Writing for Multiple Publishers
One of the other popular questions I face is how it's possible to juggle writing for five or more publishers at a time. At the moment, I write for Logical-Lust, Loose Id, Mundania, Phaze, and Under The Moon. But how do you make that work?
1. Be prolific. Ideally, you want at least three releases with each publisher to maximize exposure and avoid spreading yourself too thin. In NY, you have little say over release schedules. In indie press, those releases should be within two years or less...a best case scenario.
Note that not everyone is capable of being prolific. An author who naturally writes at a moderate speed will decrease quality by artificially increasing volume of words produced.
2. Have a good feel for what fits each publisher and submit accordingly. If you write in several genres, this may be clear. Other times, it may come down to shades of heat level or kink, dark vs. light, or even the style sheets of individual publishers.
3. Keep a series with a single publisher, barring a complete split with publisher A and move to publisher B; in which case, be prepared to move the series books from A to B, at the end of contract. Note that free reads or anthology shorts for exposure can break this rule.
4. Get yourself into as few deadline dependent situations as possible. Sell already-completed materials as often as you can. When you're on deadline, you have less flexibility. If several publishers send you edits in the same week, it's best if you can drop your writing for a week or two to complete them. Deadlines interfere with that.
5. Be prepared to say 'no.' All publishers have collections, seasonal or themed calls, and so forth. It's nice if you can take part, but commitments to other publishers may preclude it. Don't be afraid to say: “Not this time.” No one takes part in every opportunity.
6. Be up front about your schedule. Don't use it as an excuse, but share your expected release schedule with other publishers when a contract is offered. I already have one release scheduled each for November and December of 2009, February 2010, March 2010, and May 2010 and two for January 2010. Knowing that, if a publisher suggested another January release, I might suggest that February would be better, to spread out the edits and galleys. A publisher would rather have your full attention to a later release than dubious attention to an earlier release.
7. Keep track of style sheets for each publisher, in a database, if necessary. Forgetting which one uses the 14th vs. the 15th edition of Chicago Manual of Style is a minor thing. Submitting in the wrong formatting doesn't win you friends.
8. Remember to stay on topic on a publisher list or chat. Only promote your work with the publisher in question on their lists, blogs, and spotlights. If a reader asks about a book with another publisher, answer off list.
9. Don't sign contracts that counter existing ones. If you've signed contract A with first right of refusal for a series, you cannot sign contract B to another publisher that includes first right of refusal on an entire genre (never a good idea, anyway), which includes the series in contract A. It's a nonenforceable clause and has to be red-lined or tweaked to reflect the preexisting contract.
10. Give all your publishers/books promotional time. Don't short change anyone.