brenna aubrey

The Road Not Taken*

It was a hot, dry morning in early October when I paced the floor of my office at work, checking my cell phone obsessively.

My agent had just texted.  It’s an auction.

Two New York editors were going head to head over my debut novel, AT ANY PRICE and they had requested a “best bids” auction.  This meant that they were given two days to prepare their offers, complete with marketing plans, to submit for my consideration.

I was nervous. Excited. For three nights during this event I couldn’t sleep and I sure as heck couldn’t work on my novel-in-progress, the follow up which would become AT ANY TURN, during this time.  All I could do was obsess over what was going to happen and what I was going to decide.

Because at the back of my mind I still had that third option.  And that morning, as I texted with my agent, I reminded her of that.

I’m sure the editors are aware of the success that indie NAs are having right now but you just might let them know that the 3rd bidder in this auction is me. I hope you are okay with that. I just want them to know that I’m aware of what this book is worth.

We’d had this discussion before we’d even gone on submission. She knew this was a possibility.  It ended up that that third bidder, me, was the winner.  I had many reasons for that.

Am I sorry for that choice?  Not currently. No.  As it happened, I had a successful start.

But when I originally blogged about my choice, I had no idea that blog would go viral within the publishing community. That my decision would be held up, both for good and ill, to make a statement about other authors’ choices about how to publish their own work. This was not my intention.

I’m fortunate to be publishing in a time when authors have so many choices.  But my decision was the best decision for me, at this time and for this work.  A choice is always a decision to pursue one path and turn away from another.  And it was no easy choice.

That Sunday night, days after the auction had ended, after I’d had a weekend to mull over the offers and the options and consult other authors and experts, I sat in my recliner sobbing as I told my agent that I was going to pass.

Because I knew what I’d be giving up and I had no true idea what I’d be gaining.

So I’ve blogged a bit about what I gained for that first month. Now I want to discuss what I gave up.  Because in this “publishing war” we find ourselves in, that seems too often get overlooked. I believe traditional publishing will endure.

And when I turned down those offers (and some have told me that by being so open about my publishing journey, I have materially damaged my chances of ever publishing with a traditional house), I did give up some important things.

What I gave up by deciding to independently publish my novels:

An advance against royalties.

I gave up sure money paid to me regardless of the performance of my novels, sales wise.  When publishing independently, money is never guaranteed and you have to invest your own money into your work up front with no guarantee of ever making it back again.  Just as with being published traditionally, if you go the indie route, you could do everything right and the book could still tank.

Print distribution.

I was offered trade paperback print distribution for my books. As an independent author, my choices are now to offer print books via print on demand (POD) publishing from the various online outlets. As a consequence of that…

My books will not be in bookstores.

I won’t see a stack of paperbacks of AT ANY PRICE sitting on a nicely appointed premium display inside a Barnes and Noble, or even at the newly-created New Adult Romance section at the Books-A-Million. They won’t be at Walmart or Target or the grocery store. And I have no hope of seeing them on a rack at the airport, either.


My books are not likely to be found in a library.

Independently-published POD books are rarely ordered to fill library shelves. And my ebooks will not be distributed to the Overdrive, ebook provider for libraries across the country.

I will never have an editor who will work with me to develop the book and the follow-ups because she loved it enough to acquire it for her house.

As an indie author, any editor that I hire will be working with me because I approached them. They will be freelancers who are amazing at their work but who may or may not be in love with my writing and my story concepts. I turned down the opportunity to work with two talented and knowledgeable New York editors who loved my book enough to go to auction for it and offer high amounts of money out of their budget in order to secure it. In so doing, I gave up the chance to grow as an author under their tutelage.

A team of marketing and publicity experts with contacts in the literary world, the press, and other outlets. The branding a big name publisher can provide.

I gave up the opportunity to learn from marketing and publicity experts as well.  And I gave up being branded alongside bestselling authors who have been publishing for many years and have many readers.

I am less likely to ever make a national bestseller list.

While self-published authors do hit bestselling lists often, it is much harder for them for many reasons.  A lot of indie authors sell enough or more than their traditional counterparts and yet are virtually ignored by certain establishments who safeguard these important lists.

I am less likely to sell my other rights, such as audio and foreign translation.

Some might counter that I can self publish my books in audio form but this is now much more difficult due to recent changes in royalties provided the primary providers of indie Audiobooks, ACX. It is unlikely I will use this provider for my audio books and until another option crops up, my books may never make it into audio format. Foreign editions of indie books, as well, are hard sells to the foreign rights market unless the books have hit national bestseller lists.

I have most likely lost the chance to sell movie rights.

Indie books are seldom noticed by Hollywood. Some authors get lucky and manage to sell their movie rights.  Even though I’ve been told by many readers that AT ANY PRICE would make a great movie, I’m not sure how I’d even go about pursuing such an offer should I ever get one. And being noticed by the movie establishment seems like it would be a long shot.  Many more movies are made from traditionally published novels (some of the most anticipated movies this year, in fact, were traditionally published novels at one time) because those looking out for new story prospects for the movie industry are primarily looking at traditionally published books.

 I may have damaged my chances to become a hybrid author.

When I walked away from my auction offers, I was told, point-blank, that I would be a “hard sell” to any New York editor after this. I’m not sure whether this is true or whether this was pressure to conform.  No one from that establishment has approached me in any way since the auction and my subsequent blog posts. And I wasn’t really expecting that to happen.  However, I may have given the impression that I would never be interested in publishing traditionally.  This is simply not true.  Someday I’d like to be a hybrid author.

The cachet of being associated with a big publisher. Being invited to publisher parties at big writers conferences. Networking with industry professionals in a concentrated setting and with a common goal in mind. Being sent on book tours or participating in book signings.

Some of these things still happen for traditional authors. Some of them don’t. Some of them are very rare, especially for a debut author. Nevertheless, these things get listed amongst the things I gave up, because they do have value to many authors.

Structure and deadlines laid out for me.

In a short amount of time, I’ve had to learn this business from the ground up and have become my own time management expert. I’ve had to schedule cover art and editors myself and set my own deadlines for each phase of development. My process involves drafting the book at least 4 or 5 times with critique partners and beta readers who are involved at different points along the way.  Then there are the editors: for content and copy. And formatting. And then proofreading. After that comes the scheduling for publicity and distribution of ARCs, etc.

I have to keep all this in mind and know instinctively when to have what part of which phase done and which time in order to have it ready for the other people that are involved in the production of my book.  Had I sold my rights, these deadlines would have been set for me and I would know exactly when I’d need to be done with which phase of my manuscript without me worrying about scheduling separate parts of the whole.

If I ever accept a NY contract, I’ll never be marketed as a “debut author.” 

I have lost the opportunity for a traditional publishing house to establish a brand for me and market me as a debut author. When I publish AT ANY TURN in April, I will no longer be a debut author and will have lost the shiny newness associated with it.

Despite the list above, I do not regret my decision.

In my opinion, there has never been a more exciting time to be an author. There are difficult choices to make on the path toward publication. The road you take is your decision alone.

I wish you the best of luck in making those choices, whatever they may be.

*The title of this post was shamelessly swiped from the title of a favorite poem of mine by Robert Frost, one of my most favorite poets. I posted his poem on my Facebook page the day after I made my decision to self publish.

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

24 comments to “The Road Not Taken*”

  1. Louisa Bacio
      · March 10th, 2014 at 12:27 am · Link


    Definitely sounds like you’ve chosen the path that’s right for you, and for now.

    You know I wish you the best,


    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 12:50 pm · Link

      Thanks, Louisa. I am very happy with my publishing journey so far and I must say that having the complete control over my books from start to finish has been very addictive. But, as said above, it isn’t for everyone. I respect that.

      Hugs. xoxo

  2. Carey Baldwin
      · March 10th, 2014 at 12:32 am · Link

    Thanks again for another honest and thoughtful blog!

    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 12:53 pm · Link

      Thanks for reading, Carey. Appreciate all your kindness and support. You’re awesome (and SO EXCITED about your new release!) Congrats. :-)

  3. Debra Holland
      · March 10th, 2014 at 12:36 am · Link

    It’s always important to look at the pros and cons of any business decision and make an informed choice. You did that, Brenna, and are reaping the consequences, both positive and negative. I’m glad far more positive than negative things are happening for you and wish you all the best!

    Loved seeing the poem. It’s always been a favorite, and I hadn’t read it in a long while. The lovely thing about the poem is how you see it differently as you move through your live and take different roads. :)

    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 1:17 pm · Link


      You’re absolutely right. Above all else, this is a business decision. Everyone has different goals and brings different skills and abilities to the table. The point is that there is no one right decision for everyone.

      I’ve always loved that poem. Such a great message and inspired by a difficult decision that Frost once faced with regards to his work, so I found it appropriate.

  4. Lucy Lit
      · March 10th, 2014 at 7:57 am · Link

    Thank you for this. I debuted this weekend and every point you make is something I wrestled with over the past months. The magnitude of noise out there for trad vs. indie is deafening and your perspective is refreshing. The power is in the choice. All the best to you in your journey.

    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 1:18 pm · Link

      Lucy, congrats on your debut! May this be the beginning of a wonderful, thriving career. We have power that we never had before in these two very valid choices. I hope you are happy with your decision. :)

  5. Amy DeLuca
      · March 10th, 2014 at 8:32 am · Link

    Yes! Exactly. So well said. I have some books that would probably be best traditionally published and some that may do better indie. Whichever way I decide to go (or both), I would hate for any of my writing friends to see it as an endorsement for one side and a betrayal of the other, because what I choose to do only indicates what’s best for me– not for them or any other writer. Loved your debut book and happy for you that it’s gotten off to a good start. Best of luck as you continue on your writing journey, be it indie all the way, traditional, or hybrid!

    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 1:20 pm · Link

      I’ve scratched my head at the logic that this is an “either/or” decision. It might end up being an either/or decision for me and quite frankly I’m okay with that. I’m pleased with how this has started out. But other authors have so many options and it seems silly to limit ourselves based on ideology rather than smart business decisions.

  6. H.M. WARD
      · March 10th, 2014 at 10:19 am · Link

    It sounds like Random Penguin roughed you up in a parking lot or something. What’s going on? This is the stuff that’s been spread far and wide by the publishing industry for years and, dear girl, most of it is BS. I’m gonna be blunt, b/c you’re assuming the grass is greener on the other side, but they don’t even have grass over there. Things are that messed up.

    An advance against royalties – Have you heard how many of our peers didn’t get paid? They entered into a multi book deal like you were offered and well, the pub didn’t think book 1 went very well, so book 2 & 3 were cancelled. No money for you.

    There’s the appearance of stability when working with a publisher, but they cannot offer you job security. Then all of a sudden, your 3 book, 6-figure deal ended up earning you $30K over 2 years and you want to poke your eye out with a fork. True story. Ask around.

    Print distribution.
    PRINT IS DEAD. There’s no money in print. Why do you think the big 5.5 are buying up indie ebooks? Why don’t we see the stores stocked with these titles? Where’d they go? I know for a fact that one publishers plan was to acquire enough Indies to release 70+ new titles in one season and NOT PRINT A THING. But that’s not what they told me! Yeah, well, things change. Print is dead and the pubs are noticing that isn’t where the money is.

    My books will not be in bookstores.
    Mine are and have been since day 1. If enough ppl ask for your book, they will order your book.

    My books are likely never to be found in a library.
    Also, not true. If enough ppl (usually 6) ask for your book, they will buy your boo, Indie or not.

    I will never have an editor who will work with me to develop the book and the follow-ups because she loved it enough to acquire it for her house.

    Bwuahahhaha! I’m sorry, but you’re assuming that they know better. Dude, they’re part of a dying breed, and they’re dying b/c they don’t want to change. No one jumps up and down and screams, “oooh, ooooh! pick me!” to be the next casualty of the publishing industry.

    I gave up the chance to grow as an author under their (NY editor’s) tutelage.

    Again, they can’t tell their ass from their elbow and you’re gonna look really weird at parties trying to sit on the wrong one.

    A team of marketing and publicity experts with contacts.

    FAKE! Guess what? The experts are few and far between. If the market has shifted to primarily selling intangible goods and you have a panel of ppl who rock at selling paper, then you have a serious problem. The experts aren’t there. They’ll put you on a list with 2K subscribers that’s WAY past it’s hayday, and then tell you to buy a bookbub ad.

    Authors are expected to market themselves, traditionally published or Indie. If you fail, even after being picked up by one of the big boys, it’s your fault. It’s never their fault. Not the kind of people you want to work with.

    “The branding a big name publisher can provide.”

    They have no idea how to do this. The authors who have brands sold scads of books and the pubs rode coattails. You make your brand. You ARE your brand. This is one of those shiny things they dangle to get you to sign, and then you find out it was never there. How do you market intangible goods (goods you can’t touch)? I know and I’m very aware that they do not.

    “I gave up the opportunity to learn from marketing and publicity experts as well.”

    No you didn’t. When a big publisher did research on serials, guess who they looked at? When the publishers want to check the market to see what unexpected stuff is going on, do you really think they’re looking to themselves? No, they’re looking at us – Indies. Why? Because we take more risks, and understand the market better b/c we have to. They still get paid even if they’re sitting on their elbows. We don’t eat if we don’t sell our stuff. Poverty is a motivator–it’s a bonus really.

    “I gave up being branded alongside bestselling authors who have been publishing for many years and have many readers.”

    I’ve had the big 5 come to me (after refusing over 1.5 million in contracts) to ask me to blurb their book. I’m 100% Indie and pretty much told them that they have no idea how to do anything. They still came asking. You are in good company, and we tend to be more forthright and supportive.

    “I am less likely to ever make a national bestseller list.”
    Everyone says that. Statistically, this is inaccurate as the list has been take over by Indies. As an Indie, you’re more likely to make a list IMHO. You have complete control.

    “I am less likely to sell my other rights, such as audio and foreign translation. Some might counter that I can self publish my books in audio form but this is now much more difficult due to recent changes in royalties provided the primary providers of indie Audiobooks, ACX.”

    Don’t even get me started on ACX, but to counter your point – you WILL get audio offers for your book. They’ll be around $1K, b/c ‘audio just isn’t worth that much.’ Which is BS. Take it if you want or do it yourself and use a different platform. There’s more than just ACX out there. You will get offers on foreign too. Take it if you want. They will find you.

    “I have most likely lost the chance to sell movie rights.”
    Not true. Several indies sold film rights.

    “I may have damaged my chances to become a hybrid author.”
    Hybrid is a term that the industry made up so they won’t get left behind. They want you to think they’re relevant and still have something to offer. They don’t.

    “When I walked away from my auction offers, I was told, point-blank, that I would be a “hard sell” to any New York editor after this.”

    That’s bullshit. Money talks. See above reference of me blowing them off and then being asked to blurb a book 2 weeks later. That was a pressure tactic and it’s BS.

    “The cachet of being associated with a big publisher. Being invited to publisher parties at big writers conferences. Networking with industry professionals in a concentrated setting and with a common goal in mind. Being sent on book tours or participating in book signings.”

    You can still do that and laugh at them as you walk by b/c you’re making more money and have more freedom. Ta ta!

    “If I ever accept a NY contract, I’ll never be marketed as a “debut author.” ”

    They tried to mark me as a ‘debut’ author after publishing 40+ books. I don’t think that’s a good thing, there Brenna. It’s the newB stamp.

    “I have lost the opportunity for a traditional publishing house to establish a brand for me”

    You said this twice. THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THEY INTENDED ON MAKING A BRAND FOR YOU. Branding things is difficult, branding people is even harder. That’s not what they do. They know how to print paper and they’re abandoning that in an attempt to remain relevant.

    I have no idea who got under your skin, but most of these concerns are BS feed to Indies by agents and editors. It’s a sales technique called ‘fear of loss’ – look at everything you gave up by leaving us. Meanwhile they’re telling you about the Indie side of things and they have no clue. A dog can’t say what it’s like to live as a cat, you get me?

    Pay attention to where you hear things. This is part of them tainting the market and making us afraid so we’ll sign away our rights for a song. They’re taking advantage and it’s wrong.

    It’s hard to make an ‘informed’ decision when the trads are blowing so much smoke up our butts. Seriously.

    To those who trad pubbed and signed on the line, I’m not slamming you. People have to do what they have to do, but please be aware that the industry is crumbling and there are so many false concepts and things that will be offered if you only sign here! Sign now! Don’t wait! If anyone treats you like that, run the other way.

    • Jinsey Reese
        · March 10th, 2014 at 11:12 am · Link

      What Holly said, lol.

    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 1:53 pm · Link


      This reply is epic and I’m so thrilled that you posted.

      Please understand that this was NOT a “grass is greener over there” type of post. It’s more like “The grass is green here and I love it, but there was green grass over there that I gave up on as well.”

      Your points are valid and should all be part of the decision any author should weigh when deciding whether to go trad or indy. But no one will deny that you, personally are exceptionally gifted in many areas relating to the business and are no stranger to hard, hard work. No one will deny, also, that you’ve made the best decisions for you and your career, either.

      My point is that some people aren’t willing to do all that is entailed with self publishing and prefer to have others to it for them. For me at this point, it would be very difficult to give up the sense of control and self-achievement I’ve gotten from putting the book out myself. But I’m not above considering other possibilities.

      I’m all for open mindedness and respecting others’ decisions as long as they are well-informed and not made out of ignorance or fear of the unknown.

    • Margot Atwell
        · March 12th, 2014 at 8:34 pm · Link

      Why all the hate for editors, Ward?

      “Bwuahahhaha! I’m sorry, but you’re assuming that they know better. Dude, they’re part of a dying breed, and they’re dying b/c they don’t want to change. [snip]
      Again, they can’t tell their ass from their elbow and you’re gonna look really weird at parties trying to sit on the wrong one.”

      Most of us got into this field because we’re voracious readers, and some of us are also writers. All of us love books so much that we gave up the chance to make a real salary in advertising or law so we could work with authors to help them improve their work and their skills. Sure, no editor is infallible, but it seems pretty unreasonable to write off as worthless an entire category of professionals who have dedicated their lives to improving books.

      It is true that there are a lot of pressures within major (and smaller) publishing companies that mean that authors frequently get less attention than they deserve. But Brenna is right–if two editors went to the mat for her book that way, that’s a big deal, and those editors probably would have been very invested in her work. I’m not saying she was wrong to choose her path. I have a ton of respect and admiration for indie authors, and the whole indie ecosystem. (In fact, I spent the last year as an independent editor.) But I think it’s counterproductive to speak in absolutes like this.

      I love this post because it acknowledges that there are real tradeoffs no matter which path you choose, and tries to articulate what those tradeoffs might be. The more we talk realistically about the pros and cons of different options, the more information everyone will have to make decisions that are right for them.

    • Michael J Sullivan
        · March 19th, 2014 at 8:23 am · Link

      Holly you make some good points…but I will say that your success is not what most can hope to achieve, so while your books are in the bookstores and libraries, most authors – who are destined for the midlist (as it is where most authors find themselves) won’t. I’m not saying that Breanna shouldn’t have turned down her contracts – I think she absolutely made the right call. But I also think that my call to sign my big-five (that wasn’t that much different than Breannas) was right for me. I’ve seen extensive benefits that I wouldn’t have had if I stayed 100% self and I’m happy with my hybrid status.

      Bottom line…each route will be better or worse depending on the author’s goals and abilities. Self isn’t for everyone…but the ones who can go either way have more choices and yes I agree in most cases they will do better with self because so much has to be given up…but that’s not to say it is ALWAYS the right choice. Just my 2 cents worth.

  7. Christine Ashworth
      · March 10th, 2014 at 11:29 am · Link

    Excellent post, Brenna. I, too believe that being a hybrid author is the way to go. I don’t believe that print will ever die, just like the movies didn’t die when TV became popular (or VHS, or DVDs, or iPads, etc). All of the things you list above are things I’ve been thinking about, and while I’m published with a digital-first publisher, I’m still waffling about which way to go from here.

    I’m glad that you chose the right option for you, and I wish you much (continued) success.

    • Brenna
        · March 10th, 2014 at 1:58 pm · Link

      In my opinion, there is no one way to go. If that’s the best decision for you, great. But it may not be the way to go for someone else. As proven by Holly’s epic awesomeness. She had the chance to go hybrid and it would have been a big loss for her so she chose wisely and kept her rights. That was the best way to go for her. Some want to and will stay traditional without ever dipping their toes in the indy pool. If that’s what they find is best for them, then great.

  8. Shoshanna Evers
      · March 10th, 2014 at 11:34 am · Link

    *tackle hugs HM Ward*

  9. Anthea Lawson/Sharp
      · March 11th, 2014 at 2:01 pm · Link

    Hiya Bren! Good on you for mentioning the things you thought you were giving up by not taking the traditional deal. The thing is, just as there are no guarantees in going indie, there are almost guarantees in going the tradpub route. Despite what they want authors to believe. Here’s my experience with my 2 NY published books:

    Advance – so small as to be laughable, and *under* what the average debut author advance is currently. (hint – mid 4 figures…)
    Granted, you were in a slightly different boat, but *many* authors will fall closer to my side of the equation. ;)

    Print distribution – smaller than average print run, much of which was returned *in the month of publication* from the bookstores. (October 2008, a horrible horrible month to be a debut author.

    Books not in bookstores – See above…

    Books not in libraries – My tradpub novels are in a scant handful of libraries worldwide. But then again, so are my indie books. About the same number in fact. ;)

    Editorial input – Zip. That’s right, ZERO editorial input from the editor who acquired me. I got light copy edits, and galley proofs. That is all. Plus, I was orphaned (editor left the publishing house) early on in book 2’s life. New editor had no feedback for me, whatsoever. I was dumped on her desk, after all.
    Despite this, my debut book garnered a RITA nomination for Best First Book. I still wasn’t offered a second contract, however.

    Team behind the book/branding – I had a cover that was all wrong for my genre, and doubtless helped contribute to lackluster preorders/sales. The second, interconnected, book looked *completely* different from the first. I had no input on titles (both of mine were changed), cover art, back cover blurb, marketing approach (basically there was none)…

    Bestseller lists – My print runs were way too small to even think of hitting any kind of lists. I have a much better chance with my indie-published works. ;)

    Other rights – Despite buying up *everything* my publisher has only exploited a tiny tiny portion of my rights. Book 1 sold to Japan, Book 2 to Germany and Thailand. No audiobooks are being made of my titles. The publisher would rather tie up rights and leave them unexploited than actively work for an author’s career. That way, if an author magically takes off (without them having to do any work), they’re set!

    Movie rights – Not a glimmer for my title in tradpub. Who knows, once I get the rights back? :)

    Hybrid author chances – Not damaged at all, imo. Publishers want what’s selling. If you’re selling, they will want you.

    Cachet – Publisher cocktail parties are awkward and uncomfortable, in my experience. I’d rather kick it at the bar with my author peers. Plus, you and I both know the networking opportunities among indies are unmatched! (Witness the recent UnCon, the active and supportive loops, etc.)
    I do my own indie booksignings at my local indie bookstore. Always well attended and very fun! I also sign at conferences and book fairs. Publishers don’t send authors on book tours much these days, and if they do, half the time they forget to ship the books to the stores… (too many true stories about this).

    Structure and deadlines – Some truth here, although NY’s bad planning and time management usually comes back to bite the author. A trad-pubbed friend of mine *always* has to do her edits and proofs over the various holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas) since that’s when her editor clears her desk. Of course, they are due the Monday the editor returns to work…
    For me, the best impetus to keep up as fast a pace I can is the response from my readers, asking when the next book will be out. :)
    But yes, scheduling and project management can be a bear to deal with. Point conceded~

    Debut Author – Actually, they probably *will* mark you as a debut author, since you’ll be new to the tradpub system. Seriously. That, or make you write under a pseudonym…

    Anyway, there are just as many pitfalls in taking a traditional deal as there are in going indie, in my opinion. No one is going to care about your book as much as you do! Personally, I love the control and freedom to run my own business and publish my books as I see fit. And if my books aren’t succeeding, I can and will try new things, instead of telling the author their “numbers aren’t good” and declining to renew their contract.

    As a data point, I indie released a new historical romance in September of last year. Within two months, I’d made MORE than the amount NY paid me for an advance on my second title (also historical romance). ;) My ongoing royalties from tradpub are *pathetic* (around $100 every six months) and I’m trying hard to get my rights reverted early, so I can actually do my books justice instead of watch them moldering away, stuck in a system where nobody cares about them and have no idea how to sell backlist.

    Anyway, hope this perspective is useful for folks, from somebody who’s been on the other side of the publishing fence. :)

    • Brenna
        · March 11th, 2014 at 8:47 pm · Link

      Thanks for weighing in with your experiences, Anthea. You’re right that I never experienced the other side. I’m still a wet-behind-the-ears newbie at this whole thing. Most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing. LOL I’m just learning this business as I go along. And I truly don’t know what it’s like on the other side because I’ve never been over there.

      So thanks for sharing your experiences. Very educational!

  10. Pete Morin
      · March 12th, 2014 at 7:05 am · Link

    Well doesn’t this post make me just wanna sharpen up that query letter!

    Congratulations, Brenna, for making the decision you did.

    And Anthea, thanks for sharing another testimonial.

  11. Michael J Sullivan
      · March 19th, 2014 at 8:11 am · Link

    I actually think your chances of being hybrid are excellent. I think you’ll get offers, it’s a matter of can you live with the terms offered. My thoughts are that it’s worth having one (or a few) titles in traditional so you should be able to find something that you’re willing to give over to that side. Sure, they may not be knocking right now – but give it time and for a future project I would be shocked if you didn’t get offers.

  12. R.T. Edwins
      · April 4th, 2014 at 10:26 am · Link

    As I read this, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of your sadness over giving these things up. As an Indie author myself, I can understand the losses quite well. Although I didn’t debut with a bidding war like you, my initial book has done pretty well and as time goes on, I’ve realized some of these “missed opportunities” that you’ve outlined here.

    Despite the sad twinge I feel at these thoughts, I have to say that I am much more optimistic about the future of self-publishing than you are. Perhaps it is because I am a generation behind you or because I might be a bit crazy, but I feel like indie publishing will completely take over the writing world by the time I die. Sure, we aren’t there yet and we will have to struggle with some of the items you’ve outlined above, but the winds of change are blowing and quite quickly at that. It wasn’t but 5 years ago that to say “I self-published” meant you were a very black sheep in a long row of white sheep who’d probably never get published.

    Now writers like myself are able to reach 10’s of thousands of readers without any marketing, without going through a traditional publisher or editor, without having a print run, and without having to give up most of the royalties. More than this, some of the self-published have gone on to sell movie rights and get print distribution deals, and ARE selling in the big box stores. I hate to say it, but you’ve got to chin up a bit about your future. You wrote an amazing novel that’s had a wonderful receiving. There are open doors in front of you that you haven’t even seen yet!

    I think I know why you wrote this post, and while I understand your reasoning, I sincerely hope you change (if you haven’t already in the last month) your perspective about your potential, because whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. Maybe I didn’t come up with that statement, but I live by it everyday.

    I’ve been told so many times over the years that I COULDN”T do something, or that I’d fail because of the decisions I made, and you know what I’ve found? Those people are absolutely wrong. Where one person sees nothing but closed doors, another person can see opportunity around every corner and in the end of it all, that person who sees opportunity ALWAYS ends up on top and the one who sees closed doors lives a life of the victim.

    Which will you be? Will you feel bad about how you won’t get those opportunities, or are you going to look for ways to capture those opportunities regardless? I admire you as a fellow writer, which is why I wrote to congratulate you about all of this a few months ago, but you’re not giving yourself the benefit of the doubt. You bet on yourself when you walked away from those New York deals, and it was a good bet. Now you just need to keep doing that, realizing that you are the source of your own achievement or failure, and that source begins with your expectations about the possibilities. If you want it, you WILL find a way to be that hybrid author. You WILL find a way to get movie rights and you WILL find a way to get your book on those shelves, but you can’t give up before you’ve even tried.

    I know you say you didn’t regret you decision, which is a good thing, but you have to understand that while your decision is currently the “road less travelled” it can still lead you to the same place as the other, it will just be a different experience.

    • Brenna
        · April 4th, 2014 at 11:51 pm · Link

      Hey R.T. thanks for your thoughtful and honest post. I appreciate your reading the blog post and offering your perspective. Several have taken away from this that I am somehow sad or regretful over my decision. For this reason I regret having posted. The original point I was attempting to make was that in any decision you make, there is always the other option you left by the wayside. This post was an attempt to look at the other side, to examine those possibilities in the fairest way I knew how and explore those alternatives. Honestly there are things on that list that I don’t particularly care about, but they are there because they are things I gave up by going indie. I love being an indie author. Just LOVE it. But I’d be lying if I said it isn’t difficult.

      I think it’s human nature to sit back and examine choices we’ve made, analyze them and decide what was for the best and what wasn’t. It’s how we learn and grow in wisdom. I’ll never tell anyone that there is only one choice everyone should/must make in publishing. Everyone has to do what is best for him/her in his/her situation for his/her particular book. Going indie with AT ANY PRICE and its sequels was the best decision for me. And I’m so happy I did it! But does that mean I’ll never traditionally publish anything? I don’t know…that’s what that post was meant to examine.

      I have another blog post planned very soon that will, I hope, sound much more optimistic and happy in tone. Thanks again for stopping by and taking the time to comment. ~Brenna

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