Books Magazine

Big Publishing, Kindle Scout, and the Next Lee Child

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian
Lee Child and his publisher, Bantam Press (a Random Penguin imprint) have done well for each other. There's no reason Child would want to jump ship. But what about the next Lee Child? Let's imagine Lee Child 2 has written a gritty, compelling thriller. What would he do with it?

He could self publish. But he's a newbie, and like all newbies, thinks traditional publishing is the real deal. He wants to be able to answer, when friends ask who his publisher is, with the name they'll have heard of, Penguin or Harper Collins. He has visions of his book stacked in the windows of book shops; a desk, a queue, a pile of books, a pen. He doesn't know his vision is twenty years out of date.

So he buys a copy of Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, and sends out his three chapters to agents. One of two things will happen:

  1. An agent will think she can sell his book to a publisher. She will sign him up, and maybe get him a publishing deal. Unless he is insanely lucky, the advance is likely to be modest, and his royalty will be around 8% for print, 25% for ebooks, paid twice a year, out of which he will pay his agent 15%. The ebook will be priced high, to protect print sales. The print version will have only a few months in bookshops to find its readers before being returned and pulped - but the publisher retains the rights for the length of the copyright, 70 years after the author dies. There won't be much in the way of marketing. If the book does not perform well the publisher will not want his next book, and he will have to change his name and start again.
  2. More likely though, he will not be able to find an agent to take him on. After a frustrating year or so, he'll look at other options.
Self publishing can seem daunting. It's a steep learning curve. While Lee Child 2 is poking around the internet looking for guidance, he'll probably come across Amazon's Kindle Scout. Advantages from LC2's point of view: unlike submitting to agents, it's a quick process, less than 45 days to get a decision. If chosen, his book will be on sale in two or three months. He'll receive $1,500 advance immediately, and a royalty of 50% paid monthly, for all rights but print. If sales earn him less than $25,000 in five years, he can get his rights back. And best of all, Amazon will market his book. All he needs is a good cover, and he's discovered while prowling round the internet that good covers are readily available and affordable.I think, as Kindle Scout gets bigger and better known, and some Kindle Press authors become best sellers, it will become the first place an ambitious new writer will try. Amazon will corner the market in fresh talent. And this might just be the coup de grâce for Big Publishing, who now account for less than a quarter of ebook purchases on Amazon, while indies are closing in on 45% (see Author Earnings). Compare and contrast Harper Collin's now defunct Authonomy with Kindle Scout - I could write a whole other blog post about this. Amazon has a sense of purpose and direction Harper Collins woefully lacks.The Big 5 should make the most of their big hitting authors, because once they are gone, there probably won't be any more coming their way.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog