This meant that while my ebook sales plummeted, my print sales continued until finally I noticed three of my books were going out of stock everywhere. Servant of the King just became unavailable last week. To cut a long story short, Permuted Press - instead of doing a new print run - decided to release the rights of my books back to me. This means that today is probably the last day you can buy an ebook of any of my books for some time. Believe it or not, this was something that I've wanted for some time. Now that I am released from my contract, I can say that while there were many things about Permuted Press that made me happy (their connection with S & S, their international platform, their artwork, and the advances that they give) there was much that made me sad too. I list the positives because I don't want to become one of the many voices of their ex-authors who didn't have them dreams fulfilled by this company and decided to backlash. Let's be clear: very few authors get their dreams fulfilled by any company. It's the life of an author. Those who complain should remember they chose it and should live with it.
Some of the things that did disappoint me, however, were the following.
Editing - my editor ran up to three months late on my final two books with Permuted, meaning we had a frantic race to see which would come first: the publication date or the manuscript! In addition to this, she was overloaded, meaning the quality of her editing was not everything I hoped it would be.
Inflexibility - in taking on an author from New Zealand, Permuted - I believe - should have been prepared to show some flexibility in their marketing model. Allowing the books to be printed in Australia would have been a very wise move on their part, as I had Dymocks in Sydney, a number of Paper Pluses, and the Whitcoulls chain prepared to carry the books. But they couldn't because of the exchange rate and the cost of shipping.
Expectations and marketing - I was once told that Permuted might consider publishing the last three books of my series if I sold one hundred ebooks a day. For an unknown author, this is a tall order. I was told to keep working on social media, try guest blog posts, try Twitter, try Facebook... I've done all of this, ad infinitum. Additionally, I got plenty of recognition in my own country: I was in the New Zealand Herald, on the radio, and even was a finalist in the Sir Julius Vogel Awards. This simply didn't change the fact that Permuted was doing nothing on their end to promote a New Zealand author in an American market. I was a complete unknown. Imagine posting one tweet on Twitter and waiting for one hundred people to notice you. That's what the Amazon market is like. You place one book on it amid the multitude in the "feed" and watch it sink unless you keep the talk going about it. And Permuted didn't keep the talk going. They waited for a miracle, and when it didn't happen, they weren't happy. This did sadden me, but I do understand a publisher has to work for profit. I just think there must be smarter ways of getting that profit.
Pricing - even if Permuted hadn't allowed the books to be printed in Australia, we could have had more sales if they had been content to lower their ebook prices to something more marketable. My literary agent was amazed to find my books were twice the price of anyone else's. If I see an unknown fantasy author at six to seven dollars US and then I see another unknown at three dollars, I would be buying the three dollar book. This doesn't even take into account that well-known authors are selling at less. One simple move could have saved a lot of hassle and disappointment on both ends of my contractual agreement with Permuted. However, that would have meant changing what they were doing with a lot of authors. And they weren't prepared to do that. Again, understandable. Just sad for me.
I regret nothing, however. I have had an awesome publishing experience overall. I knew this contract wasn't going to be forever, and I know that's no comment on my writing. That's just the nature of things, and it was always going to be that way with Permuted.
My literary agent in Pennsylvania has been dreaming of the day we'll get the rights for the whole series, to try to sell The Fledgling Account to a publisher that might push this series a bit more. Now we have that chance. And it's one that I'm not going to let go of!
For those of you who are disappointed you won't be able to buy these books for the time being, take heart. For a start, you're probably in New Zealand. They're in the majority of New Zealand's main public libraries. I also have some spare copies to sell as well. So if you're keen, contact me through this website for your copy.