February 17, 2016. It was a normal Wednesday for me work-wise; I'd not long finished for the day and was looking forward to a meal later with friends. Everything was ticking along nicely with my writing career, I thought. Little did I know that I was heading for a big (and wonderful!) surprise!
Shortly after 5pm, my mobile rang. The caller identified herself as part of the Amazon team, telling me how much she'd loved His Kidnapper's Shoes, detailing everything she liked about the novel. Of course, I was delighted! I couldn't help thinking that something else was afoot, though. After all, however much I enjoy a book, I don't track down the author's phone number and call to express my admiration!
My impression was reinforced when she questioned me about my writing career, including my current work-in-progress. Then she said she was looking into ways Amazon and I could work together, but couldn't reveal more right then. She said she'd email me later and requested a one-page synopsis of my next novel, Burning Obsession.
After the call ended, my emotions rocketed sky-high. I had an idea of what might be afoot, but couldn't be sure. I sent her the synopsis, and the following week we spoke some more and swapped emails. Still she didn't tell me what was brewing, but asked me to leave matters with her. Meanwhile, I did some online research, which gave weight to my initial hunch.
On Thursday, March 10, she called again. With an offer from Lake Union, Amazon Publishing's imprint for book club fiction, for a two-book, five-year publishing deal. Amazon intend to republish His Kidnapper's Shoes, take on Burning Obsession and to have first option on all my novels for the next five years. Later she emailed me a summary of the main points of the deal, prompting me to fire off several questions to her. I also emailed another Lake Union author, asking about her experience so far with them; her reply was overwhelmingly positive. 'I couldn't be more happy,' she told me.
That weekend I pondered some more. On Monday morning, I dispatched another round of questions Amazon's way. That afternoon, I emailed my decision to accept Lake Union's offer.
So there you have it. One phone call, and my life took an incredible turn. I'd heard about publishing houses keeping watch for self-published authors who might fit their criteria. Never, though, did I expect it to happen to me!
Just to be clear, Amazon Publishing is different from Amazon KDP, which deals with self-publishing. My books will be both traditionally and self-published, making me one of the new breed of hybrid authors, as we're known, who enjoy the best of both worlds. I'll retain some titles, giving me complete control over them along with higher royalties. With Lake Union, my other books will benefit from the mighty marketing muscle of Amazon, a global giant if ever there was one!
Why I accepted Lake Union's offer
I've always said I'd never sign a publishing contract. In fact, I was offered one a couple of years ago, for my non-fiction titles, and whilst I was flattered I had no hesitation in turning it down. Why would I cede the rights to my books for 10% royalties when I could self-publish, retain full control and earn 70%? I've always been very happy with my decision to go it alone. So what changed my mind?
Amazon, in a word. They do things differently and their global reach is phenomenal. I can't reveal details, but the terms of my contract are far more generous than those I'd get from a traditional publishing house. I'll also benefit from targeted marketing campaigns, something lacking with conventional publishers. In short, it was an offer I couldn't refuse.
My decision hasn't been easy in some respects. I'll be granting full rights to my books to Lake Union and they'll have the final say about titles and covers. As a result, His Kidnapper's Shoes will be relaunched with a new cover after going through Amazon's editing process. Once I've revised Burning Obsession, Amazon will take over publication, and it'll also get a new cover. His Kidnapper's Shoes is dear to my heart, being my first novel, and one that came after decades of procrastination; to relinquish it feels strange. I'm convinced, though, that my association with Lake Union will benefit my writing career, and any sacrifices will be amply compensated.
As for the photos of Lake Union in this post, Amazon name their publishing imprints after the streets surrounding their Seattle headquarters. Lake Union lies within the city limits and forms part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. So now you know! I visited Seattle in 1990, but didn't go to Lake Union. Time for a revisit, I think...
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