Friday, September 07, 2007

Patience, grasshopper...

Way back in 2003, I officially finished my first novel, New Frontier. I was 21, eager to publish, and a sophomore in college when I finished it. Naturally, I thought it was a brilliant novel, and everybody else would love it, too. (I have no idea if everybody does love it. It's not exactly a best seller). But I read enough romance novels to know that it did not fit the needs of places like Harlequin--and I was scared. I read it and edited it and read it and edited, and by the end of 2003, I felt I was ready to submit.

A friend of mine sent me links to various epublishers, and I began to sniff around. Ellora's Cave was the obvious choice, but they rejected me--there wasn't enough sex! I was shocked by this rejection--though now knowing what I know about EC, I am not so much shocked. But nobody has ever told me I didn't have enough sex in my stories, you know? Well, with EC out, I needed to find a new publisher. But I wanted to be careful about this.

I began looking at Liquid Silver Books around the beginning of 2004. I thoroughly read their guidelines. I registered at their forum. I did google searches on their authors. I checked the website every single week. What was I looking for? Did they update weekly? Were their covers decent? Did they have a variety of authors? Were the books decent? Was the editing decent? I was a new author, with a new book, but I wasn't going to get locked into a bad publisher or contract. I checked places like Absolute Write, Writer's Beware, Preditors and Editors, and various blogs. I looked for any mention of Liquid Silver Books---positive or negative, and I took note.

Finally, in Nov 2004, I felt confident in submitting to them. I was eager and excited. And I was in Italy in January 2005 when I received the offer of a contract from the editor, Raven.

What was the point of this very long story? Well, I'm glad you asked.

I knew that epublishing was (and is) an infant industry. I knew I had to be smart about this. Even though I was so eager to get published, I took my time. There are so many epublishers right now, with more popping up every month. Some people have what it takes to run a successful epublishing company. Some people don't. Some outfits don't have any editorial standards. They just don't--some editing makes me literally embarrassed for the author, for the publisher, and for myself as a reader. Epublishing gets a bad rap because some of the books look awful. Some publishers are fly-by-night operations. Some publishers are just out to scam you--and the scamming publishers will look more appealing than the others because they are trying to take your money. And they are trying to take advantage of you. Some are not malicious at all, but they will still hurt you in the long run.

Be patient with your books if you're new to epublishing. Take the time to do this right. There is nothing like that first sale. There is nothing like signing that first contract. It's a rush, and it's wonderful, and it's validating. Don't just be so eager to get published that you'll go with any ol' publisher. Find a place that's well established, that has books you like to read, that has authors you respect. Find publishers with a reputation for quality. Find publishers who will be there tomorrow. Read contracts before you submit--most publishers have sample contracts available.

I've never had a publisher fold, and I've never signed a contract I've regretted. But I've never submitted to a publisher I haven't thoroughly researched, either.


Jennifer McKenzie said...

I've been so blessed with information when I've submitted.
Only once did I step out on a ledge. That was with The Wild Rose Press. I have been EXTREMELY lucky there.

veinglory said...

This is where confess that I submitted to my first two epresses almost at random--certainly without a lot of research, and just got very, very lucky. No one is more righteous than a repentant sinner!

Bethanne said...

That was a wonderfully written commentary. Really, it's encouraging and helpful. I'm glad I stopped by.

Jennifer, I've been eying up WRP. They look like a very stable publishing house and I like their books. ;)

Pepper Espinoza said...

Jennifer, I've been hearing more and more about Wild Rose Press. Glad that's working out for you.

Emily, honestly, I don't expect most people to be as...what's the word? Anal? Crazy? Patient? as me, but I really think a lot of pain could be avoided if they were like, half as crazy as me, lol.

Thanks Morgan. I'm glad you stopped by, too!

Dayna_Hart said...

GREAT advice.
And just asking authors AT a certain house isn't enough. Ask authors who USED TO BE there. Ask authors who are not there "why not?".

I did a LOT of research before subbing Go Between...and felt a little anal, as well as a little...well, arrogant, I guess. Only one house would do, once I'd finished looking around and asking questions. But when I got the contract at that One, nothing beat that rush. :)