Friday, September 4, 2009

Dropped by Covenant, and then some other stuff happened...

It's been a weird, weird day. Last month I broke one of the cardinal rules of publishing. I blogged about my difficulty working with my publisher. I knew I was risking my contract with them, and I was fed up enough not to mind. Now, this isn't something anyone should ever do without thinking about it seriously. No business wants to work with someone who tells the public stories about not having a good professional relationship. I kept my blogpost specific, talking about one particular problem I had with them, and did not name names. And I will not ever be naming names on this blog. If any Covenant authors or prospective Covenant authors ever want advice, I can be a little more specific in a private email, but even there, I'm not going to badmouth. Covenant has a good working relationship with many major LDS authors. They are able to make it work, I wasn't.

Going public with your frustrations will also leave a black mark on your record. Other publishers will consider it unprofessional. So when I heard from Covenant that they'd dropped me, I was more concerned about that than the book I had under contract with them. However, it was worth it to me to get out from under their contract. They, and nearly all LDS houses, reserve a right of first refusal on everything you write, so it's a rather all encompassing agreement. I was also concerned about a few other technical issues I won't go into here. I emailed several resources, an LDS listserv and a couple of authors who had offered advice before. And I emailed Orson Scott Card, because he and I know each other and he's both a writer and LDS. Scott's very generous, so I figured I'd ask for his advice, making it clear that I understood if he didn't have time to read my email, let alone respond.

Several authors emailed me back with useful advice and commisseration. A couple shared their negative Covenant stories with me. And I started looking into other publishing houses, like Deseret Book and Valor Press. I spent the afternoon putting together submissions to both and contemplating the long process of subbing to the rest of the LDS market. Despite it being small, there are a lot of little houses that publish in it.

Scott Card was nice enough to reply in the evening. He gave me some advice and asked what the book was about. I answered with some rambling self-deprication. I don't look down on the LDS market, but I do recognize that it is small and that the fiction I write for it doesn't appeal to everyone. For example, I wouldn't expect my chick lit to be read by, say, Orson Scott Card. Well, it turns out he had a reason to be asking about my book. His company, Hatrack River, is back in business, and he was kind enough to invite me to submit to them.

So, I began the day with one door closing and ended it with several more opening. All in all, it's a win. But no, if you're wondering, my knowing Scott does not increase my odds of selling to him. He's nice, but he's also a businessman, and publishing books is a business. He does know about my bad blogging behavoir. There are no secrets out here in cyberspace.

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