Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Traditional Publishing: Achievement Unlocked! I'm Signed with Skyscape!

I’ve been holding out on my readers since about December 4th, and it’s time to come clean.
I really don’t remember much about December 4th. The calendar says it was a Thursday. I know that was a “stay at home and write” day, or at least it was intended to be. Maybe I wrote. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t remember.

All I remember is this email that turned up in my inbox, with the subject heading, “Hello from Amazon Publishing!”

Kindle and Amazon send out mass emails, of course. They happen. I didn’t expect this to be anything different, but when I opened it up, I found this:

Hi Elliott,

I hope you’re well! I’m writing as an editor for Skyscape, Amazon’s traditional YA/new adult publishing imprint. I encountered POOR MAN’S FIGHT while browsing the Kindle store, and was instantly drawn in by your fantastic description. I purchased the book immediately and read it over the course of one night…

Have you enjoyed your self-publishing experience? And have you ever considered traditional publishing? 

I responded, of course. I had some hopes. But I’ve also learned not to get my hopes up too high since I first started writing these books. I have been contacted by agents before, including agents from very big and reputable companies, and one time a guy in Hollywood working for a yes-for-reals television agency inquired about the rights for Poor Man’s Fight…but usually it’s just a very brief query that doesn’t go far beyond that. So I responded, I mentioned it to some friends, and my hopes perked up more when Miriam (the editor) and I arranged a phone call. But again, I didn’t let those hopes run away with me.

As it turned out, Miriam said pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear: that Skyscape wanted to take Poor Man’s Fight and Rich Man’s War under their label for traditional publishing!

The deal is signed. We’re full speed ahead. I’m actually reviewing copyedits of Poor Man’s Fight now, and I’ve just filled out the first little bits of paperwork for the audio book.

What does all this mean for Poor Man’s Fight, Rich Man’s War, and the following book(s)? Am I gonna have to Young Adult this thing up and take out all the swearing and face-stabbing? Do I have to slap on a WB-style makeover for the characters and set everything to a mopey emo soundtrack? WILL THERE BE HUGE CHANGES?

No. Well, not HUGE changes. The one big change I’m looking at is a name change, because let’s face it, I made a goof when I named Allison, Alicia and Andrea. That’s one too many A-names to track, especially given what they have in common. Allison’s now looking at a name change. Past that, we’re just looking at fixing some editorial mistakes, and I’m very grateful for the help I’m receiving.

However, the action is still there. The language is still there. Tanner is and will remain a serial interstellar blasphemer. Casey is still Casey. Janeka is still Janeka. The books will remain available on Amazon as they currently are until Skyscape re-launches them, which at the moment looks like June of this year. And I’m extremely happy about all of it.

My other books, for the record, are untouched by the deal, and will remain as they are. I don’t find that disappointing at all; I like them just fine as indie-published works. My racy, not-for-kids urban fantasy line will continue. I need to finish with Volume Three of Well, That Escalated Quickly: The Tanner Malone Story (still no projected date on that yet!), and then it will be time to assess where I go next.

The only real change I’m looking at here is the prospect of reaching many, many more readers, and what writer doesn’t want that?

THANK YOU to all my readers—to everyone who left reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, to everyone who mentioned the book to a friend and who emailed me privately to give their thoughts. This ride just keeps getting better, and I’m so truly grateful for all the support!


  1. Congrats!

    One quick question: on the re-issue, if we purchased the ebook, will our copies update automatically or would we have to re-purchase the book?

    1. I do not know, and that's a good question! I'll have to find out.

    2. I'd be interested to know too if you find out.

  2. If you gotta clean up the language so be it. But can I carry on the foul mouth legacy?

    Cause man.....I read the SHIT out of Poor Man's Fight! :) Congrats to you! I wish all the success in this quadrant.

  3. Best of fortunes to you. I hope being published does not slow up releases like it has for others.

  4. Mr. Kay congrats! If poor man's fight and rich man's war were in paperback I would probably have gone through multiple copies by now. Whenever I can't find something to read that captures my interest I reread them. And every time I'm enthralled in the depth and richness of tanners story. Thank you for sharing it with everyone and I hope this new publisher will allow you to reach many more people with it.

    1. John, PMF and RWM are indeed available as paperbacks! :) You can get them on the Amazon page, or direct through CreateSpace (which, being an arm of Amazon itself, isn't really all that different). But thank you for the kind words regardless!

  5. Silly comment section ate my post. Oh well.
    First of, congrats for signing up with a publishes, I'm already seeing PMF and RMW on the big screen - let's see what celebrity will be thrown in and who'll be need to cast. I also will get myself the audio books once they arrive - it's not quite the same as reading them yourself, but heck, then I can do both at once.
    And I - like many others - are probably already waiting on the next installment of the series. But keep your time, that served you good so far.
    One last thing though... don't feel the need to change the names so much - I actually like the names you chose for those three, and honestly, it'd feel weird to suddenly read of Allison or Alicia as some other name. Especially Allison, I really like that name somehow.
    Anyway, just my two cents recounted as good as possible, and as always: Thank you for writing your books, and may there be many more!

  6. What are the advantages of traditional publishing? It seems like Amazon has removed the primary reason, specifically access to a printing press and the distribution system.

    Do you now collect a smaller royalty?

    (just asking as I have become something of an indie "snob" when it comes to video games and books)

  7. Congrats, dude! Looking forward to the next one.

  8. as another indie writer, I'm curious as to how you built up the word-of-mouth advertising necessary to get above the background noise on Amazon and other sales sites. Did you buy advertising, use social media, or just get lucky?

    1. Jason,
      Sorry I didn't post & respond right away -- I've had to moderate comments to block spam.

      The stuff about polishing your writing & all that kinda goes without saying, because pretty much everyone will tell you that. I think the real secret of my success is that I built up a readership online before I ever put out a book. Good Intentions was originally a serialized story on, and it did very well there--where it was being read entirely for free. I posted each chapter as I finished it, and by the time I was done I was consistently getting dozens of comments and hundreds of votes. At least some of that readership carried over when I self-published it, giving the book reviews & support on Amazon, and they stuck with me when I put out Poor Man's Fight.

      That initial support seems to have been absolutely critical for PMF. Once you've got 10-20 generally positive reviews on your book, that makes it look much more appealing to others.

      There are places besides Literotica to start building a readership. immediately comes to mind, and there are others. I don't know how long that will be the case, because the Internet is an ever-changing animal, and the publishing industry certainly isn't standing still anymore, but that seems to have been a big factor.

      Aside from that? I never did any paid advertising. No blog tours, and only one blogger ever contacted me directly with questions. I'd have been more than happy to talk to others, and I still am happy to do all that, but it's not something that I've actively pursued. That leads me to believe that a lot of this is just straight-up luck.

      I will also say, however, that I invested in original, professional cover art. I had no money at all to put into cover art when I started, but eventually I had a few hundred bucks to spend on it, and that meant a lot. From there, I got working with an industry professional (Lee Moyer), and I've learned a LOT from him. It has made a huge difference.

  9. Oh... It would be a little confusing for readers to see a new-name character in the third book and than realize that it's Allison, doesn't it? Or only the printed versions will have this change? Anyway, if you're not adamant on this decision, I'd say there's no need for this change. This names are wonderful and fits these fine ladies well... Or maybe I just get used to it too much. But, seriously.. Keep it, pleeease.

  10. Publishers... I guess that means slower releases? :'(