Saying No

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but some of you undoubtedly have seen elsewhere that some weeks ago I was contacted by the editor of a small press that puts out pet books inquiring if I would be willing to write the Rottweiler book in a series of books they’re doing on various breeds for Animal Planet. She sent me a couple of books they put out in a previous series, and I sent her a paperback of Rottweiler Rescue. Those of you with pets will have seen this kind of book in places like PetsMart. They’re hard covers but without a dust jacket.

They weren’t offering a lot of money, but it was an intriguing offer and after some back and forth I asked to see the contract. Oh, my. Maybe what they sent me is a standard contract for this kind of thing, but it left me with my mouth open. The original email offer was for a manuscript of so many words written to their outline, which she sent me, for so much money. The contract had a clause saying I was to provide photographs for the book (a photo intensive book) and that if I didn’t, or they didn’t like what I provided, they could provide the photos and charge the cost against the paltry sum they were supposedly paying me.

There was also a paragraph providing that I warranted that the work was original (fair) and then another where I would indemnify not only them but any third parties they dealt with over the book against lawsuits. I ask you! If this is a standard contract, the world must be full of writers a lot more adventurous than I. My small potato self whose only real asset is her house is not indemnifying a publishing company against anything and probably wouldn’t even if these weren’t such litigious times. My feeling is if they got sued because I plagiarized, they could drag me into that lawsuit at that time or turn around and sue me under the warranty afterwards. Am I an insurance company?

So I’ve turned the offer down, which means I’m back to what I thought would be my schedule for fiction books before all that started. I’m going to spend December cleaning up details over getting Sing out and go back and redo both Eyes and Rottweiler Rescue for the Kindle. At the time I put out those earlier books I didn’t know how to format so that the ebook would have the navigation points possible with K2 and K3, but now I do know. I really find having those nav points that let you flip from the start of one chapter to the start of the next and back very handy in an ebook and want mine to have them.

Unfortunately, it’s my understanding that people who have already bought those books won’t get an updated version even if they delete and re-download. To get a new version of an already published Kindle book, you have to call Amazon and ask. So new buyers will be the only ones to get the advantage of the extra formatting.

Then I’m going to get busy and finish the next Rottweiler mystery, Rottweiler Railroad. After that it will be another romance.

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16 Responses to Saying No

  1. McD says:

    Sounds like a smart move Ellen to leave the non-fiction alone. You would having been doing them all the favours.
    Oh well, more time for you to spend working on the next historical western romance.

  2. Ah, ah, mystery first, then romance. Believe it or not, there are fans of Rottweiler Rescue who really want to see the next one in that series too.

    Since what I feel about turning down the non-fiction contract is relief at not having to do the research that would have been involved, I know it was the right decision. I’m going to remain a pure indie after all.

  3. Paula says:

    Ellen,
    After reading about some of your mom’s sayings, *if everyone liked the same thing…” and reading your interchange over the Romance Forum and contract hassels…I had to put in my 2cents.

    You HAVE to know by now that your fans clearly recognize your talent. I am sure that, as with me, word of mouth will continue to send your writing career zooming. I, too, think you made a good decision with the no-contract and although I am naive on that aspect, I knew you would go with your gut and come out just where you did. Now, as for the Romance Forum…I am sure somewhere back in the recesses of that creative mind of yours, your mom must have had some unique saying about minds that are too narrow and heads too hard to mess with reason. I sure hope so because those kinds of attitudes you have been talking about can sap your energy, your peace of mind, and drain that wonderful talent of yours. Dust those negatives out of your life and recognize the rising star you are rapidly becoming; a mystery & romance author with a bright future… 🙂

  4. Paula – Thanks for the support. I can’t think of any of my mother’s sayings that fit the particular situation, although I wonder if “People judge you by the company you keep,” might be applicable at some level.

    Since I feel none of the regret that kind of niggles at the back of your mind when you turn away from something you half wanted, not doing the non-fiction thing was obviously the right choice for many reasons. Maybe it’s just as well they didn’t offer a contract with no offensive provisions that would have lured me in because I had myself convinced it would be a smart thing to do until I read that contract. ~Ellen

  5. mesadallas says:

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, Ellen but I do think that everything happens for a reason and there must be a very good reason why you just aren’t supposed to take it.In all probability you’ll use the time to come up with a new book that becomes a national best-seller. I really do think you have it in you – and then won’t the gang of harpies at amazon have their feet in their mouths!

  6. Thanks for the support, mesadallas, but I rather think to come up with a bestseller I’d have to switch from cozy mysteries and western romance. Hell will freeze over before I read, much less write, sci fi or paranormal, so that would leave me suspense and thrillers, which I suppose is possible but right now doesn’t seem highly likely. ~Ellen

  7. mesadallas says:

    Think Positive! Two examples of national best seller-ramance that come to mind are Forever Amber and Gone With the Wind.

    It might also interest you to know that both Mark Twain and Virginia Wolf were self-published authors.

    I’m so glad to see you won’t try paranormal or hopefully, time travel. I know it’s all the rage right now especially with young readers, but it’s a genre that just doesn’t interest me in the least.

  8. You don’t have to worry about me writing any of the woo-woo stuff. Someone who posts here and who shall remain nameless talked me into trying Outlander. Admittedly the time travel part wasn’t what put me off, but I am one of those for whom that book just didn’t cut it.

    I wasn’t ever that taken with it, but when I got to the description of the red fuzz on Jamie’s butt, I was lost. IMO if a guy has a fuzzy butt and wants to be a romance hero, he’d better start waxing. Anyway, I gave up shortly after the beating with belt bit. Thought I’d just read the end, came up in the middle of graphic homosexual rape, and was so out of there.

    I know a lot of famous books were self-published at one point, but I didn’t know that Gone With the Wind was one of them. Wow. Still if a romance were to sweep the boards, so to speak, I sincerely doubt it would be a western – although Lonesome Dove did well and not that long ago. It wouldn’t rate as one of my own favorite westerns but like for Outlander, a lot of the rest of the world felt differently.

    ~Ellen

  9. mesadallas says:

    Red fuzz on his butt? Thank’s for the head-up, or tail-up in this case. Haven’t read it and I think I’ll pass. I don’t know if Gone With the Wind was self-published, I used it as an example of a romance novel that became a national bestseller.

    I wouldn’t give up on westerns coming back into the rage. Everything seems to make the rounds. Just like kids fads. One year it’s marbles and every kid at school just has to have them, then the pogs come back, then marbles again.

    As much as I love westerns I have to agree with you on Lonesome Dove. It’s funny, but I began to read the novel and didn’t think it was all that even though I have just loved the movies based on it. One of the few times I’ve enjoyed the film over the book. And as you said, most people didn’t agree with my opinion either.

  10. Ah, okay I understand now about GWTW.

    Do you ever wonder with books like Lonesome Dove how many people who bought it, really read it? I had trouble getting through it, and I’m a western fan. (Yes, the movies were better – with those actors how could they not be.) I also wondered that with Presumed Innocent. It was the last book I ever forced myself to finish, and it took me weeks of tedium instead of the 2 or 3 days a book like that would normally take.

    One of the things that makes me wonder is that I had a conversation years ago in the grocery store with someone about Ken Burns PBS series The Civil War. IMO it was terrific. I not only watched it, I taped it and have watched it again several times since then. I think the subject came up in the grocery because they were selling something related to the series.

    Anyway, I said it was wonderful blah, blah, and this guy agreed with me, oh, yeah, yeah. More conversation and it turned out he hadn’t watched it at all. No one in his family watched it, but his mother recorded it! So I wonder with some of these enormously popular books if lots of people buy them and many fewer read them. ~Ellen

  11. mesadallas says:

    You and I seem to have a lot of similar interests. I also loved Ken Burns Civil War series, own it, and have watched it many times.

    Probably a lot of people who buy best sellers just don’t get around to reading them. Myself, I never buy a book unless I fully intend to read it.

    I have an interesting tid-bit about Lonesome Dove. I used to live next door to the actor that played the part of the doctor that cut off Robert Duval’s leg.His name was Keven O’Morrison. He was a really nice old man. He was about 80 when he played the part. We lived in a pretty modest middle-class neighborhood in Edmonds, Washington which surprised me at the time because I was under the mistaken impression that character actors made more than they actually do.

  12. If you’re a Civil War junkie, we have a lot in common. The sheer scope of it fascinates me. How different people had to have been in those days that such a much smaller population bore up under those kinds of casualty rates and burdens.

    I’m also like you in that if I buy a book, I start reading it. Any more I will throw something aside pretty quickly if I don’t like it. With the Kindle and the opportunity to sample, that’s not too terrible a problem, but I have found all too many books that start out well and lose it somewhere in the middle or even towards the end with poor plotting.

    Unlike so many who say they have long lists of TBR, I usually have less than half a dozen samples on my Kindle. I read a sample, delete it or buy the whole book. If I buy the book, I start reading it then and there.

    I don’t remember the doctor who cut Gus’s leg off in the movie, but I do know that actors are like writers. Everybody thinks of the James Pattersons of the world, but in truth very few people make a living writing. Even authors who sell regularly but not in bestselling quantities need day jobs and many only hold on by their fingernails. For me at least, this indie business is superior – no sucking up to young twit agents or editors, no promoting except from the comfort of home, write what I want when I want. While I’m not earning anything like a living, I don’t need that either. I needed a decent supplemental income, and ever since Amazon raised their royalty rate, I’ve had that. Yippee! ~Ellen

  13. mesadallas says:

    I love the Civil War! That and the westward movement are my two favorite periods of American history.

    How is Sing doing so far?

  14. Ellen,
    I have just posted a review on amazon which I hope will bring your overall rating to 5 stars where it belongs. I have read romance for more than 30 years (god am I admitting that?!?!) and I have to tell you I have not, at least not in a long time, been so captivated by a book (Sing and Eyes) that I couldn’t put it down. I loved Matt/Sarah and Cord/Ann – different and yet compelling in their own manner – I am with you – not so loyal – I fell for them both 😉 Can’t wait to see your next offering…

  15. Val from Jersey says:

    I have rarely felt compelled to write to many authors,but you have inspired me to write. I have ben reading romance for many yearsand there is probably no one you could name that I haven’t read and many that I have read every book they have ever writen,and you wil be in that catagory.I bought SING on my kindle after it recieved DIK status on AAR,but I didn”t expect it to capture me from page 1>I loved this book and hope you wil continue to write many more. After reading it, I imediately bought EYES and loved that book even more.Just wanted to tel you how much I love your writing.You are right up there with Julie Garwod,Judith MCnaught,Lisa Klepsis,Susan Elizabeth Philips,Laura Kinsale and many more. Higher praise I could not give you. val

  16. Wow, Val, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the books so much. I’m just getting over a creeping crud that has laid me low, and your post is a big boost. ~Ellen

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