Offered a Traditional Publishing Contract? Know the Facts…and Fiction By Gary Gabelhouse

In 2001, I began to write my first fiction manuscript. Three years later, I’d established a website, and began to upload information about the title. Imagine my surprise and excitement when, not more than two months after my finishing it, an acquisition editor for a good-size publisher read my web excerpts, and requested the full manuscript. I remember I was beside myself with anxiety as I received nothing back…day after day.

When I began to gird my loins (whatever the hell that means) to start the selfless task of targeting and submissions, I received an email that changed my life. The publisher had agreed to purchase my first novel.

What followed was a series of events that made me giddy:

A) My title’s cover was on the front cover of the publisher’s catalog.
B) My novel landed on Page 4 of the publisher’s catalog.
C) My novel was “A-Listed” by the publisher.
D) My editor told me they were featuring me and my novel at BEA and I would have a signing there.
E) I was given a publicist who would arrange for a signing tour in the Midwest U.S., where I lived.

I was on cloud nine, and really believed that…I had arrived. It was then that I learned the true nature of traditionally published fiction.

I had been a media-marketing consultant for over twenty years, used to dealing with two-tier distribution of published products (prerecorded video, music and video games). Since many motion-picture companies and video-game publishers paid me for my consultation on product marketing, I figured my publisher would appreciate me developing a marketing plan for my first novel. Having been the CEO of a sales-driven services business for many years, I also thought they’d like my ideas on trade sales (sales to retailers, libraries, etc.) I felt that I was not only their A-Listed author, I was a seasoned, media-sales and marketing executive who had been working at the very apex of the media industry longer than most of my publisher’s staff had been alive.

I developed a complete sales and marketing plan for my title, and offered that plan (through my editor) to the VP’s of Sales and Marketing of my publisher. I emailed them, and called them to confirm their receipt of my sales-and-marketing manifesto. As it comes out, neither ever emailed me or called me back. Never talked with me either, and my plan was totally ignored.

I also quickly learned that my publicist had an extremely limited vision, and had no intentions of doing anything different than she had done for the past ten or fifteen years. Every A-Listed author got a news release sent to a few publications, and that was it. The publicist did set up one book signing in my hometown. But other than that…she just moved onto the next A-List author and sent out her news release. I was stunned. She DID return a call once, but claimed that other than the news release, she was authorized to do no more. She did recommend I get cozy with an independent bookstore owner so that they would recommend me to Book Sense. Of course I DID that, and my title was nominated – but it was all up to me.

And, that is how I found the whole traditional-publishing experience: If I didn’t do it, nothing happened to help sell and market my title – despite the fact that I was an “A-List author”.

After another publisher bought and published my second novel, I was at least prepared for the ugly truth. My dream of living off my largess as my publishers worked hard to sell and market my books was a total fallacy.

After two tragically comedic publishers, I knew I had to find an alternative. It was at that point in my writing life that I discovered

I published my third novel with Based on my previous experience, and understanding the publishing model, I KNEW that the sales and marketing of my book would be my responsibility. The only difference between that and being traditionally published was that I received a much bigger share of royalties. So, I entered into the contract with eyes wide open, and expecting no help whatsoever. Imagine my amazement at the reality.

The free ebook given to all authors, 90 DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan, was a gem, and FULL of helpful concepts – concepts that worked. I read and reread that, and became a member of Angela’s weekly listserve, I also found I received more personal attention than I did when I was an A-List author at a traditional publisher. My cover-design experience was incredible – especially compared to the covers developed by my previous publishers. All in all, I definitely feel that my publishing experience with far exceeds the efforts of traditional publishers.

Some may feel they could be wildly successful if only a big publisher would acquire their work. From where I stand, and at the end of the day, that will just not happen. I feel blessed to be selling and marketing my titles myself – with’s help – which is real. I have received more actual help and assistance in selling my novel through their services than I ever received from traditional publishers when I was an A-Listed novelist.

Gary Gabelhouse has worked as a naturalist, biology teacher, dock worker, pastor, hod carrier, climbing guide, martial-arts instructor, magician, door man, river guide, motion-picture consultant, musician, writer, sales executive, and is currently an author and CEO of a media-research firm. Hobbies include bonsai cultivation, collecting art, religious artifacts and Japanese swords.