Hey cHEwY gum gums
On Sunday, I went to see my favourite NRL team, Wests Tigers face off against Parramatta Eels. While they lost, it was still a great occasion to celebrate Benji Marshall’s 300th NRL game. He is my all-time favourite Wests Tigers player. However back in 2013, after a decade of loyalty to the Tigers, he was let go and he ended playing for other clubs like St George Illawarra Dragons. I’m glad he’s able to finish back where he first started. It is rare for one player to stick to the same club for their whole career. Loyalty rarely gets rewarded in sports. Just ask any sports fan.
But it makes me wonder, as a writer, is it worth sticking to one publisher for their whole career? Would they be rewarded for that loyalty. I suppose it’s something that all writers have to go through, when contracts get offered or renewed, or dream scenario 101: when 500 publishers are bidding for your work.
When I first started out writing, I met many authors who were with multiple publishers. Each publisher marketed and promoted their books with no fuss. I’ve been to festivals where one author had 2-3 publicists from different publishers, all looking after them. It’s just a business after all. On the flip side, I also know many authors who have stayed with the same publisher for most of their career. They just started with the one publisher and have remained ever since. That’s me, having been with Penguin Random House so far. Yet, I can’t say that it was a conscious decision to stick by them for loyalty’s sake, more that they keep wanting more books and it’s worked out like a charm. Perhaps that’s how you end up a one-team player, bit by bit as the years roll on.
I don’t blame authors who jump ship or get involved with many publishers. Having more books out there in the world is always a good thing. Writers have to have to make a living, so they will only stay with a publisher if it makes financial sense to them. If they can get a better deal elsewhere, then they’ll go. Readers will follow them to the new publisher, because they’re loyal to the author. I think while writers may not be loyal to a particular brand or company, they may be loyal to a person. I know a few authors who love their editor or publisher boss so much that when they moved to another publishing company, they followed suit.
There are some perks for being with the same publisher. Whenever I bring out a new book, Penguin will promote my older books and my back list. In fact, they recently re-jacketed all my covers and did a big marketing push for them. Yet, the truth is, a publisher will push hard for their authors, regardless if they have 1 or 20 books with them.
So that’s why you can have someone like Paul Jennings, who recently got his CBCA lifetime achievement award be celebrated equally by both Penguin and Allen and Unwin, even if Penguin have published most of his books. Honestly, I don’t think his readers would mind who he’s published with, because he is still pumping out awesome books.
I’m in this writing game for the long haul, and while I’m happy where I am at the moment, who’s to say where I’ll be in 10 years time? The main thing I want to be is still being published.
At the end of the day, writers want the best for their books. So they will go with the publisher that will fight for them the hardest.
So yeah, I won’t be tattooing the Puffin logo on my shoulder just yet haha. I only hope my loyal cHEwY gum gums will continue to follow me, wherever I go.