This Wall Street Journal article on Darcie Chan’s experience publishing The Mill River Recluse as an indie ebook is pretty dated (December 2011), but it’s new to me. Back at the time of the article, Chan had sold 413,000 copies at the $.99 price point, earning about $130,000. This on a book that had been rejected by a hundred agents, and then, under representation, by a dozen publishers. And six months later, the book’s still selling: it’s ranked 787 in the Kindle store, as of this morning.
What strikes me about the article is that Chan is portrayed as still very much wanting a traditional publishing deal for the The Mill River Recluse:
Multiple audio-book publishers have made offers. Six film studios have inquired about movie rights. Two foreign publishers bid on the book. Ms. Chan is holding off on such deals, for fear they might sabotage a potential contract with a domestic publisher.
Ms. Chan still wants to see her book in print. Several librarians have contacted her seeking print copies after patrons requested her book. “I have people writing me begging me for a hard copy, book clubs and libraries calling me, and I don’t have a hard copy to provide for them,” she says. (accessed 6/1/12)
So, it’s not that she hopes to use The Mill River Recluse as a springboard to getting a contract for future books. It’s this book she wants under contract. But why?
I doubt it’s about money — the article points out that Chan has already made quite a bit more than first-time traditionally published authors usually get in the way of advance. Plus, she says writing is “more of a hobby” for her, since she works full-time as a lawyer (accessed 6/1/12). It’s hard to see a simple desire for a hard copy as the motivator, either. After all, she could use print on demand to produce such a book, but hasn’t.
So what is it, exactly? Why isn’t it enough to be providing a very well received novel to readers at an incredibly affordable price, while making a nice chunk of change?
I wonder if Chan still feels the same way and, if so, whether she’s any closer to getting what she wants.