I came back from my New Year's writing retreat to the next phase of the traditional publishing adventure: negotiating the contract.
There's a complicated scale for royalties for hardcover and paperback and ebooks, depending on how many you sell (higher royalty the more you sell) but it isn't great under any circumstances. Publishers only really make money with volume sales. They sell the books to bookstores at a 40% or greater discount off the list price and incur all costs of insurance and shipping and buying the books back if they don't sell. A book like mine, by an unknown, unproven author, is a big gamble and they're only willing to invest so much. Maybe it will take off, maybe it will flop. Of course, they want it to be a big seller and so do I, but that depends on so many of the stars aligning just right, so many unpredictable factors.
In the short run, I could probably make as much money by self-publishing as I will initially get from the publisher so it's a gamble for me too. My hope, and theirs, is that their possibilities for exposing it to a wider public in ways that self-publishing can't do will garner us more readers.
At the end of the week's conversations with my agent, I told her I wanted to pursue this with the publisher for the experience of it. To have a traditional publisher and go through all the steps and see what happens. To be honest, this is already farther than I ever thought I'd get. So it's thrilling no matter what!