Monday, April 8, 2013
MLIW—that means “My Life is Weird,” right?
A younger cousin posted that as his Facebook status a couple of weeks ago, and it took me a while to figure out what it meant. If I got it right, I think I could keep that as my permanent status.
Case in point. I was offered a book publishing contract, and I turned it down. Well, sort of.
Here’s how it happened. I read an essay by a writer who had recently published her first novel, after a long and frustrating journey that sounded a lot like mine. Secular publishers didn’t like her book because it was “too Christian.” Christian publishers didn’t think her work was appropriate for their readers.
I’ve had exactly the same responses to my writing, so I thought I made a brilliant move. I looked to see the name of the company that finally did publish her book, and I submitted to them.
A couple of steps (query, then full manuscript), and a few weeks later, I was being offered a contract.
Trouble was, they explained that they had several publishing “levels.” The first two are a traditional model, but in levels 3 and 4, they ask for a financial investment from the author. They had decided to offer me level 3 since this is my first book.
Now, honestly, I knew about these levels fairly early on in the submission process, but I thought I had a good shot at getting one of the first two levels (if I were offered a contract at all). Their guidelines stated that unpublished authors with endorsements from published writers usually get level 1 or 2 contracts—and I have good endorsements. Also, I don’t mind the idea of contributing a bit to the process, if this company was on the up-and-up. According to them, they publish books that other companies won’t because the book might be worthwhile, but fit a small niche market, but have to ask for an investment from the author to be able to afford to do this. That sounded reasonable to me—and hey, the “contribution” they ask for is much cheaper than self-publishing, which I’ve also considered.
The trouble was, I started to wonder about this company. The level they offered me didn’t seem to fit with their guidelines. They seemed to move too quickly. I looked at some of their books on Amazon and didn’t like the quality of the book descriptions and covers. But the clincher was, I contacted the original author who got me started on all this and asked her about them. She told me she’s not happy being published with them and frankly thought self-publishing might be better.
As you can imagine, that did it.