I have a label. Well, I have a lot of labels.
Daughter, sister, mother, wife, aunt, cousin, best friend, co-worker, bitch. Okay, just kidding about that last one. (I hope.)
In the publishing world, my label is “hybrid author.” Basically, it means I don’t keep all my eggs nestled in a single pretty wicker basket with a blue gingham ribbon. Actually, until Monday, those eggs were spread out amongst, um, let me see, one, two, three…six different baskets. Red, pink, purple, blue, green, and silver ribbons.
Damn, I take that hybrid label seriously, don’t I?
Actually, I don’t. I mean, I do, of course, but that wide variety just sort of happened. When I decided I wanted to dip my purple-painted big toe into the vast, murky publishing pool, I had not a clue what I was doing.
Let me reiterate: Not. A. Clue.
I’ve had a passion for writing pretty much since I learned cursive handwriting in third grade. (Yep, I’m that old – we had to learn cursive.) But beginning in college, writing took a backseat to life: partying and studying and changing my major half a dozen times, then working in the real world, then falling in love, then having babies, then figuring out that whole parenting thing.
Until I was laid off from an all-consuming sales job in 2010. All of a sudden, I had a lot of time on my hands. Cue the muses kicking in. All the muses. Criminy, there were so many voices in my head, I probably wrote ten full-length novels over the course of three months. They were all shit and I can’t even look at them without cringing now, but it was great practice.
(PS – don’t tell my husband about this; he thought I was job searching all that time I spent hunkered down in front of the computer.)
When the muses finally gave me a little breathing space, I started researching. Marketing. Social Media. Publishers. Agents.
Joined Twitter. Created a Facebook page. Took RWA online classes. Started submitting to various publishing houses.
Got a lot of rejection letters, some even encouraging.
In 2014, I participated in #pitmad. Got a like. Then another. And another. By the end of the day, I had a list of publishers to cull through, figure out who was “worthy” of my books. (Read: who offered the best royalty rate and sold decent numbers of books in the same genres I wrote.)
Ultimately, I sent my manuscripts to two different houses, plus at the same time continued to submit directly to other publishers, as I saw calls that interested me or read books I enjoyed and noted who published them (yes, I’m *that* reader who actually reads the front and back matter of a book).
Both of those #pitmad publishers accepted the manuscripts I sent, and ultimately I ended up publishing a series of three books with one and a series of five books with the other. And one of the houses I “cold-called” (as my former sales person self thought of it) was Soul Mates, and they offered me a contract too.
In the meantime, I started making friends in the indie community, started spending more time on that whole marketing aspect; managed to get a handful of reviews and win a few awards…Sold a couple books.
And started self-publishing.
Since then, I joined a boxed set that is published by one of the authors in the set, and was invited to participate in an anthology published by a smaller up-and-coming publishing house with quite the nice royalty share.
Hence the six.
Good thing I’m accidentally as hybrid as I am, because this industry takes the process of change seriously; like, it’s always doing it. A couple years ago, one of my publishers decided to shift their focus to sweet, inspirational romance (aka closed door sex, which is not at all what I write), and pretty much ignored the rest of us while hiking our book prices into the stratosphere. And while it’s flattering to think someone would pay the same amount for one of my books as they would for Nora Roberts, I’m not that niave. And I wanted people to actually read those books, so as soon as my contracts were up, I asked for my rights back.
And on Monday, another one of my publishers closed their doors, so abruptly the editors had a whole twenty minutes notice before the authors and subsequently the general public (those on Twitter, at any rate) found out.
That one was hard, because, like the atmosphere here at Soul Mates, that one was a family. And it felt like the family was getting split up, separated and being adopted out to strangers, and we might never see each other again. (Okay, it’s not quite that bad, courtesy of the handy-dandy internet, but still…)
Although, while closings are sad or sometimes make authors angry and definitely tend to send the publishing world into temporary upheaval, the hybrid author is generally able to take it in stride. I doubt acquiring my rights back for those books owned by that publisher will be difficult, but even if it is, it only affects 3 of the 22 books I currently have published. Wait – 23. Forgot about the freebie that’s only available on my website.
Holy crap, I have a lot of books out there for you to read. And more on the way.
I do still have four other baskets, after all.