In case you haven’t heard (from Hugh Howey’s blog or Jane Friedman’s), indie rockstar and NYTimes Bestseller Colleen Hoover has landed a print-only contract with Simon&Schuster. This follows on Hugh’s ground-breaking print-only deal last year, where he turned down three rounds of offers from NY publishers until they offered a print-only deal where he could keep his e-rights.
Is this the new hybrid author?
Maybe. It makes sense for publishers to distribute print and authors to distribute erights – why? While publisher’s print distribution system may be antiquated in some ways (especially the return system), they are still better equipped to sell print copies than the author on their own. That’s why it is, at least for now, still the dominant way that print copies are sold. On the other hand, authors are more efficient at distributing ebooks, mainly because they can price lower because they don’t have to carry the overhead of a publisher.
Jane says print-only deals make sense because (quoting Joanna Penn):
“leaving e-rights in the hands of a strongly selling author is smart because publishers can expect that author to remain more engaged in marketing.”
Well, yes. But this smacks of a rationalization of an economic decision already made, a realization made after consulting with the calculator and finding that publishers were leaving a lot of money on the table by not landing a print-only contract with a successful indie author. Because really – the “skin in the game” conclusion could have been reached long ago. Then again, sometimes money makes things clearer.
I think this signals a broader change where authors hold onto and manage more of their rights directly (not just erights and print, but audio, film, graphic novel, foreign translations, etc). I see indies making inroads into exploiting all these rights on their own, or in some cases through an agent with connections to those worlds. And not just rockstars like Hugh Howey and Colleen Hoover, but midlisters like myself.
What are your thoughts? Is the print-only deal the way of the future?