How’s that for a click-bait title?
But in all seriousness, I terminated my publishing contract. I’m re-querying Lake Effect.
(Right off the bat, I want to say that this was all me. This has nothing to do with REUTS, or the amazing people who work there. I love REUTS. It’s my forever home.)
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. Thinking about the publishing path I want to take, about what I want my writing career to be, where I want to be five years from now. Career wise, I know I want to be continuing to work with REUTS. I love being their Publishing Director. I love being a part of the family, part of the time. I love that I could spend hours brainstorming how to make REUTS even better (even if I feel like I’m stepping on every other department’s toes). There is so much I want for REUTS. But I couldn’t continue to be that objective person who understands the business side of publishing and be an author. I couldn’t separate the two jobs, the feelings that go along with being an author and the understanding that comes with being on the other side of the publishing table.
Going to #AWP16 was the final breaking point in helping me make this, and many other, big decisions in regards to my writing career. It’s not that by publishing independently that it means I’m less serious about my craft. The writers I respect, and learned the most from, the most have published independently. But they’re also empowered. They know what they want and how to get it. They know how to negotiate and they know how to get what they deserve. I can’t do that. I don’t know how to be my own advocate.
It’s that simple.
I am no longer able, or feel comfortable, being the person who negotiations my publishing contract (among many of the other amazing things agents do for writers). I’m no longer in a position where I feel happy or comfortable in the path that I’ve chosen for myself or for my books. It breaks my heart not working with people who feel like family on my book, but I know it’s also going to be the thing that helps me work better with them.
I had no idea about the etiquette of walking away from a book deal, or even if it was the right thing to do. I mean, it’s a book deal. I have so many friends on submission, waiting and hoping for an editor to fall in love with their manuscript. I felt that millennial entitlement creeping in and I hated myself for it. How dare I think that I deserve something different than I already have? How dare I walk away from a sure thing, a good thing? After talking with an amazing agent friend, though, I knew that this was okay. That walking away from a book deal isn’t the end of the world, or your book, or even a bad decision — as long as you’re sure it’s the right decision for you.
Before I talked to REUTS, I checked my contract to see what the guidelines were for terminating my publishing contract. I remembered there was something about it when I signed, but couldn’t remember the exact terms. Finally, when I approached my publisher (who also happens to be one of my closest writing friends — see how those lines are blurred?), she was more than understanding. She understood that I couldn’t be both author and editor/Publishing Director/etc for the company and expressed how excited she was to see where Lake Effect ended up.
I’m excited too. And terrified.
But I’m armed with years of experience in publishing this time around. With the experience of self-publishing, of working on the other side of the table, of knowing how and when to query agents.
So I’m starting over. I’m back to finding Lake Effect a home and, while querying is stressful, I know that this is the best thing for me and my book.