Signing with a Publisher

As any who read this blog know, I have a hard time with legacy book publishers. I truly believe they exploit authors (17.5 royalties, really?) and fans alike (ebooks costing more than print books?). Also, I think they're VCR salesmen in the time of DVDs. Print technology will soon go the same route as the video cassette and yet, instead of adapting, they cling to the videocassette like it were a life preserver.

So I will no doubt be called a hypocrite when I tell you I've signed one of my books with a publisher and optioned another.

But, this publisher is the only publisher I would ever have said "yes" to. It is Thomas & Mercer, a subsidiary of Amazon Publishing. And I cannot tell you how pleased I have been with them thus far. The royalty rates are out of this world, and when I send them an email with a concern I have, they actually respond.

In addition, I have a marketing team and several other perks. I can't release any of the details, but the deal is MUCH better than anything the legacy publishers have offered me.

I remember when I shopped White Angel Murder around to legacy publishers and literary agents. Only one showed any interest but when I sent him a manuscript he never responded. But I knew that book would be an absolute hit.

I indie published it and that book went on to sell somewhere in the realm of 150,000 copies and has been in the top 30 in the U.S. and the top 10 in the U.K.

Legacy publishers, despite their claims, cannot and do not predict bestsellers. They're terrible at picking winners. They're the poor loser at the racetrack in velour clothing with an unlit cigar dangling from their mouth, crusted with drool, as the last of their savings vanished when their horse came in last.

I read one such person in a New Yorker attack article who said Amazon may have algorithms and data, but there's a human element to it that traditional literary agents and publishers provide. What human element is that: screwing the authors?

Amazon's detractors are saying the company has signed books that haven't been hits: how many hits do traditional publishers have compared to the amount of books they put out? I'll wager less than 1% of the books they put out are bonafide hits. Can you think of any other industry, other than legacy publishers and literary agents, that would taut a 99% failure rate as success?

The author of this New Yorker article went on a diatribe about how poorly Amazon Publishing is doing. I was shocked. How could Amazon not be selling a lot of their books?

Well I looked into it, and this article and the data the author is using do not include ebook sales in those sales figures. Are you freaking kidding me? I bet Amazon sells one print book to every ten ebooks and they're not including ebooks when they're trying to evaluate whether Amazon Publishing is a success?

If those legacy publishers are going to attack Amazon, I guess they have to fudge the data to do it. I've dealt with a lot of companies and no one's been as gracious or author friendly as Amazon has. And to all those indie authors reading this blog, I will say again:


Not in this day and age when you can make 70% royalties publishing on your own through Amazon. If you think the legacy publisher is going to nurture you, forget it. They don't care about you. They care about James Patterson and their other hit authors. You're not going to get marketing money, you're not going to get support. You'll go from book signing to book signing, desperately trying to raise sales, and feel like you don't even have a publisher behind you.

Which brings me to why I signed with Thomas & Mercer.

I had read on Joe Konrath's excellent blog that Thomas & Mercer treated him very well and shot his book to the number one spot on the Kindle bestseller lists, so I thought selling them one book would be worth a try. And about the time I decided this, they contacted me and stated they loved The Neon Lawyer and would like to pick it up to republish under the Thomas & Mercer brand with their backing.

So far, I'm very impressed with them. We'll have to see how the sales go in November when it comes out, but I'm expecting big things (it's Amazon pushing an Amazon book after all).

Does this mean I'll give up indie pubbing my books? Never. I love the freedom of publishing how much I want how quickly I want. But I'm grateful to have this opportunity to experiment with Amazon and hopefully stomp some of the legacy published books in terms of sales.

I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes...

Photo courtesy of thephotoholic and

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  1. Good post, Victor! Thank for you this. It confirms my decision to no longer pursue "legacy" or traditional publishing for my book. I'm a veterinarian, and I wrote a "veterinary medical thriller" that all my beta readers loved. I did get an agent to look at the manuscript, and even though she said she liked the way I wrote, she didn't think she could sell it.

    Whatever. I finished it, published it on amazon (The Keys of Death). It has not yet taken off, but all the reviews are good and I'm confident there is an audience out there for my books. I'm almost done with my second veterinary medical thriller and can't wait to get it out there.

    Your success story is one of many examples of how the independent publishing movement is making it possible for authors snubbed by the trads to put their books out there and let readers decide if they are good or not!

    Thanks again -- and, a brief side note: I discovered your book Scourge while searching for a book cover designer for my next book. Carl at Extended Imagery does really great work and I think I'll probably go with him.

    Clare T. Walker

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