I'm beginning to see why many writers I've spoken with about their first book have decided to self-publish subsequent books: getting a good contract is hard. While my publisher seems to be willing to consider the cover I want to use and will give me final say on many aspects of the publication process, they seem to also want to me to give them rights that they won't be using now and for which the compensation is not clear.
That's not acceptable and I may have to walk away but since I've not seen the final contract I'm reserving judgement until then. Still, I see how hard it is for writers to get a good contract and this is probably why a writer friend is urging me to do it all myself.
He has pointed me to several articles on the web that make the case for writers to go directly to bookstores and bypass publishers altogether. This argument is compelling since it requires me to give up no rights and I receive a greater share of the money that is received by the bookstore when a sale is made.
But it is based on the assumption that sales keep trickling in. That's not my experience with self-publishing. My experience is few or no sales. Readers are either unwilling to spend the money for my work or they grab the free sample, putting it on their to-be-read list. While it is nice to be included in the lists, they doesn't help me because they may never belly up the bar and place an order.
Additionally, the likelihood that someone will find you in a bookstore, say Amazon, is slim because the store isn't advertising your book on their home page in most cases and most of us don't have name recognition. Likewise, searching in the genre, say fantasy, will bring back thousands of results and most people won't sift through them.
The end result is we are a direct channel to the market but we are buried under a lot of other stuff. That's where the publisher comes in. The publisher can help you break through all that (at least that's my hope) but that begs the question: at what cost? Is it worth giving up rights to the audiobook version or the screenplay adaption? And that's what I'm wrestling with.
I don't have the answer but I'd love to hear from anyone who does.