Since my countersigned contract arrived, I can finally announce my big news about selling French World Rights for Print and Ebook on the 3 books you see pictured here to Bragelonne, a noted French publisher of paranormal fiction.
I know you're saying, "But, Joan, you don't write paranormal."
You're right. I don't. Bragelonne is branching out into contemporary romance.
In late August 2011, I received an email from an Editor of Bragelonne who had obtained the ebook of JANE I'm-Still-Single JONES, one of my romantic comedies. She totally loved that book which has been one of my most popular romance novels.
She wanted to know two things: if I was the rights owner and who represented me because she wanted to make an offer for the book.
I replied that I was the rights owner and that I would probably represent myself unless I decided I was out of my depth and sought the counsel of a literary agent. At the time, I had no agent. In fact, I had dismissed my last agent about ten years ago.
Then, I posted on the lists of traditionally published authors to which I belong, requesting information about French rights sales. I'm not posting any names here because these lists are private and what is said on the lists, and by whom, is confidential.
Suffice it to say that a well-known NYT bestselling author who has had numerous foreign rights sales, emailed me and shared her experience. I have to say here that just about all the "big" authors I know are the most generous women around.
Based on what I learned, I decided that this could be very big for me. Therefore, I knew I needed a literary agent to negotiate the contract. I've been in the biz long enough to know that an offer made to an author without representation will be vastly different from an offer made to one who has an agent.
That wasn't an easy decision to make when most of NY publishing seem to consider you unmarketable. *LOL* Or so I had begun to believe which is why I gave up on traditional publishing and became an indie author. I just got tired of the rejection carousel based usually on query letters, not a manuscript.
I knew there was an audience who would appreciate my writing if I could just get my books to them. The creation of the Kindle and Mark Coker's work with Smashwords followed by the Nook from Barnes & Noble made that possible.
The Remarkable J. A. Konrath
I have also been in the biz long enough to know that a bad agent is worse than no agent. I didn't want to make a mistake here because I knew that most agents will take you on if you have a deal on the table. For advice, I turned to Joe Konrath, another generous friend who has helped many of us in our pursuit of finding an audience for our work. J. A. Konrath not only has juice, but also he knows people. (Thank you again, Joe!)
He put me in touch with an agent who immediately agreed to represent me for this deal. (Again, I'm not mentioning names because they don't take walk-ins, and I don't think it's nice to bandy their names about and have them absolutely deluged by writers wanting a similar deal.
At this point, I should probably point out that this deal was a matter of all the planets aligning. A Parisian editor just happened to read my southern fiction and love it at the same time her company was branching into contemporary romance. I mean, what are the odds?
Back To My Story
By the time my agent got in touch with Bragelonne, they had decided they wanted not just 1 book from me, but 3. Also, they didn't want to just republish as ebooks. They wanted Print and Ebook Rights with the print books coming out first.
My agent negotiated with the Editorial Director. In the end, the resulting contract for my first 3 ebook romances, JANE I'm-Still-Single JONES, Just One Look, and Still The One, was evidence that I had made the right decision in retaining an agent. I love it when it's a win for all parties--especially for the writer!
Moral of This Story
1. Sometimes good things happen to good people.
2. The law of miracles has not been repealed.
3. In an eye blink, everything in your world can change.
Most of us experience that in bad ways. I'm thinking of the last 3 years when my daughter developed a blood clot after surgery and could have died if I hadn't got her to the hospital in time--and that was just one complication. Sometimes, sweeping change can be change for the better. Thank you, Lord, that this was one of those times since I've had more than enough of the other kind in the last few years.
4. Something like this can't be planned, controlled, anticipated, or programmed in any way. When it happens, try to make smart decisions and roll with it.
5. I share what I learn.
I published my first ebook the last week of March 2011. Within a month I had sold 1000 copies. The next 1000 took a week; the next 1000, 3 days. Everything went crazy after that. I haven't had time to update my combined spreadsheet, but I ended 2011 with about 150,000 sales or more I think.
I've done an entire blog series about how I did it which may work only for me, but there might be lessons there for everyone. I'm finally compiling all that in Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All which I'll publish in a couple of weeks.
6. Last, but not least, if I hadn't started publishing ebooks, this would never have happened.
I owe everything to the readers who embraced my books. I felt there was an audience for the way I tell a story. I put my work out there, and my audience found me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.