August 11th, 2011 | 3 Comments
K. L. Brady is the author of “The Bum Magnet”, which won the first prize of 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Multicultural Fiction, as well as the Third Place Grand Prize Winner for Best Fiction of 2010. Currently living in D.C. with her son, working as an analyst for major government contracting firm, she is also an active real estate agent with Exit Realty by day—and writes by night (often into the wee hours of the morning).
Experienced with both self-publishing, creating her own imprint and being published by one of the Big6, K. L. Brady as generously agreed to take the time to enlighten us about the ins and outs of the publishing world.
Your book The Bum Magnet is already a big success and has been published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books last March 2011. Yet, initially in 2009, you self-published it creating your own imprint, LadyLit Press for the purpose. Why did you create an imprint rather than simply publishing it?
During the time that I initially put out my novel, self publishers were still being snubbed in the publishing industry. I put my novel out just before indie authors were selling ebooks by the millions. Back then, a few thousand was considered awesome. So, I created the imprint to create the “illusion” that my book was published by an independent publisher rather than self published, to help increase its respectability. Did it help? Probably a little bit…but at the end of the day, the readers didn’t really care. The only people who cared were authors and publishers.
What does creating an imprint entails?
For me, thinking up a name and using it. In the state of Maryland, an individual can use a Doing Business As (or DBA) name to conduct business, even if they haven’t set up a company or registered the name. With that said, it only costs $25 to register it so no one else can use it so why not? Pretty simple. Folks should check with their state tax administration for rules on business names and trademarks.
After reaching success and fame on your own, why did you move to a traditional publishing agent?
Even though I was selling several hundred books a month (which at that time—pre Amanda Hocking–was pretty remarkable), I wanted to reach a larger audience and even with all my hustle, I could not match the distribution of a major publisher. So, when an editor reached out to me and expressed her interest in acquiring my novel, I took the opportunity. Moreover, I wanted the opportunity to work with an editor at a publishing house so that I could grow as a writer. It has really increased my professionalism and respect for what publishers do. The editing alone is incredible. It’s amazing what I don’t catch.
Over four month after moving to Simon & Schuster, how would you say it has affected your sales figures, whether in number of books sold or in actual revenue?
Keep in mind that when I accepted my publishing deal, my novel was pulled off the market for about 9 months. So, I lost a lot of momentum for that reason. My publisher also created a new cover so I believe people didn’t recognize it because I went from a brightly colored illustrated cover to a model. So, I understood that I would have some rebuilding at the outset.
With that said, it has increased my print sales enormously. I mean, my novel is sold in Target, Walmart, as well as bookstores and I’ve sold out of many of them in my area…and I imagine others. So, I’m reaching an audience I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
My ebook sales aren’t the same which was to be expected. I sold my novel at 99 cents before and now Simon & Schuster sells them at $7.99. But as I said, over time as I get more reviews and visibility, and particularly as the sequel comes out in a few months, I have no doubt sales will improve.
Did moving to Simon & Schuster reduce the level of marketing you perform yourself?
Let this be myth-buster #1. No. As a matter of fact you almost feel pressure to do more marketing because your sales figures actually count and may affect your ability to get published traditionally in the future. I’m still hustling the same as I did before in terms of marketing. The difference is that I don’t have to spend so much time putting a physical book together, thinking up cover designs, coordinating the different processes, which allows me more time for writing.
With that said, I have no qualms with going back to self publishing if for some reason a book that I truly believe in doesn’t get picked up in traditional channels. As a matter of fact, I’ve done that with my first young adult novel.
Simon & Schuster asked you to edit your book with their own in-house editing services. How would you say it affected the content of you book?
Not at all. I turned in a pretty clean manuscript and they made minimal changes to my content, which is probably among the reasons they acquired it. It was a strong story and fairly well edited to begin with. Actually, my agent asked for more changes than the publisher did and he didn’t ask for many.
Did your self-attained success in publishing enable you to obtain better conditions from Simon & Schuster than you would have as an unpublished writer?
Better conditions? I would say no. At least I haven’t experienced it yet. Remember it’s been about four or five months. Booking signings hasn’t really been easier, they just take a little longer to brush you off. I would say that when people ask me who my publisher is, saying Simon & Schuster gets more raised eyebrows and fewer eye rolls. (lol) Now, I imagine this experience is much different for celebrities or blockbuster first-time authors with a lot of marketing dollars behind them like a Kathryn Stockett. Let’s just say, I’m no Kathryn Stockett. (lol)
Your second book, ” Worst Impressions: a Romantic Comedy “, is also published by LadyLit Press, a mere month after “The Bum Magnet” moved to Simon & Schuster. Why did you choose that road?
As I said before, if I have a book that I believe in and the industry doesn’t pick it up, I’m going to publish it through LadyLit Press and not think twice about it. The feedback I’ve gotten from teenage girls who’ve read the book is all the satisfaction that I need. They love it. Do I wish I could get wider distribution for it? Sure. But as I expand my name and brand with my traditionally published books, I’m hoping that it will have a positive impact on my LadyLit Press titles as well. We’ll see.
Your upcoming book “Got a Right to Be Wrong”, due on the 31st of January 2012, will be published by Gallery, a different imprint of Simon and Schuster. Why two different imprints?
I should probably start at the beginning. Simon & Schuster did some reorganizing within the past couple of years and Pocket Books, it’s mass market paperback imprint, was actually placed under the authority of Gallery, which does trade paperback and some hardcover sales. My first novel was published in mass paper, likely because the financial risk is lower and print costs for mass paper is a lot cheaper. So, for my second novel, my editor requested that my novel be published as a trade paperback and the publisher agreed. What’s the difference between trade and mass paperback? Well, trade paperback is a little higher quality and a little more expensive than mass market books. This enables them to get more revenue per book sold. I’m guessing my initial sales have been going well enough that they feel my audience will pay for the upgrade when the sequel is published. I hope so too!
Thank you Karla for answering our questions. We look forward to discovering your new book “Got a Right to Be Wrong” next February.
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