When your chickens are scattered to the four winds
A slightly angry Thank you, Pronoun (or rather Macmillan)
It is part of the journey of every artist to struggle with obstacles. One has to start over repeatedly, change with the market, with expectations, after failure. My German mindset didn’t make the decision easy and fast to try out the publishing platform Pronoun for my Viking historical fiction – but after reading only positive and carefully-optimistic blogs and opinions about it, I decided to publish my Tales of Freya collection with them. Because, you see, one good reason apparently was that the big publishing house Macmillan backed them.
But I dare say exactly this seems to be why they are now shutting down so suddenly and without notice. At 10:08 pm everything was going smoothly, I had all my chickens neatly lined up and was busy, albeit relaxedly, preparing my next release: “Bonds – Under the Armour“. And at 10:09 pm an email arrived saying bluntly “Pronoun is shutting down”. HUH?!
I’m inclined to say this was not fair and too abrupt, people at Macmillan. You weren’t even riding it out for the usual two years before things pick up. You shut it all down in the face of enthusiastic authors like me, and of an increasing crowd of newcomers to whom word got round that you did everything right and understood what selfpublishing authors wanted. It was easy and fun to work with you, Pronoun. You had so many good features, and good deals with the mega-sellers. We thought you’d hang in there a little bit longer, gave us all time to grow with you. But no.
Idealism dies in the face of moneyyyyy …
As usual, the hurry of closure stinks of short-sighted financial reasons. Your business model was immature, they say. The deals we got were too good, they say. Well, lesson learned. If something looks too good … Unfortunately even the more experienced and trusted of us can be wrong and are now blogging about the reasons of Pronoun’s failure. It’s another bruise on the way to what everyone of us defines as her success.
So I have to realign my chickens once more. Wondering about timing, hassle, strategies and tactics. Talking to my network of unbelievably helpful colleagues. Go check out the real friends, namely Chris Cherry, Tony Riches, Mary Anne Yarde, Elaine Coetzee, Paula Roscoe, Jenny Kane … Thank you! Those are an author’s safety net, not the Big Five or the Small Thousand. Check them out.
… so friends and networks it is!
The more experienced of my friends warn me to ever again go with a platform like Pronoun and just go straight to the big A. I think I’ll listen to them, but one can never, ever be really sure which was the right move. There is no right move. It all is “a” move for a certain period of time, until things change again, a storm rages, and the chickens are once again scattered to the four winds (with me chasing after them, sigh).
The initial panic has settled and I feel like the waves are calming. I haven’t made a move yet, but very soon will, so if you want to read one or all of my Tales of Freya, you can do what has proven to be a wise move (and thanks to Kristen Lamb, to whom I listened with this one): always go via your OWN platform. Have all the links in your own place. So sarah-dahl.com it is, folks, and you’ll be set on the right tracks from here.
Over to you: how were you affected by the changing winds in publishing as writers or even readers? What do you think is the right mindset to weather all the storms? Tell us in the comments! Always interested to read your opinions 🙂
carol hedges 27.11.2017 at 8:57
I am reading this over and over again. A writer signs what they hope is a good deal. They are good to go and then the door is slammed. Happened to me with ACCENT PRESS who took my 5 book Spy Girl Series, actually had all the covers designed, and then decided to close their YA series as it wasn’t making enough money. So I TOTALLY understand your anger/frustration. The answer: self publish. I have my own imprint ‘Little G Books’ and use Amazon Createspace/a prfessional cover artist. Yeah, so snotty Waterstones won’t take my books, but TBH they won’t take more than the odd copy from small offshoots and Indies anyway. PLUS, I get to chose Amazon categories,I get MORE money, and I am in charge of promos. So, stand tall, give them 2 fingers and walk into your new (successful) future! x
sarah 27.11.2017 at 9:21
Hi Carol, thank you for that insight, it helps to know I’m certainly NOT alone (which was clear anyway). Yes, I’m thinking I like this being in control, we have our own imprint already, and I’m atm looking into Amazon KDP and Select/KU instead of spreading wide with a platform that might go bust tomorrow again. You’re absolutely right that taking matters into our own hands at least rids us of this likelihood and we can just be in charge (which I love and need, so selfpublishing IS my only answer now). And yes to the fingers, but I’m moving on from those now 😉 Thanks again and all the best to your endeavours (sounds like you’re quite happy with how it goes!). Always happy writing! x
Mary Anne 13.11.2017 at 17:09
Oh, Sarah. I hope you have all your chickens realigned soon! Thank you, for your kind words as well!!
sarah 13.11.2017 at 21:54
I can only thank YOU and others who never tire to support more inexperienced authors who are naive enough to walk into such bogs…It’s people of your calibre who pull us out again, wipe off our boots and set us on a different track – maybe to better horizons 😉