Three years ago, we signed a contract with Cobblestone Press for our werewolfish romance novella, Wicked Games. It was a fairly smooth ride, all around. Acceptance came fairly quickly and a contract soon followed. To our pleasure, the contract was written in English instead of legalese and the terms were fair. We were pleased to sign it.
The contract offer came in April, 2010, and Leanne Salter, Managing Editor, first reviewed our manuscript in May. We did three complete edits in quick order and Leanne was terrific every step of the way. When the story was complete, the Cobblestone team asked our thoughts about the cover (we wanted a full moon in there somewhere) before offering us a choice of cover artists. We selected Sable Grey. By the end of May, Sable had given us a sexy cover that practically shouted hot romance. We were impressed.
The image above is by Miriam Uribe, visual artist. She designed it on a lark and it makes us smile.
Rocketing along, the C.P. machine had the story on-line and available for purchase by July, 2010. Every month since then, they've mailed us each our own royalty check. We don't remember a check ever arriving late and we never had reason to doubt the numbers Cobblestone shared with us. All in all, we've had a fine relationship with the gang out in Mississippi.
So why did we ask to have our rights returned just as soon as the contract allowed? It wasn't Cobblestone, it was us.
Also, there was this: Our first royalty check clocked in at over $60 each. Our latest royalty check? 61 cents per author. The story's Amazon Best Sellers Rank is nudging the 800,000 mark in the Kindle Store. In short, Wicked Games isn't selling. (Would our Amazon ratings be different if we'd maintained a steady output of paranormal romances, all published under the C.P. banner? We think so. But, since we wandered off to write whatever struck our fancy, romance readers saw us as one-and-done.)
Now, even though the original contract promised to return our rights after three years upon request, we knew it wouldn't be that simple. When we contacted Deanna Lee, Cobblestone's publisher, asking for our release, we expected a little trouble. A little delay here, a tiny problem there, and -- the next thing you know -- our three year contract has lasted four years. But we asked, anyway.
You know what? We were too cynical. Shortly after we emailed, we received our release. (It probably helps when your royalty checks nearly equal the cost of the postage to send them.) The "Notification of Agreement Termination" was a simple one-pager, giving us an exit date and reminding us of the contract's original provisions. We could no longer use Sable Grey's cover art -- but wouldn't that have been nice? -- and we couldn't use the edited manuscript. The unedited version, on the other hand, was ours after August 1st. We could use the rough take in whatever way we'd like.
So here's the plan: New cover. (No, not the one up in the left hand corner. That was a Fiverr cover and created for fun.) Renée is working on it right this second and you can bet there will be a full moon on the thing somewhere. The new edit will go out to beta readers soon -- and, if you're a fan of erotic romance, you need to buy the old version, STAT, while it's still available. The new take is still steamy but the graphic stuff has disappeared behind closed doors. Despite this change, and all of the paragraphs that we lost because of it, the latest manuscript is longer than the original.
Then there's the subject of price. Cobblestone retails the novella for $4.99 but, per our sales ranking, we're guessing the rest of the world thinks this is a little rich for a 67-page novella. We worry that they may be right. We're currently debating the $2.99 price tag versus the 99-cent special.
If you have a suggestion, let us know.
Quote o' the day: "Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel