Excellent and detailed piece. I swore after my first cookbook that I would never do the publisher-in-control model again. These days, there’s just not much reason for it unless you need the advance money to write the book or hire someone to write it for you (as a lot of chefs do, but me and my co-author did not).
We got a good advance, too (not like your offers), but the buy back thing bit us in the ass. What was especially frustrating is that while we had to pay for our own book tour and events, all the books we had shipped for those events didn’t even count against our purchase requirements. So we were selling hundreds of books at events around the country, the costs all being out of pocket, and none of those books counted. I’ve still got a storage room full of 500 books unsold that I had to buy. I sell them on Amazon mostly as signed copies for slightly less than Amazon sells them.
I have a friend who did his first cookbook with a major publisher and despised the process so much that he self-published his second book. He doesn’t even sell it on Amazon and has made much more money than he did on his first book which had national distribution and good Amazon sales.
I’m currently working on a book and I’m not even approaching publishers. I may see if I can get the kind of deal you did with 10 Speed, but I have friends who act as small publishers now who work with distribution houses and others who have self-published successfully. I see no reason to work in the archaic model where all the money and the final control goes to the publisher.
This article is a great confirmation for my approach.