In my latest campaign of querying, I’ve selected 88 agents and publishers who I think would be amenable to my Cornish Detective series and who I think I could work with.
I made a submission to Boldwood Books who opened for business on February 1st. I saw news of their inception in the publishing industry newsletters.
The company was started by an experienced publisher, Amanda Ridout, and staffed by executives who know their stuff.
As they’re a startup, with no writer clients, as yet, their website is rather bare. Unusually, they requested the whole manuscript—rather than the first three chapters or 5,000 words—a practice I’ve noticed digital publishers favour more than print publishers.
They’re also relaxed about query letter and synopsis length, so I included spiel about the commercial reasoning behind my series and its Cornish location.
Approaching a publisher directly has advantages, but carries risks too, as most writers are clueless about contracts—which is what a literary agent is good at hammering out.
Boldwood is vague about contracts, which is kind of understandable as they’re new and funded by six private investors, but also slightly worrying. Statements on the site say:
“Your contract will be based on partnership principle and the proceeds of success shared equally.”
“Together we will build you into a global bestselling brand through energetic social media activity; dynamic pricing; collaborative retailer relationships and arresting digital advertising campaigns.”
Apparently, they intend to publish in all formats, with the first books released in autumn this year. Amanda Ridout is quoted as saying:
“We will start off small, but it’s all very scaleable, very quickly.”
Ridout added that the publisher would not be paying advances at launch—no surprises there, as the huge advances newspapers love to report are rare.
The press will look to acquire World English rights as standard, publishing initially in ebook, audio and print-on-demand, and other physical editions when required. Ebooks are cheap to release, but POD can carry fees and audiobooks cost a fortune to record if the narrator is famous.
I wonder how much of that expense will come from the author’s earnings…
As I emailed my submission, I found myself thinking of biker Jesse James, who builds choppers. To encourage customers to pay him, he has a tattoo inked on his right palm, which says Pay Up-$ Sucker.
Not quite the approach to take in the genteel world of publishing, but in trying to turn my books into commercial products that generate income, it’s always in the back of my mind (a cobwebbed place!).
I know that I can write decent stories, but I’m also sure that it feels like entering a pool of sharks when it comes to contracts. As billionaire financier observed
I’m not for one moment suggesting that Boldwood Books are doing anything shady, but setting sail on a newly constructed ship carries risks…think Titanic!
What do you make of Boldwood Books‘ vague assertions?