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.