A Publishing Update


A lot has been happening over the past couple of weeks. It started when I got an offer from RainTown, a local small press. I’d already settled on my route to publication, and had sent RainTown an email a few weeks before, telling them to withdraw my manuscript from consideration, so I was all set to politely decline. But my Puddletown partners, Renee and Susan, told me I should meet with RainTown, that I’d worked too long and too hard on the traditional publishing route to throw it away without consideration.

I went to the meeting not expecting RainTown to have anything more to offer than Puddletown, but I was pleasantly surprised. The four people I met with immediately made me feel at home. They were funny, intelligent, and totally in love with my book. They particularly liked the voice, the complex characterization, and the details about the Eugene setting and the racing community that gave the book its flavor. They said the book was so good already that they only wanted to do some minor polishing, to shift some scenes around to improve the tension. The acquisitions editor paid me an unexpected compliment when she said my teen boy voice was so convincing she’d thought I was a man. As an emerging press, they have to be very careful about what they publish, and my book had made the cut over the multiple submissions they’d received. They were willing to stake their business on the potential for In the Blood to sell. Right there I gained the validation I’ve been searching for over the past five years.

But this left me with a dilemma. I’d already rejected the traditional route. I’d said in my Dark Side post that if I’d known all my life that indie publishing was a viable option, I would have chosen it from the start. Many indie authors say they’d reject a traditional offer if they got one, but few ever get the opportunity to prove it. Now I was in exactly that position.

I thought long and hard about my choices. This was what I’d been wanting, not just for the past five years, but since I was in the third grade. For a while I tried on the possibility. I envisioned myself working with the RainTown team. I could see myself having fun with those people, strategizing about marketing, planning author events. But ultimately I came to the realization that I really do want to go the indie route, that creative control is of utmost importance to me, and that I want to be in charge of my release schedule. I felt completely confident that RainTown loved In the Blood and would handle it with the utmost respect, but I didn’t want to take the risk that they’d love the other four books just as much. I didn’t want to wait five years to see all those books get published. Most importantly of all, I want to make a living as a writer, and unless you’re very lucky, that’s just not possible in traditional publishing.

Ultimately, I turned down RainTown’s offer. However, I want to say that for anyone who is comfortable with traditional publishing, they’d be a great company to work with. They’re committed to YA and MG books, and they’re wonderful people who respect authors and want to help them become the best they can be. Additionally, they’re more generous with their ebook royalties than anyone in New York. If you want to work with a small, dedicated team who will put your book first, they’re exactly who you want. It was very difficult for me to pass up their offer.

While all this was going on, I was still diligently working for Puddletown, but with each day, I was getting further behind on my personal business. I didn’t have time to write. I was neglecting my social networking. My truck sat in the driveway for three weeks with a load of branches in the back because I couldn’t find time to take it to the dump. I couldn’t see how I’d ever be able do any writing, let alone promote my own books, if I continued in the publisher role. It’s never been my desire to be a professional editor, the opportunity had simply fallen into my lap, and it was fun. But, I didn’t want to sacrifice my writing career for it.

I talked things over with Susan and Renee, and we determined that Puddletown had enough of a foundation that I could leave the company without detrimental effects. Again, this was a hard decision, but I felt it was in my best interest as a writer. I also didn’t think it would be fair to Puddletown’s other authors if I was constantly juggling my writer and publisher roles.

Leaving Puddletown freed me to publish my books independently, so that’s what I’ll be doing. I’m currently putting together a plan, and I’ll make an announcement once I work out the details. The nice thing about this arrangement is that it gives me more time. With all I was doing, the March 20th publication date felt a little too stressful.

Traditional publishing was always my dream. It’s a little unsettling when you realize that your dream, like your favorite pair of jeans, doesn’t fit anymore, but when I listen to my gut I realize that where I’d once envied authors who’d just sold their first book, I now find myself admiring people like Zoe Winters, Kait Nolan, and Amy Rose Davis, who are either making decent money as indie authors or well on their way to doing so. I’m excited about fully embracing indie authorship and being 100% in control of my intellectual property, marketing plan, and publishing schedule. As a small business owner, this state of independence has always been where I felt the most comfortable.  Stay tuned for upcoming announcements.

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32 Responses to A Publishing Update

  1. Katy Skinner says:

    Thanks for the updates, Lisa! Very interesting. ~~Katy

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  2. Karen C says:

    Thanks for the updates, Lisa. Good luck as you continue to figure out what is going to work for you! Sounds like you’ve been really busy the past couple of weeks with big, life-changing decisions. Make sure you get lots of rest and do something pampering for yourself. 🙂 Hugs!

    Like

    • terripatrick says:

      Interesting chain of events. But you have made the decision that feels right for you with a lot of other options to consider. Good. I applaud your decision not to wait five years before all your books will be in print. For your target audience five years is a really long time. 🙂

      My greatest concern with the traditional publishing route is what has been showing up in contracts regarding electronic and derivative rights. If nothing else, with the way publishing and marketing is morphing, the author should hold on to those rights most of all.

      Let me know if you want to chat about setting up your online persona, or test out your sites prior to going live.

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      • Lisa Nowak says:

        I appreciate the support, Terri. 🙂 This seems like the best business decision. The tough part was getting past all the emotion tied up with the traditional publishing dream. I’m already working on the online persona thing, but it would be fun to chat with you about it.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Thanks for the good wishes, Karen. I’m still trying to catch up on things I neglected while working for Puddletown, but I’m almost done. 🙂 Now I just need to take care of the bookkeeping for my landscaping business so I can do my taxes.

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  3. Elisabeth Miles says:

    Wow. What a lot of soul searching decisions to make. I think you made the right ones, especially given the way the markets are going. Too bad you had to leave Puddletown, but you are such a good writer you need to be writing. (How cool the validation from the traditional publishers came at a time in which you had several viable choices.)

    Is P-town still going to be publishing your book, or are you going to do the whole thing yourself? Whatever, I wish you the best. Beth

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Beth, I’m going to publish them myself. I’m working on a plan, and my hope is to have In the Blood out in late July (coinciding with the Brickyard 400) and Getting Sideways out in late November (coinciding with the last race of the season).

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  4. Lisa, I really appreciate what a thoughtful and cautious process you went through making this choice. You didn’t dive headlong into anything without really considering all of your options. Of course, I think you made the right choice, but what an amazing buffet of options! 🙂

    And I love that you are going to schedule your releases to coincide with racing season. That’s great that you have an automatic built-in schedule you can work with! 🙂

    Look forward to going along this path with you!

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Amy, I have you to thank for prompting me to look at this from a business perspective. The risks of the indie route are different than those of traditional publishing, and they might be a little higher, but the payoff is so much greater that I think it’s worth it, especially considering how quickly the publishing world is changing. Now I just have to decide on how soon to make my books available. Konrath, Nolan, and Winters would say get them up as fast as possible. I’m not sure that’s the best way. Maybe with a series a book needs time to develop a following before the next one comes out. There’s something to be said for the anticipation factor. Beyond that, I need time to get them ready. At this point I’m looking at publishing two a year, but I might accelerate that schedule after doing more research.

      I think I’m in a more favorable position than many indie authors in that I’ve got four books written, a fifth half-finished, and a sixth outlined. It seems that most indies are bemoaning how long it’s taking them to get more books written and published. At least I don’t have that to worry about. 🙂

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  5. I’m envious you got a such a great compliment on your voice. That’s fantastic.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      It was a pretty incredible moment, McKenzie. 🙂 After all these years of trying to find an agent and get published, that was a nice bit of validation.

      For everyone who happens to be reading the comments, hop on over to McKenzie’s blog and check it out. http://mrhmccann.blogspot.com/ She’s a very talented 15-year-old writer who has a great blogging voice and has two publishing companies interested in her book.

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  6. Barb says:

    Knowing how much traditional publishing meant to you, I know what a difficult decision this had to be for you. It would have been easier if RainTown had been stuffy, or inflexible, but a compliment from you, means this is a fabulous group of folks.

    It’s exciting to be in the time we are right now. Technology, social connections, and a freshness blow through this era. May you have peace and success as you rind the wind.
    Hugs.B.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Well, you know, Barb, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I was pretty stressed out last week while I was wrestling with this decision, but now I feel confident and content. I’m lucky to have had it happen this way. How many authors get this sort of opportunity? I received the validation I wanted, yet I get to do things my way. What more could I ask for? I appreciate you understanding the difficulty of my decision, though. It means a lot to know my friends are that in tune with me.

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  7. katharine says:

    this is a really interesting perspective on this, one you don’t see often in the blogosphere. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Katharine, I don’t think many authors get the chance to look at things from this perspective. Sure, anyone can make the choice to go indie, and there have been some successful indies who were later approached by traditional publishing companies and had to make a similar choice, but at this point I haven’t heard of any debut authors who passed up a traditional offer. I think we’ll see more of it in the future, though.

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  8. Jen Daiker says:

    This is great. It’s great to see all types of views. I am currently struggling with what to do. If I should go with a small publishing or stick with finding an agent. Ive never been more confused!

    Like

    • Lisa Nowak says:

      That’s a hard choice, Jen. One thing I did was make a list of pluses and minuses of all my options. I also “tried on” each possibility, imagining myself doing it. That let me experience the different feelings I had about all my choices. If you truly want to go the traditional route, then I think you owe it to yourself to at least try to get an agent and land a deal with a bigger house. Maybe give yourself a year to do that, with a plan for moving forward with the smaller houses if things don’t work out. Having a solid plan always makes me feel better. Feel free to send me an email using the “contact” button in the sidebar if you need someone to bounce ideas off of.

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  9. Good luck with all your choices, Lisa. You’ve had to make tough decisions that no one wants to make. My fingers are crossed for you.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Thanks, Stina. It was a tough choice, but I don’t regret how things have turned out, and I feel very confident about my decision.

      Like

  10. Kathie says:

    Wow, Lisa, what a whirlwind you’ve been in for the last few months! You’re blazing a path for many of us to follow. Your persistence will bring your talents into wider view … Cody and Jess and the rest of the gang need to get their stories out into the word.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Thanks, Kathie. This is only the beginning for indie authors with ebooks and POD. The industry is rapidly changing, and a year or two from now I think my choice isn’t won’t be so unusual anymore. I appreciate your faith in me and my characters. 🙂

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  11. Lisa…You’ve had a crazy few months, but I know how much you’ve put into your book and I’m confident that you’re making the best decisions for yourself. I’m cheering your book on the entire way (you know how much I love it!) and I’ll be looking forward to its release! 🙂 I always think that you should go with the feelings that are in your heart, and it seems like you’re doing just that!

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      I really appreciate the support, Rachele. I’m crossing my fingers for you, too, with your latest submission. 🙂

      Like

  12. Hi Lisa,

    How liberated you must feel. I went through a similar situation and ultimately decided to go indie. I always thought that authors weren’t authors unless they took the traditional route. Bull! I know better now and am glad there is someone else out there that shares those feelings.

    I’ll be keeping up with you. All the best.

    Like

    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Sharde, thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who’s faced this decision, and for your support. It’s true, I do feel liberated. 🙂

      Like

  13. Joy says:

    Well done. Not sure I’d have the courage to pass up the opportunity and stand on my own before getting at least one novel published via the traditional route, but you obviously know the publishing world, so kudos to you. I’ll be following along.

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    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Thanks, Joy. It is a little frightening, but the weird thing is I was more scared of the idea of signing a contract and having my books tied up for life. I guess I’m too much of an individual to ever feel completely comfortable in that situation. But then I am self-employed, so it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to me. 🙂

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  14. Thank you for sharing. I love reading about other people’s experiences on writing and publishing.

    Liz

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  15. EJ Wesley says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Just wanted to pop over and say how much I appreciated your thoughtful response to my ‘Author Vs Author’ post. Reader insight is the entire reason I post those kinds of things, so it means a lot when people (like you) take the time to share. It is especially meaningful when the comments come from other authors. Hope to see you around ‘the blog’ again in the future!

    As for your publication journey, I love that you’ve evolved your expectations of how you want it to unfold. I think it’s funny how it can be a subtle shift or a major one. So long as you believe in the work and put your best foot forward, I don’t see how you’ll go wrong.

    Best of luck,

    EJ

    Like

    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Thanks, EJ. I’m a bit behind on my blog reading at the moment, but I’ll definitely be back to weigh in again. 🙂

      Like

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