HELP! I’m a Mid-List Author

Author Sales are Going Down

In the current publishing environment, many mid-list authors have taken hits. Some mid-list authors can and do keep writing, enjoy healthy sales, and have great careers while rarely hitting a bestseller list. This is a great and rewarding path. However, in recent times, market changes and the closing of fiction lines in particular have left some mid-list authors without a home. Or perhaps simply in a career slump.

For the purpose of this post, I am defining mid-list as the large group of solid performers who have not yet broken into the ranks of consistent bestsellers. A number of authors fall into this category.

Please consult your agent for advice tailored to your career, but here are some options to think about:

1.) Change genres. This is not the same as chasing the market, but could put you in an area where there is more opportunity. If you do change genres, I recommend writing a complete book to be sure you enjoy your new genre, and consulting your agent about marketing possibilities.

2.) Use a pen name. This has the disadvantage of putting you in a starting position, but it also gives you a chance to reboot. This is a big decision that will need to be handled with skill and finesse, so be sure to consult your agent and editor before making this move.

3.) Become a hybrid author. Get the rights to your back list if you don’t already have them and publish those titles. Augment them with fresh new works. This is not a drastic move, but please fill your agent in on any plans to be a hybrid author to keep him in the loop.

4.) Seek a new publishers. With your agent’s assistance, you may find a new home with fresh ideas and a new attitude.

5.) Stay the course. You may be strong enough to weather the slump. Keep writing!

Your turn:

Have you noticed any of your favorite authors making new moves?

Are you thinking of changing your career path?

 

10 Responses to HELP! I’m a Mid-List Author

  1. Vannetta Chapman October 30, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    I honestly don’t know whether I’m mid-list or not! lol. But I agree with the basic point of your article–that it’s important to keep developing who we are as an author. Thanks for the post!

  2. Ann Shorey October 30, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Recently a popular author completely left the business (because of current publishing conditions) to go back to school and train for a different career path. Do you see this happening with other authors? What are your thoughts on this?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray October 30, 2014 at 7:48 am #

      Ann, I think finding a new career is an option if it seems right for the author. For instance, I have noticed many people work several decades at a career, then decide to become pastors after retirement. With people living longer and staying healthy, the trend for a long time has been to have more than one career.

  3. Joyce Mandeville October 30, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    Although I’m a published and well-reviewed mid-list novelist, I haven’t been able to find an agent who is interested in signing me. I recently had three novels re-issued by Little, Brown UK, but I haven’t been able to find representation for my two newest novels. Not exactly whining, but it does seem very difficult to find an agent who is interested in helping the writer develop a career.

  4. Tim Suddeth October 30, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    Why are you using the term mid-list author negatively? There are many of us, at least me, who is/are dreaming to get there. We no-listers with dreams. You have worked hard to get on the list. That’s a great accomplishment.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray October 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Tim, I apologize to you and anyone else who thinks I was using the term negatively. That was not my intention at all. In fact, though I’m an award-winning, bestselling author in my own right, (but as a full-time agent, I am not writing books now), I would still be considered a mid-list author myself. And yes, you are right that it takes lots of work to get there. Perhaps you started reading my blog posts today, and the title of the post seemed negative. However, this is a series all starting with “Help!” and next week I’ll offer help to bestselling authors. That’s right! If you scroll down and find last week’s post, you’ll see that I addressed new authors.

      Thanks for calling your impression to my attention so that I could clarify.

  5. Tamela Hancock Murray October 30, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Further clarification — if you see my name on books that appear to be recent releases, please know they are actually repacks of stories I wrote awhile back. I am very grateful to Barbour Publishing!

  6. Tim Suddeth October 30, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    That’s okay. It takes work, guts and persistence to do what you/we do. And it’s presently cool.

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