies...you are done and good luck finding another agent.

    Mark
    « Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 07:25:33 am by markpauloleksiw »

    Offline Some Random Guy

    • Status: Jane Austen-10011
    • ***
    • Posts: 448
    • Gender: Male
    • Planet Earth
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #4 on: December 01, 2020, 02:02:57 pm »
    "In the last few months, I've heardway more often than usualthat agents will refuse to take on a new project by authors whose prior books haven't sold well. I see this as a weak form of rejection, an excuse really, but it's coming up so frequently, I'm starting to worry."- Jane Friedman

    The above is from her twitter feed. Jane is an expert on trad and self-publishing industry.

    My own experience (about 4 years ago)...I had an agent when I was told new to all this. I assumed when you got an agent it was a lifetime contract type deal...I was told if your book does not sell 5,000 copies...you are done and good luck finding another agent.

    Mark

    And this should worry self-pubbed authors why? The trad route is utterly irrelevant to those of us making a good go on our own.

    Offline CassieL

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke-10014
    • *****
    • Posts: 2452
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #5 on: December 01, 2020, 02:41:26 pm »
    It's my understanding that trade pub has been that way for a long time. When I started writing seriously about a decade ago there was a lot of talk about the death of the midlist authors. Basically, you get a publishing deal, they give you a shot at selling, you don't sell, goodbye. Some authors could have another chance if they reinvented themselves, usually in a new genre and with a new pen name. The issue was that bookstores would look at Author A's sales on their last book and then order based on the sales of that last book and that number would go down with each release unless an author caught on.

    What any of that has to do with self-publishing I really don't know. For those who think self-publishing is some path to trade pub, that's pretty rare. You either need to be killing it self-publishing already or you need to go to them with something completely new and different that blows their socks off just like a new writer would. Especially since self-pub generally has such poor print sales relatively speaking compared to trade pub titles.

    8 Pen Names. Genres: Non-fiction, Speculative Fiction, Romance.

    Online ShayneRutherford

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5343
    • Toronto, Ontario
      • View Profile
      • My Website
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #6 on: December 01, 2020, 02:46:02 pm »
    "In the last few months, I've heardway more often than usualthat agents will refuse to take on a new project by authors whose prior books haven't sold well. I see this as a weak form of rejection, an excuse really, but it's coming up so frequently, I'm starting to worry."- Jane Friedman

    Thank you.

    It actually makes a lot of sense, though. If an agent has two authors that they're thinking about offering representation to, and one has no publishing history and the other has several published books and none of them are selling, what incentive does the agent have to chose the author who isn't selling well over the one who is brand new and untarnished by a poor sales history?

    Also, I don't know how you read that quote and took from it that everyone should be looking to go the trad route. It doesn't say anything about trad vs self-publishing, and having had a chance to read the actual quote, I think it's far more likely that the authors who are getting rejections are likely trad authors with a poor trad sales record. As in, the agent already represents said trad author, but because their sales aren't great, the agent won't rep the new project because they think they'll have a harder time selling it.


    The above is from her twitter feed. Jane is an expert on trad and self-publishing industry.

    Judging by her blog, she's an expert on trad publishing.


    My own experience (about 4 years ago)...I had an agent when I was told new to all this. I assumed when you got an agent it was a lifetime contract type deal...I was told if your book does not sell 5,000 copies...you are done and good luck finding another agent.

    Yeah, not so much. The agent only gets paid when they sell your work, so if your work doesn't sell, they're not going to hang around for very long.

             

    Offline Trioxin 245

    • Status: Jane Austen-10011
    • ***
    • Posts: 282
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #7 on: December 02, 2020, 01:34:57 am »
    I don't see the problem. If I hire someone to increase sales and they don't deliver, why would I want to extend their contract? How many music groups bombed and went no where?

    Authors get so emotional/close to their work, they forget this is a business. Name any other job where people don't meet expectations, complain about not getting another chance and earn sympathy?


    Offline Carol (was Dara)

    • Status: Harvey Chute-10024
    • *********
    • Posts: 12200
    • Gender: Female
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #8 on: December 02, 2020, 02:29:33 am »
    When I was trying to break into trad publishing about a decade ago, it was commonly said that poor sales on previous books could drag down your career and prevent future contracts. Some "failed" authors changed pen names over it, to cut loose a bad sales history and start fresh as a "debut" author again. Since that's kinda always been the case, I assume Jane Friedman is simply commenting that the current publishing environment is even tougher now than then.

    From an author's point of view, that sucks, especially in cases where low sales were partly due to little promotional support from the publisher. But from a publisher's POV, not looking at sales numbers is a good way to go out of business. Personally, I wouldn't want my livelihood in the hands of a company that didn't make smart decisions that keep them and their authors (the ones who are selling) afloat. A trad author's best hope for a long career is to put out profitable books, just like a self-publisher.

    Online Decon

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5276
      • View Profile
      • Declan Conner, Blog
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #9 on: December 02, 2020, 02:33:06 am »
    Nothing new in this, it's always happened. No point flogging a dead horse as they say in trad pub terms.

    They can simply turn to self publishing as many have and make a success of it, or not.


    Scorpion ebooks: Full length  thrillers with a sting in the tale. All enrolled in KU & Prime.
    Declan Conner | blog

    Offline Doglover

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5801
    • Gender: Female
    • Cambridge, United Kingdom
    • If you want real love, buy a dog.
      • View Profile
      • Margaret Brazear Author
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #10 on: December 02, 2020, 04:54:40 am »
    And this should worry self-pubbed authors why? The trad route is utterly irrelevant to those of us making a good go on our own.
    So glad you said that. I thought I'd missed something.


    The past is another country; they do things differently there
    Margaret Brazear | Website | Blog | Facebook | Newsletter

    Offline jb1111

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke-10014
    • *****
    • Posts: 2045
    • PNW US
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #11 on: December 02, 2020, 05:12:42 am »
    I don't think it's completely irrelevant information. It affects publishing, period.

    I think trad pubbing is getting the squeeze, because of the overall economy, and the overall publishing economy. And many of those formerly trad-pubbed authors will join the indie ranks, which will be more competition -- which, in itself, shouldn't scare anyone. Competition is competition.

    Online Decon

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe-10016
    • *******
    • Posts: 5276
      • View Profile
      • Declan Conner, Blog
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #12 on: December 02, 2020, 07:54:10 am »
    I don't think it's completely irrelevant information. It affects publishing, period.

    I think trad pubbing is getting the squeeze, because of the overall economy, and the overall publishing economy. And many of those formerly trad-pubbed authors will join the indie ranks, which will be more competition -- which, in itself, shouldn't scare anyone. Competition is competition.

    It's always been that way. Just because someone has a contract with an option for a second book, it's always depended on the prior book before selling, or you get cut loose.

    The only caveat is that it works its way to mid-listers, editors, and other, staff, together with amalgamations of imprints etc when times are hard, the last event in 2008 with the recession, and now with Covid and bookstoe sales down.

    It's not a new trend as the article says, its a well-trodden business path trad authors tread

    Trad publishers are not a charity and never have been. Why would a bookstore take a chance on an author who they've already tried and failed to make profit on taking up valuable bookstore shelf space. Put yourself in their shoes, then work it up the chain. Cutting authors is common sense.

    Fortunately as, self-publishers, it doesn't matter how many books don't sell, we can go ahead and publish  that next one.
    « Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 04:25:28 pm by Decon »


    Scorpion ebooks: Full length  thrillers with a sting in the tale. All enrolled in KU & Prime.
    Declan Conner | blog

    Offline Simon Haynes

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke-10014
    • *****
    • Posts: 2392
      • View Profile
      • spacejock.com.au
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #13 on: December 02, 2020, 01:58:57 pm »
    I know two or three trad-pubbed authors (personally, not hearsay) who had a publishing contract for a three book series, only to see it canned after two. This was in the early 2000s.

    Nothing new about publishers dropping books & series. Nothing new about authors repeatedly coming back with a new pen name, either. It's how the industry works. Name = brand, and if the brand is on the nose you change the logo and try again with a new product.

     

    Also yWriter, free novel-writing software for Windows PCs. (Mac version in progress).

    Offline Tony Rabig

    • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle-10007
    • ****
    • Posts: 608
    • Gender: Male
    • Kansas
    • Just some guy
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #14 on: December 02, 2020, 04:30:21 pm »
    The book is something like 20 years old now, but the opening chapters of Donald Westlake's THE HOOK do a nice job of laying out the situation.  And if you like a nice dark suspense novel it's well worth reading the whole thing -- think STRANGERS ON A TRAIN meets the bookbiz.

    Bests,
    Tony Rabig

     
    Contemporary fantasy with a Twilight Zone feel.

    Offline nightwork

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 125
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #15 on: December 02, 2020, 07:42:55 pm »
    Growing trend is that authors are finding their latest works getting rejected by agents IF their previous works did not sell well (not defined).

    Basically, to get a deal now...more and more...you need a track record in bookstores which is less and less likely.

    Her view is the publishing world is going back to standards of 10 to 20 years ago!!!

    Mark

    don't understand why this is a problem, if you don't sell well, agents work on commission, sure, you will likely be rejected if your career collapses

    it's fine, take what you learned & move into self-publishing if need be

    i'd rather a book flopped after a publisher paid me an advance than a book flopped after i self-funded it

    there's nothing wrong w/ trying for a trad deal & if it doesn't work out, no harm, no foul

    plus what i learned from being edited by actual editors who weren't selling me services & thus didn't tiptoe around my feelings-- the value of that was worth more than money
    « Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 07:45:46 pm by nightwork »

    Offline ShawnaReads

    • Status: Lewis Carroll-10005
    • **
    • Posts: 145
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #16 on: December 02, 2020, 08:37:45 pm »
    I know two or three trad-pubbed authors (personally, not hearsay) who had a publishing contract for a three book series, only to see it canned after two. This was in the early 2000s.

    There are two intended trilogies (from a bit later than that) that I really, really enjoyed, only for both of them to end after two books, completely unfinished, and neither author has gone ahead and published the third book herself. (I just checked on one, and she said that she wants to do it at some vague point in the future. The other, who knows?) This is so, so frustrating as a reader. I really wish authors who found themselves in this situation would remember their readers and put the last book out there anyway. They already know it has an audience if people are asking them for it. (And I know contracts can make this difficult, but that's not always the case--and it's a good reason to make sure your trad contracts don't prevent you from doing that kind of thing.)

    Offline jb1111

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke-10014
    • *****
    • Posts: 2045
    • PNW US
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #17 on: December 02, 2020, 09:15:55 pm »
    I looked up the tweet thread in question, and Jane Friedman said she's been hearing of this trend "way more often than usual", which implies that there may be more to the general issue than authors having projects rejected because of apparent poor sales. 

    Offline spacedin

    • Status: Dr. Seuss-10022
    • *
    • Posts: 15
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #18 on: December 04, 2020, 07:02:46 am »
    "In the last few months, I've heardway more often than usualthat agents will refuse to take on a new project by authors whose prior books haven't sold well. I see this as a weak form of rejection, an excuse really, but it's coming up so frequently, I'm starting to worry."- Jane Friedman

    The above is from her twitter feed. Jane is an expert on trad and self-publishing industry.

    My own experience (about 4 years ago)...I talked to an agent when I was naively new to all this. I assumed when you got an agent it was a lifetime contract type deal...I was told if your book does not sell 5,000 copies...you are done and good luck finding another agent.

    Mark

    5,000 copies? Hah. When I worked in trad publishing in the '90s, the publisher I worked for dropped a series after book 3 because each book in the series had sold "only" 30,000 copies. The editor, btw, was 100% behind this author and the series. But the publisher didn't care. The series was considered a failure.

    Offline unkownwriter

    • Status: Emily Dickinson-10017
    • *******
    • Posts: 7599
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #19 on: December 05, 2020, 11:47:54 am »
    It's been that way for decades. Nothing new, except maybe it's getting worse. Used to be (from all that research I did back in the 70s and 80s), you got a few chances to keep going. The publishing houses used to build up an author. As the business changed, it started getting to you have maybe two chances, then it was mostly one, which is about how it's been at least five years.

    Anyway, unless a self publisher is planning to try to get a regular publishing contract, it really doesn't mean much to us. There will be another influx of wanna-be writers coming in, or a rush of mid-level authors and below trying self publishing, but that's nothing new, either. And most of them are going to find self publishing isn't easy, and probably drop out -- after bemoaning how much of a lie it is. :\

    Offline Crayola

    • Status: Madeleine L'Engle-10006
    • **
    • Posts: 63
      • View Profile
    Re: Authors Getting Rejected if Previous Books Did Not Sell Well
    « Reply #20 on: December 06, 2020, 10:38:52 pm »
    AFAIK, it's always been like this. 

    I'm established in my genre and self publish... Yet I took a chance once when I was contacted by somebody from a big pub who wanted me to write a series for them.  I was skeptical, but wanted to find out... and you know, maybe feel more validated?  I signed a contract for one book with giving them the option of first refusal for the rest. You know what I found out?

    Apparently my book sold very well for them.  So well, they wanted me to immediately sign on two more contracts for more books.  My problem?  I lost about 30-50k by going with trad pub.  The rates are different, their accounting is amazingly obfuscated, they hold a significant chunk back for print runs in case of returns etc.  Not to mention they priced my ebook and paperback right out of the market.  There is more, but needless to say, I think I would have done much better if it had been self pub.  I turned down their offer and went back to what I was doing previously.

    The reason or moral of the story?  Even if you sell well with trad pub, are you really any further ahead?  In my case, I wasn't.  Getting found out because I had a sales record that made them confident they'd make money didn't work out so well for me.  I'm not anti-trad pub by the way, but it just isn't for me.  I can totes see if folks don't have a strong sales record that they'd hesitate on somebody.  They want to make money too, just like you and I.

    KBoards.com

    • Advertisement
    • ***