When the Publisher says “No.”

A week ago, I recieved the sort of news that every author dreads to hear. After finishing off the third book in my Deadworld series, I eagerly awaited information on continuing my series and getting a new contract. They wanted to see the first month of numbers for book two before making any kind of decision, and after seeing those, they decided, “No.” They declined to pick up the option for a fourth book in the series. I had turned in a synopsis for another possible story as well, but they declined on that as well and stated they were not interested in publishing anything more under my J.N. Duncan psuedonym. Craptastic news indeed! The third book, The Lingering Dead will publish in April as planned, but Kensington will not be publishing a fourth book in the series. Needless to say, this news was depressing.

Did I yell and scream at my email, demanding justice? Well, no. It was more of a, “Well, shit. This sucks.” And it truly does suck. It’s not a feeling I’d wish upon any writer. As one might expect, all of those negative thoughts tumble through your head, from “What do I do now?” to “This means my writing must be shit.” The first is a legit question, the second, just isn’t true. Publishers don’t buy up material they don’t like. My editor loved the story and loved working with me, but publishing is a business, and for them, the market being such that it is, they felt with the given sales numbers, it did not make financial sense to move forward. It’s harsh and I wish I could say that it was unfair, but it’s not. Publishers couldn’t exist if they didn’t make enough money to put out their books. They play the odds, hoping to find stories readers will buy, and in the end, if the readers don’t buy enough of them, they can’t do it. Pure and simple. So, after a couple of days of moping, the question truly does become, “What do I do now?”

The answer is straight forward and probably obvious. You get back to writing. Oddly, being told “no” put me in a rather frantic state of, “I must write something new and get it out now!” Regardless of my publisher’s desire to end our current relationship, as a debut author, getting that first book (or three in this case), is a huge step. It got my foot in the door and gave me a chance to achieve my dream. Being told “no” did not close that door. My foot is still stuck in there, and I can’t afford to get all ranty and morbid and pull it out. I have books out there. I have people who have read my stories and liked them. Even though my audience was not big enough to suit the publisher, it’s still my audience and I still have the opportunity to capitalize on that opportunity and continue to make it grow. The only way to do this is to continue writing.

Is my series dead in the water? No, though I am now out the benefits of an editor, copy editor, art, and marketing department to make things happen with it beyond book three. I can seek out other publishers, perhaps an epress who might decide it worth picking up a book with an already built-in audience. I can pursue self-publication, though this is more difficult unless I wish to do everything on my own, since professional editing and proofing and art services are not cheap, and I don’t have the money currently to spend on such services. So, what am I going to do? Right now, I will, sometime in the near future, package up a proposal and some pages for book four and see if I can find some interest. If all else fails I will write book four and publish it on my own. This is just the way the cards have fallen, and like many authors in the same position, I must do the best with what I’ve been dealt.

I will keep writing. I am currently working on a proposal for a new series, one I’ve had in the wings for some time now, that I’d hoped to do once Deadworld was done. It’s merely a change in the time table, and the fact that I don’t currently have a publisher interested. I do however, have a very supportive agent (yet another reason to have one), who will take my ideas and thoughts and words and help me to shape them into something that will hopefully be marketable and attract the interest of another publisher. I’m excited for this new series (have been for quite a while actually) and believe it could find an audience. It will be another supernatural crime fiction series, albeit with a very different feelt. It’s set in a future NYC, flooded by global warming, and run by a nefarious corporation bent on doing something quite evil to us poor humans, but who must deal with Mer detective and a forensic pathologist equally bent on figuring out what is going on and stopping them, while trying to come to terms with the conflict and emotional turmoil stirred up between them. It’s going to be a fun ride in a really cool setting, which I hope will find a home and readers will be able to enjoy sometime down the road here.

So, to all you writers out there who have suffered a similar fate, you cannot afford to despair. You must continue to pursue the dream and keep writing. You owe it to yourself and to those out there who have enjoyed your stories. They want to read more, and I know you want to write them. So, do it! Happy reading/writing everyone!

12 responses to “When the Publisher says “No.”

  1. Good on you for looking at the blow like a professional and persevering! I love to read about writers like you. I’m a bit the same – the numbers didn’t crunch for a the big corporation, but they’re working out okay for Kitty-on-her-own. Take the lemons and make lemonade and pie. :)

  2. Wow – having a sequel rejected could happen to me. My first book, ‘Mousenet,’ is out but the publisher won’t commit to the sequel that I’ve submitted (in some ways, in my humble opinion, better than the first book) until they see how ‘Mousenet’ does in its first few months. The fact that sequels may be picked up by other publishers is cheering–and there’s always self-publishing as an option, but not one I’m enthusiastic about.

  3. Fabulous to read that despite this you can begin afresh and move forward with your writing. I would probably have crawled under a rock for a month before returning to the keyboard, and even then… I doubt I’d do so with such positivity. Good for you. It is perhaps why you have a publisher (and will no doubt find another for the fourth book) while I cower in fear of even trying to get one. Shah .X

    • Shah, the thing with publishing, and a simple, yet important fact is, the answer will always be no unless you try. Even if think the answer will be no, and yes, the odds are not in our favor, the chances of yes are absolutely zero without trying. So, write, keep writing, get better, write some more, and take the risk.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your “no.” That must be heartbreaking, but at the same time, I’m so impressed that you are keeping your chin up about the future. I figure life is a journey, but sometimes things like this make it difficult to see the overall picture of what will make us satisfied when it’s all said and done. Still, I have to believe that challenges like this (and the ways we choose to meet them) are what ultimately make our journey memorable! Keep on writing, never give up, and stay true to yourself! Best of luck to you.

  5. Kudos to sharing your story. Not sure if you realize it, but you’re an inspiration to many of us writers out there. And we’ll follow your series (and you) wherever you go. :)

    • Aww, thanks Berinn. Your words are much appreciated. I do hope the series will see it’s conclusion some day, but for now, I’m burying my nose in Mer, magic, romance, and mayhem. Hopefully with good results :)

  6. Diana Rowland published two books with Random House. Since they didn’t want anymore in the Kara Gillian series, her agent sold the rest of the series – plus a new series – to Penguin. Carolyn Crane had two books in a trilogy with Random House. They didn’t want the third, but Samhain recently published it.

    So it is possible to finish the series with another publisher without self-publishing. Good luck :-)

  7. That truly does suck. I’m sorry! But so great to see you moving on without getting bitter. I’ll be pulling for you and looking forward to the new book(s). All sound awesome!

    Aimee

  8. Great job! That’s a terrifying story, wow, in the sense of “Oh man, that could totally happen to me and waaaah.” But your story of soldiering on is inspiring. Keep on truckin!

  9. Sorry to hear that, Jim! But keep your chin up, and most importantly keep on writing…Best of luck to you