What happens when a publishing house goes under?


I recently read about a friend who published with a smaller house and when they went under her book dropped out of print. I have to confess this is a fear that has crossed my mind. A book is an investment of years, just the thought of loosing your contract sends a chill down my spine.

What ever happens to a book that goes out of print? I’m sure there have been quite a few. Can you ever resell the manuscript? Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting too many eggs in one basket by preparing to write a whole series of books for one publisher. I wonder if I should try to write another book at the same time and sell it somewhere else, but at the same time… I know this is probably more work than I can handle!

Just some random thoughts. On a positive note all of this leads me to conclude that writers/publishers/editors/agents must be among the most resilient/optimistic people on the planet. πŸ™‚ The publishing industry is labour intensive, heart-breaking and offers little return… and yet… and yet… I still know that this is what I’ll do with the rest of my life.

PS Happy news! My husband and I are buying our first home! Yeah! I’m going to get a real office… and an island in the kitchen. πŸ™‚


About cjgosling

I paint, I sing, I walk in the rain. I'm clumsy and I love the smell of campfire. My head is full of imaginary things and the only thing I ever really want to do in life is write. My first book "Shadowlands: The Guardian" was released in Feb. 2011. The sequel is coming in 2012! View all posts by cjgosling

One response to “What happens when a publishing house goes under?

  • Rusty B.

    >Peace of mind is important. I know I face these issues when I try to decide what I am going to do with my 4 books. Dance with the big publishers for years until the book is tweaked to their liking, possibly having the book lose its unique audience and flavor. Self publish but then going broke trying to fund the kind of professional artwork and editing a publisher would normally do. Go with a small publisher and then face a raft of security, distribution and finish issues. I finally came to the conclusion that after a certain deadline, I would self publish the book. I do this full time, I have no job, so there is a point where the money runs out. So given that is decided, that means that goal drives all decisions. So in choosing a small publisher, the important thing is that if they go under, you want to be able to self publish. So that means you need the key clause in the contract: "After six months of no sales, all rights revert back to you." Better is the additional clause that if the company goes under, the rights revert, though some publishers don't want to write that because they may want to sell your book rights out of bankruptcy. The real clause that you need but I am not sure you can get is that if the book rights revert, that you receive the edited manuscript and rights to use the associated art work. With that clause, you can put the book out yourself if the company fails. Really, going with a small house tags you just as if you had self publish in the eyes of the big publishers. So you have to view it as self publishing where someone else is paying the bill.

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