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Crossover Deals from Self-Publishing to Traditional

7 January 2013

From Dean Wesley Smith:

As I have been saying for some time, the indie side of publishing will slowly become a major way into traditional publishing. And a way with power that allows a writer to negotiate a better contract.

But up until this morning I didn’t have any real evidence on that other than a few news articles about the large or different books that started indie and went traditional and a few friends it had happened to.

Then this morning Publishers Marketplace gave out their information about six figure deals in publishing that were reported to them. Combining nonfiction, children’s, and fiction, there were about 300 six figure deals reported to Publisher’s Marketplace. (There were a ton more, of course, since most deals are not reported.)

Then Publisher’s Marketplace followed with the line:

“As everyone knows, originally self-published books made for a number of high-profile crossover deals in 2012–though in total numbers, we recorded 45 such deals in all.”

Of the 300 or so six figure deals that were reported to them in 2012, 45 were from books that started off self-published.

Indie publishing is now a clear route in.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

Dean Wesley Smith, The Business of Writing

13 Comments to “Crossover Deals from Self-Publishing to Traditional”

  1. Very true! I think Dean is right on with this. I think pulling from a proven property makes much more business sense for Publishers than taking a wild guess from the query pile or referrals.

    Now, whether indies will WANT to go Traditional, is another question.

  2. I would think most indie authors wouldn’t mind swinging a deal like Hugh Howey did with his Wool series, even if they (like Hugh) don’t get a huge advance. If they’re doing well enough already to be noticed by trad publishers, they wouldn’t likely need the advance, anyway. Of course, trad publishers will try anyway to strong arm them into giving up all rights, but hang tight. The trads might learn eventually that if they want any of the action, all they’re going to get will be a piece of it.


  3. That’s apparently the way it’s working with the music industry now. They don’t even take demo cds because they’re worried about accusations of stealing, but they all go to youTube and search for new talent there.

    I would be surprised if publishing didn’t go the same way soon.

  4. Ironically, this actually isn’t anything new. I first saw it happening a good decade ago, with some agents (and publishers) picking up some folks from FictionPress, of all places.

    Folks have scoffed at and ridiculed me for years, whenever I’ve brought that up and suggested that such crowdsourcing could handle the slush pile. And the news of that happening was quickly smoothed over after it happened, and I ran into a lot of folks who refused to believe that it had ever happened. (Only reason I’d found out about it was because one author/novel I was following happened to be one of the ones that got picked up.)

  5. That’s good news. The numbers are improving. 45 makes 15% of the total, which also include re-signings for existing authors or new books in a profitable series. It’s encouraging to know that not only is it possible to find a reader market as an Indie, you can also find a publishing home if the stars align. Thanks for the cheering up!

  6. A minor correction: I tweeted a link to this post earlier and Publishers Lunch replied saying that 45 was the *total* number of self-pub-to-trad deals reported to them, and about half of those were six figures.

    Still impressive.

  7. I think the numbers of crossovers will continue to rise as previously traditionally pub. authors get older (stop writing/crossover to indie/die) and more, younger Indies join the market place. I anticipate we’ll be seeing more contracts like Hugh’s as time goes on; thereby defeating the mentality that all Indie authors are writers who failed to get trad. published. The gate has been blown open and while things are still shaky and have yet to settle, I do see a bilateral world of publishing coming to fruition.

    Indies are going to rise as more and more improve their game and the gold-diggers drop out. Trad. publishers will have to team up in order to get their portion of the pie. Sure, they’ll still be authors going to trads first, but their power grip has been broken and they’ll just starting to realize it. The public will start to demand higher quality in Indies across the board, which in turn will raise the demand for offshoot jobs such as cover artists and editors. We’re already seeing many sites offering these services, but it’ll be great to see more individuals offering them. It’s going to get tougher as Indie quality improves, but the selection of books is going to get better. Something I can only be excited about.

    I think the time of the freebie crappy Indie book is going out. The public’s honeymoon is ending with freebies and over the next year or two books that aren’t well written, formatted and covered will have a tougher time. We’re already seeing how the freebie KDP program isn’t as wonderful for most authors anymore. The public still downloads freebies, but I read about how many have been burned by poorly written free books.

    I think most authors are going to realize that freebies should only be used for promotions not as permanent set ups because it creating an unfair stigma. There’s a definite course correction happening, and it’ll be interesting to see what 2013 brings.

    • Let us all hope you are right. Coupon Promotion is one very useful feature of Smashwords. I don’t have to do a scatter-gun freebie blitz. Rather, I can target a pitch to reviewers who read and enjoy the genre I’m writing in, and I can offer them a free review copy. Reading clubs, groups, ditto, but not just throwing my titles out there free. The “sales” growth is slower, but at least it means more.

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