Terry Goodkind's latest Sword of Truth offering is a self-published novel titled The First Confessor (USA, Europe). It was initially supposed to be published by Tor Books, yet it looks as though something went wrong between the two parties. . .
Borderland Books have an interesting story regarding bestselling author Terry Goodkind going down the self-publishing route. Here's an excerpt:
The current ebook was apparently scheduled to be published by Tor but was withdrawn quite recently. However, despite the current ebook, Goodkind has said he will still be publishing with Tor and that there will be another book soon. Given that, according to his own blog, the ebook was finished a few weeks ago, I wonder what the quality of the novel delivered to Tor will be. Unless it's already written and delivered (in which case I'd expect it would be announced already), he's going to have to haul ass to get something to them soon enough for it to come out anytime near his promised "sometime later this year, possibly early next."
To my eye the picture overall looks like Goodkind left Tor for more money (probably) and a bigger audience (by writing a main-stream thriller). He failed to get anything like the sales that his new publisher was looking for and either they kicked him to the curb or he broke the contract. The he went back to his old publisher, who took him on. But then, not happy with them for some reason, he has now decided to self-publish.
Bear in mind that Tor, the publisher he's treated this way, is the company that gave him his start. Granted, publishing is complicated, being an author is hard, and that combination makes for some difficult decisions. But still, perhaps Mr. Goodkind is not the most loyal fellow on the planet.
What is interesting to me is the possible long-term effect of authors going the self-publishing route after building a reputation with a traditional publisher. Goodkind isn't the only 'big name" author who has chosen to dump his or her publisher in favor of self-publishing. When that happens it's a bitter pill for publishers who have taken a risk publishing an author in the first place and then spent a fair amount of time and money promoting the author; which made the author popular enough to profitably self-publish. Of course I'm not suggesting that authors should be permanently tied to their publishers. There are many solid reasons that authors should go looking for a different publisher -- a bad relationship with their editor, publishers failing to live up to their obligations, an unwillingness to support a direction that the author wants to take with their work, and so on.
But I think that working with a company for as long as it's convenient and profitable, then leaving them when it looks like you'll make more money elsewhere is a bit questionable. Writing isn't like working a "normal" job. A publisher and an author work together to sell as many books as possible. Granted, the power imbalance between the two parties often makes it a strained partnership (usually the publisher has much more power than the author, though this shifts based on how much income the author brings in) but it is still more of a partnership than an employee / employer relationship. If an employee gets a better offer, I don't think that there is usually anything wrong with them changing jobs. But when a partner in a business leaves to make more money elsewhere and reduces the remaining partner's business in the process . . . I think that the partner left behind is justified in feeling ill-used.
On his blog, Goodkind posted a statement that doesn't much about why The Last Confessor is being self-published. Here's an extract:
It's important to note a few things about what we're doing with THE FIRST CONFESSOR and why;
(1) It's not a money thing. We gave up a very lucrative advance and we risk all rewards, putting the content of the book first. It's success will now live and thrive upon your appreciation and acceptance.
(2) The publishing world does not like what we're doing. Upon release, this book will effectively be banished by publishers. It is unlikely you will ever see it in print (unless you managed to get one of the 300 Limited Collector's Editions which sold out very quickly).
(3) We've kept this book under lock and key, without any outside interference. We've brought it to you within weeks of having finished the final keystroke (with enough time for editing review and testing) and we plan on supporting it for a long-time to come. That means updates, free things on our website, additional content at a later date, and much more.
(4) I am still going to be publishing traditional, printed novels. Tor Books (my long-time publisher) will be releasing the sequel to THE OMEN MACHINE sometime later this year, possibly early next.
(5) We did it this way because we could, because the story needed to be told, and this was the best way to tell it. We love this book and you will too. It is possibly one of the most important stories I have ever written and it stands as the beginning of a long and perilous journey that eventually becomes the lives of Richard and Kahlan. To say Magda Searus is important would be an incredible understatement. She is the beginning and so is this book.
Personally, I think that it's just another "normal" day at the office for the Yeard. . .