Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking charge, taking chances: publishing my first novel

Sometime in early 2011, it became clear to me that despite my agent's best efforts and despite her getting my Fae novel in the hands of the big, coveted NY publishing houses, The Between wasn't going to be published.  It wasn't because the story wasn't compelling, or the characters flat, or the writing poor.  It was simply a market decision.  I am an unknown quantity as far as the publishing houses were concerned.  They would have to be certain of selling a certain number of books in order to make their profit.  They believed the market for a Fae changeling tale was limited and thus they passed on my story.

Yes, I was disappointed.  Yes, I was frustrated.  After licking my wounds for a day, I began to think about my options. 

Option 1:  trunk the story and work on another.  Well, I was already working on other novels.  In fact I had written 2 others in the time since writing The Between.  But trunk a novel that so many people believe is ready for prime time?  That seemed wrong, somehow.

Option 2: take a leap of faith and publish it on my own.  If you'd asked me 6 months ago, I wouldn't have considered self-publishing as an alternative.  I wasn't sure that I could or wanted to handle all the details and the promotion that would need to happen going it alone.  Nor was I sure I could find an audience in the crowded epub marketplace without resorting to the kind of hard sell pitch that makes me decidedly uncomfortable.

As the year wound on, I came to the conclusion that my path would be both options.  That is, to continue to work with my agent on pitching my novels to the big publishers for a traditional type release AND release The Between on my own.  But instead of throwing the ebook against the Amazon (etc) wall to see what stuck, I decided on a larger plan, a crazy plan,  a plan that included working on a sequel to a book that didn't sell. 

How Lisa Plans World Domination
(or a self-publication release plan)

 I decided to give away The Between, hoping that readers would enjoy it and want to see more.  (I promise, The Between functions as a stand alone.  No cliff hanger endings, but there is definitely more to the story.)  I hoped that readers would be excited to continue with my characters and world and want to read further. But I didn't want to write a sequel 'on spec.' 

Well, along the way, I encountered Kickstarter and decided that this could be a model to help me fund my time to write and release the sequel I want to write for The Between.

One flaw in this plan was the fact that I am committed to working with my agent.  I didn't want to abandon that publishing path for the world of independent publishing. I believe strongly that successful authors will be those who are flexible in getting story in the hands of readers.  When I thought through my free release/kickstarter plan, I realized that I needed to let my agent know what I was considering and see how the agency stood.

Fortunately, my agent and the agency she represents are both supportive of my plan for The Between, even though my success with it would not mean any income for them.  What it could mean, however, is buzz and  a loyal readership, both of which might make me a more attractive risk to the publishing houses. 

Over the past several months, I've been working with a cover artist (Jade's work is fabulous!) and a freelance editor (squee--she complimented my grammar!) to make sure The Between is polished to a high shine.   I will be releasing the novel in various ebook formats through various outlets in the next 4-6 weeks.  The novel will be free and drm-free, released under a creative commons license.

If you are interested in receiving a notice when The Between will be ready to read, please sign up for Blue Musings, my email list.  Since I don't believe in asking someone to buy a pig in a poke, you can also read some of my short fiction to get a sense of my writing, also available to subscribers of Blue Musings.

I am so excited about getting this story in the hands of readers!  I hope you will join me on this journey.


  1. I love Jade's work! So glad you're using her for your novel.

    Sorry to hear that you couldn't interest a publisher, but glad you're getting the book out there after all.

  2. Thanks, Erin! And thank you for subscribing and for the RT. :)

  3. Lisa -

    I enjoyed your update. It's so interesting to read how writers are approaching this new publishing world. Although it takes work to "indy-publish" and get the word out, I have found it extremely rewarding and I'm sure you will too! I just connected with you on Google + too!


  4. Thanks, Jim! Circled you back on G+. I have Philly area connections too--hubby grew up there.

  5. I think that is an awesome plan and I can't wait to read your book. I hope this leads to great things for you!

  6. Thanks, Lisa! This has been a whirlwind. :)

  7. i think you're smart to avoid the amazon trap, lisa. They have a rep for sellling new copies as "used' for a buck or less, and of course those give no royalties to the writer, since used books are assumed to have been err, used...

    Self publishing is becoming the way to go, definitely, and the idea of giving away the first one is marvelous.