Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Authors Reject Publisher
“A writer can make a fortune in America, but he can't make a living.”
- James A. Michener

After many decades in effect, the above has now pretty much stopped being true. The current revolution in the publishing industry has turned the ancien regime on its head. Case in point:

Last week Glynn and I met with some very nice folks at a small-to-maybe-midsized publisher who wanted to buy the print rights to our Arisen series. (And also some of the e-rights, in their ideal scenario).

While they were extremely nice and funny and clearly passionate about books – as well as rather geeky: their CEO is a knight who actually jousts (*) – and we enjoyed the visit as well as a nice pub lunch, and while their ideas were good and their offer fair and it would have been great to have some handsome omnibus paperback editions up on the shelf… we ultimately had to decide that, in the end, this path didn't take us where we wanted to go. They were planning on an initial print run of 10,000 copies. But we've already sold 100,000 books on our own. And our next goal is to sell a million. Crazy? Perhaps. But, for the moment, we decided to keep the crazy dream alive, keep building our world and readership, and keep our options open for a bigger deal, from a bigger player, down the road. And, until then or barring that, we're going to do our own paperback editions, and hold on to the rights ourselves.

So I just sent them a very gently worded rejection letter. How's that for a sea change? (Having spent a decade in the wilderness, receiving thousands of rejections myself, I feel entitled to say it is.)

To a great extent, in the end the decision came down to this one: whether we think we've peaked or not. (*) And, to borrow a line from the American conservatives and neocons: “decline is a choice.” One we're declining to make.

Put another way: we're doubling down – on us.

Oh, yeah – Michener also said:

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”

Now – onward and upward! And very many thanks indeed to everyone who has supported us so faithfully to this point.

Update:
If you're of the mind that my own experience is unique or at least very unusual, then check out self-pub'd bestselling phenom Hugh Howey's data-driven demonstration that an awful lot of self-pub'd authors, having escaped the New York/London system, are not only making very good money – but are on the verge of dominating.

And if you think the traditional system wasn't so bad for authors, check out J.A. Konrath's deconstruction of the unconscionability of standard publishing contracts.

Basically, big publishing houses had a monopoly on the distribution of books for decades, and acted accordingly. Now that lock is broken – and, as smarter people than I have pointed out, it turns out the only indispensible people in the publishing process are readers and writers.

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about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (2014); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of spec-ops zombie apocalypse dark action thrillers. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
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