Monday, January 21, 2013

Rejecting a Publishing Offer - Am I Crazy?

It's been a crazy week. I had a super-high (a publisher accepted my Vampire novel!) and crashing low (the publisher isn't very good) and made some headway on my long-term writing goal. So let me explain what happened.

I wrote my romance novel The Vampire's Daughter about 5 years ago (the summer between finishing my Bacherlor's degree and starting my Master's program). I then queried it like crazy, sending it to dozens of places. Now, querying takes a long time. Long story short, after I moved to FL 3 years later I was still sending queries and getting rejections. One rejection I got was even after I moved to China! But it wasn't all bad. I was getting great requests based off my query. Even Kensington requested it at one point and kept it for about 6 months before I finally got a rejection. What I learned was that I had a great query, but something was lacking in the book. I put it on the shelf for about a year while I had a bout of depression and pretty much didn't write anything. I finally dragged it back out after talking to my amazingly wonderful friend Jennifer. Jennifer was an editor for our university poetry magazine back in the day and she offered to read my novel and give me feedback. That was almost a year ago. But not only did she beta-read it and give me feedback, she did a line by line (and word by word) edit that I didn't expect. Over the next 10 months I did rewrites based on her suggestions and I think we came out with a really great book.

By November I had a lot of plans in place to help me to take the plunge and focus on my writing more. But I was working full-time at a job I hated. It was taking way too much of my time and making everyone miserable. I wanted to requery the book, but I simply didn't have the time to canvas as much as I should have. A friend of mine had been published with Rainstorm Press. I looked them over and had a good feeling about them. I knew they were a newer publisher, but I figured that would work in my favor. I queried them and only 2 or 3 other places. With in 2 weeks, Rainstorm asked for the full manuscript. That was pretty exciting.

By this time my company and I decided that we would part ways. I also had a vacation to Thailand coming up, but still had to work full-time until the end of December. I didn't push the book any more and figured I would wait to see what happened when I got back from holiday. In the meantime I started hanging out at AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler where I made a lot of connections, got great feedback, and started learning more about the publishing industry.

Last week was my first full week back home and my first week as a full-time writer, so when I got the offer for publication on Tuesday, I was totally stoked! I thought maybe it was a sign that being a writer was my calling; this is what I was supposed to be doing. I kept my cool though and didn't accept the offer right away. I went to AbsoluteWrite and asked them what they thought of my offer. They were definitely less than encouraging, but I think for the right reasons. They were able to point out red flags and outright falsehoods in the email that were warnings against this publisher.

Now, that should have been the sign to walk away, but at the same time I had been trying to get the book published for 5 years. What if I never found another publisher? After lots of soul-searching and talking with Jennifer and my husband, I decided to reject the offer. The main reason is because I feel that I was selling my book short. I think my book is great and I think the work Jennifer and I did on it together means the book needs a real second chance.

Today I entered The Vampire's Daughter in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. I'll find out on the Feb 14th if it is going on to the next round. That really isn't very long to wait. If it goes on to the next round, that's awesome! But if it doesn't, that gives me a little over 3 weeks to collect a new list of publishers and get a new query letter ready.

I think it will win though :)

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