Why I Turned Down A Three Book Deal
By Abiola Bello, co-founder of The Author School. Author of Emily Knight I am... &'Emily Knight I am...Awakened
I self published my first book in 2012. Not because I wanted too, but because I couldn't get an agent, which meant I couldn't get a traditional deal. It didn't help that Harry Potter and Twilight were at their peak, so even though YA was popular, if it wasn't magic or vampires–forget about it.
I did loads of research and self published my book. I was 23 years old and it was the best decision I made. Why? The amount of doors that opened up for me was unreal and funnily enough, I got signed to an agent 6 months later. This book helped me meet my partner in crime Helen and of course it made The Author School possible.
Now don't get me wrong, of course I would love a traditional six figure book deal and I still strongly believe I will get one. My book has been sent to the big 5 and there were two deals, we thought would go through and after months, it didn't happen. Yes, I was gutted, but it was okay because I knew I had self published once successfully, I could do it again.
Then last year, I was offered a three book deal. It was like the heavens had opened. I was so happy, I couldn't even put it into words. I was just about to self publish my second book and now a publishing house wanted to do it for me.
I contacted David Daley, a lawyer from Bloomsbury Publishing, who goes to my church. I asked him to look through the contract for me. I was in shock when David wasn't as enthusiastic as I was after reading the contract. He talked me through it and it wasn't as great as I thought. I was so upset and felt defeated, but David said he would re-write it and send it to the publishers, and if they agreed then I could sign.
I kept my hopes up and the publishers did agree to most of the changes, just not all of them. After that I felt a little less confident in the deal and wasn't sure if they truly understood my book and what I wanted to achieve.
I could have signed the deal because it was fine, but it wasn't perfect. It then made me think, what do authors sign away to get a traditional deal?
In the end (and I thought about it for ages) I decided not to go with the deal. Do I regret it? Sometimes, I think should I have been more flexible? Not aimed as high? But that's the problem, I do aim high with everything and I have worked really hard to build up my book platform. Plus, there are so many different ways to publish, we are so lucky! I wasn't stuck in a hole and I wasn't at a dead end. I had a lot more opportunities than I thought, and so do you.
Explore your options and pick what's best, not what's convenient. Maybe I'm too attached to my book and it's hard to give away control? Maybe my third book that is currently getting edited, will have better luck. Who knows? But what I am confident about is that no matter what publishing route I take, my book will be successful and so can yours.
Getting Ahead of The Publishing Game 2017: Different Publishing Routes with Helen and Abiola on January 23rd at The Calder Book Shop & Theatre, 51 The Cut, London SE1 8LF, from 6.30-8.30pm. Early bird tickets £25. Usual price £30. Limited tickets available
Book Deals and Contracts with guest speaker David Daley, lawyer at Bloomsbury Publishing on March 13th at CitizenM London Bankside, 20 Lavington Street SE1 ONZ. Early bird tickets £65. Usual price £75. Seven classes with guest speakers.
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