Author FAQ: On publishing (and my publisher)

So far, we’ve tackled frequently asked questions about writing and getting an agent. Today, I’m going to talk about publishing.

Now, granted, my experience with the publishing world has been both limited in scope and complex in nature. I’ve had two contracts total in my fiction career, so it’s a limited sample. And as I’ve said before, your experience likely will differ. In fact, I hope it goes a bit smoother. But that said, I can’t complain. My books are on shelves, and that’s an awesome feeling.

Again, as a reminder, other authors may have different opinions, which is great. Don’t just rely on me to inform your authorial and/or publishing escapades. Do your homework!

With that said, on to the next: 

How did you end up with Night Shade Books? How did that work out for you? 

I’m happy to say that it’s worked out quite well, thanks for asking. Implicit in that question, among knowledgeable fans and/or colleagues, is the very real concern that it hasn’t been going well. The troubles with NSB have been well detailed, and they came to a head just months before The Daedalus Incident was due to hit shelves. You can find out more about that experience here, here and here.

Since then, I’ve found the new Night Shade, now an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, to be pretty darn good. I have a great editor in Cory Allyn and a great publicist in Lauren Burnstein. (Special mention to Ardi Alspach for handling publicity when the first book came out; she’s now gone on to Tor, which is a sweet move on her part.) There have been a few minor hiccups here and there, to be expected when you’re relaunching a brand/imprint like they have, but overall, I’m pretty satisfied.

How did I end up with NSB in the first place? When Sara and I finally deemed The Daedalus Incident ready for prime-time, she submitted it all over the darn place. And it was rejected all over the darn place. That didn’t surprise me, as there’s not really a built-in market for Napoleonic Era space opera crossed with hard SF. We knew we’d need a publisher willing to take a chance on a debut author and a book that couldn’t easily be shelved in one particular subgenre.

And no, there were no particular threads within those rejections that told us we had more work to do. Literally, some rejections were polar opposites. One editor would like the characters and hate the plot, others would love the plot but felt the characters were wooden. Some thought the 18th century voice was too much, others said it was spot-on and wanted more of it. Total mixed bag.

(One funny note on this process: I had some interest from an editor at one here-to-be-unnamed publisher; he rejected it, but said it might work with a substantial revision. So I did the revision he had in mind, and then…it was rejected again. OK, fine. We submitted to another publishing house later on, only to find that this particular editor had moved jobs to this second publisher…and rejected the book a third time. Three rejections, two publishers, one editor. I can laugh about this now.)

Ultimately, the book got two offers. I chose NSB because of their editorial track record and their distribution. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped, in that there was a huge brouhaha and hullaballoo right as I was supposed to launch. But ultimately, it worked out better. I went from being just another debut at a struggling publisher to being the lead title at a new imprint at a successful publisher, and I got a new two-book deal out of it to boot.

I know other authors have had their frustrations with both old and new NSB, and their issues are very valid. My experience has been different and pretty darn positive.

Next: My take on self-publishing.


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