So I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year. For the second year in a row, it's because I'm in the middle of other projects. Book #2 is under contract and due, Book 10 has to actually be finished, book 3 needs revision for the end of the year, and after that I've got a novel in another genre to revise for my agent to shop around.
I know, you're all playing the world's tiniest violin. Still, there is a singular frustration of not being able to write whatever I want because I have to revise what I've already written and am now sick of. I've always found revision harder than writing. I'm sure a lot of writers, published and unpublished, feel the same way. On to the questions!
Sorry for hitting you with an email, but challenged as I am, couldn't figure out how to ask the question on your blog spot. Very helpful blog, by the way, so thanks.
My first novel was published by a small company is 2007. They did pretty much nothing in the way of editing, promotion, etc., and I have received one royalty statement since May, 2007. My second book, due out this year, is also signed with them. I have been considering legal action to regain the rights to both books, but I have heard this might be wasted money, as many publishers won't touch previously published books. Is this consistent with your experience?
There seem to be a couple questions buried in this, so let me address them:
(1) They are obligated to provide you with royalties as often as your contract designates. If you don't earn any money, they are still obligated to provide statements proving you made no money. Failing to do so can void your contract with them. If you are having problems getting royalties, get an agent. Start emailing around with your problem (published author needs to re-negotiate contract) and I'm sure at least 10 people will jump up to take the free-meal deal there.
(2) If the second book is due but not gone to press (meaning, they haven't started printing copies of the book for sale yet), you can back out of your contract under certain conditions. "Not paying royalties on previous book" is probably one of them. Breaking a contract means you forfeit the advance, if you had one to begin with. Get an agent.
(3) I don't know how "small" this company is or what kind of deal they actually did in promoting your book. Most books barely break even for the company anyway, and very often new authors get lost at big companies and have similar complaints. Let's assume for the sake of argument that they did screw you, and you feel that a better company could do a better job. Well, you're not in a great spot here. Big publishers do love to buy the rights to books from little publishers and are willing to shell out money to do it, on the condition that the book was doing well for the small house and the large house wants to republish it and reap the rewards on owning the rights to an already-edited novel they don't have to work very hard on. Your book didn't do well, so that's not going to happen. My advice, in terms of your writing career, is to write a third book and try to sell it another house. If you really feel compelled to get out of your previous contracts, get an agent, who may then want to edit and re-market the book to bigger companies and might have the capabilities to do that. It's not unheard of. Either way, don't bank on the first two books being the start of your career. Write another one to start your career with.