A few years ago I wrote a horror novel called AFRAID.
I tried to write the scariest book of all time, and lots of people seem to think it is. But it wasn't an easy sell. In fact, it took my agent six months to find a buyer. After many, many rejections, we landed a two book paperback deal with Grand Central.
I got a $20k advance. Not enough to support my family, but enough to keep me in the business. I hoped that AFRAID would be given a wide distribution, quickly earn out its advance, and I'd be able to grow the Jack Kilborn brand (that's the pen name I used). To promote AFRAID, I did a blog tour, appearing on 100 blogs in 31 days. I also did a real book tour, signing at 206 bookstores in 12 states.
Happily, AFRAID managed to find an audience, and quickly earned out its advance. Between March 2009 and June 2012, AFRAID has earned me $75,882. Not too bad.
But all was not rosy.
Grand Central didn't like my follow-up horror novel, LEVEL 6. They didn't like the title, or the story, even though they published the first few chapters of it in the back of AFRAID, under a title I hated, TRAPPED.
So I rewrote TRAPPED, because even though I thought the book worked well, I needed the money.
They didn't like the rewrite, either. I had fans expecting TRAPPED, but apparently they weren't going to get what they wanted.
So I wrote another novel for Grand Central, ENDURANCE. This one they liked, but wanted changes. I told them no, and paid them back the advance I got for the second book.
Telling a major publisher off was pretty much unheard of at the time, and I believe I became the first author to reject a Big 6 deal in favor of self-pubbing. I published TRAPPED and ENDURANCE myself. Had Grand Central been smarter, they could have published TRAPPED and ENDURANCE and perhaps even more Kilborn novels.
So how'd I do on my own?
I released TRAPPED and ENDURANCE in June of 2010. As of last month, TRAPPED has made $137,400 and ENDURANCE $103,200.
I'm happy with the money I've made, and that fans like these titles even though Grand Central had problems with them (they each have over 200 Amazon reviews and average of 4 stars).
To celebrate, AFRAID is now free on Amazon for the next five days.
Now I'm sure you have questions...
Q: Joe, if AFRAID was still making money for Grand Central, how did you get the rights back?
Joe sez: Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not able to discuss that right now.
Q: Will AFRAID be released on platforms other than Kindle?
Joe sez: Yes, it will soon. I also have an omnibus edition of AFRAID, TRAPPED, and ENDURANCE as an ebook trilogy for $7.99.
Q: Will there be a new print edition of AFRAID?
Joe sez: Yes, also coming very soon.
Q: I like the new cover. It sort of resembles the old cover, so readers who remember that one will be able to identify it. Who did it?
Joe sez: Carl Graves. I think it's better than the one Grand Central did. Last I heard, except in rare and special cases, Carl is no longer doing custom covers. But he is continuing to sell predesigned covers. He's got twenty of them on his website that he's selling for $200 each.
Q: Is there going to be a new Kilborn title coming soon?
Joe sez: Yes. There will be several coming out next year, 2013.
Q: Don't you realize that Grand Central is the reason Jack Kilborn has fans? They introduced him to the world. Don't you feel like you owe them?
Joe sez: I'll always be grateful to everything my legacy publishers have done for my books, and my career. That's why I'll drink a sincere toast to them when they all go out of business. Which, if they aren't smart, will happen a lot sooner than they expect.
The windmill needs the wind to turn. The wind doesn't need the windmill to blow.