In Brief

I've written a series of four lesbian detective novels, unimaginatively called, "The Detective Series." They are available for your purchasing pleasure on in paperback and Kindle versions and on for Nook. In addition, I like sunsets, single malt scotch, and some other thing that starts with the letter S. This blog gets updated once a week or so and usually has something to do with my experiences as a writer.

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Entries in contracts (10)


Free at last

Hey, I didn't write a blog post last week. The reasons for that were twofold. 1) I had nothing to say. 2) I am a lazy slacker who wasn't willing to think of something to say. You're welcome!

But now, at long last, I have something to say. I finally FINALLY got something in writing from Bella Books saying that I'm released from my contract. Turns out that the key to getting a response was to threaten to get a lawyer. Worked like a charm. (Should have done that as soon as Downith suggested it.) Just for kicks, the publisher added in a line about not wanting any further communication from me. Right back at ya, babe! 

So I guess this means I actually have to do the work to self-publish my books. That means editing. Good thing I love editing! Love it! No, wait, dammit, I hate editing with every fiber of my being. And as I contemplate editing book #1, it's occurred to me that it might be even better to edit all four books and release them simultaneously so a reader can buy the whole series. Won't that be fun! No, fuck it all, it will be hellish torture. Whose bright idea was it to write a four book series anyway? Won't make that mistake again, my friends!

That's the news around these parts. Seems like most of my regulars have exciting stuff going on with their own projects. If you care to share, I'm all ears. Or eyes, I suppose would be a more accurate assessment. 



Here's how it went down on Monday, March 19. The publisher called to talk to me about "the tone" of my recent emails. (I am such a bitch, guys! I'm not at all surprised she was annoyed with me. I'm annoying!) And then she said, "If you're not happy with how things are going, we can just tear up the contract." And I said, "Let's do that." And she said, "Okay, we'll tear it up and all the rights will revert back to you." And I said, "Sounds great."

The conversation lasted about five minutes. I hung up the phone with that heady feeling you get when you've been on one path, and then you suddenly, unexpectedly, turn off that path onto another one. And the new path is exciting and beautiful, and you want to be on it, but you're still like, "What the fuck just happened? I was going that way, and this way sure is pretty, but oh shit, where's the goddamn map for this route?" 

It wasn't until a day or two later that the thought occurred to me that I should probably have something in writing that the contract is null and void. Sometimes I watch legal dramas, and they say things like, "Verbal contracts are binding," so I guess I'm out of the contract? Right? But I've talked to a couple of lawyer friends, and they all say that I should definitely get it in writing--even just an email would do the trick.

Well, I thought that perhaps Bella Books was working on that, and they'd send something to me. I know I'm not the first crazy author that they've released from a contract.

Funny story! Last April when their editorial director said they wanted my book and were offering me a contract, I said something like, "Well, what if things don't go well, blah blah blah?" And she said, "Sometimes that happens. We had this woman who wouldn't agree to the edits that we wanted, so we ended up releasing her from the contract, and I think she was going to self-publish her book. But you, you don't sound crazy, so I don't anticipate that happening here." Ha! HA HA HA!


But when over a week had passed, and I hadn't gotten anything, I sent a (nice this time! promise!) email saying, "Hey, I don't know how all this works, but it seems like I should have something in writing that the contract is null and void." I also asked them to take down their pre-release listings of my book since I don't think I can list it if they already have it listed (although I'm seriously considering changing the title, so maybe I can?).

Another week has past since that email, so I sent another today. Sigh. I guess I need to be an asshole about this, maybe? I really don't want to hire a lawyer for various reasons, although the top two are 1) laziness and 2) lack of money.

[insert pithy, possibly amusing conclusion here]


A week later

And I feel really good about what has happened. I feel like self-publishing is the right place for me because I AM A CONTROLLING BITCH. For serious, kiddos. Losing control of (hear the echo effect with me)...





...was really driving me insane. Things were starting to happen. They were creating blurbs and descriptions, things I was able to offer my opinion on but no more. And it was totally their right to do so. Don't get me wrong. I signed up for it right on that dotted line, and I thought it was going to be okay. When it was an abstract/distant concept, I told myself, "Yes, they do this all the time, so they know just how to do it." But when they did it, all I could feel was that they were fucking around with





So what can I say? Not only am I a controlling bitch, I also don't like to share my toys. 

It's clear what I am gaining by separating from my publisher: control. And that means just about everything to me. And what am I giving up? The biggest thing (maybe even the only thing) I am giving up is the cache of being able to say to people, "I have a book under contract with a publisher." And I would be lying out of my ass if I told you that I have not enjoyed myself every single time I've gotten to say that.

The other thing that I might be giving up is money. I'm really not sure if that's true or not. My advance was microscopic. My royalty rate, while standard, was nevertheless tiny. I would have to sell 5-10 times the volume of books with the publisher in order to make the same money I could as a self-publisher.

Obviously, it's a risk going it alone. Maybe I would have sold 10, 15, even 20 times the volume with my publisher than I'll be able to sell without them. I'll never know for sure. But I've got Ms. Marshmallow as my mentor, and I think I'll be okay. No, I know I'll be okay, because I was never in this for the money.


Breaking news: I no longer have a book under contract

Hey, guess what! There was another snag with my dealings with Bella Books. The publisher called to talk to me about it, and after a short conversation, we decided that the best thing to do was to rip up my contract and go our separate ways. 

I'm really okay with this. I've written about my concerns about my cover here recently, and there are some other things--things that I haven't written about--that have occurred that have made me question if this was the path I wanted to take with my work. I have no doubt that the people at Bella Books feel the same way. You know, questioning our business relationship. Because I am not easy. I'm a bitch. There! I said it! I'm a bitch! Don't work with me!

(No, really, save yourselves and stay far away from any sort of employer/employee relationship with me. Not joking.)

I feel really overwhelmed at the moment, but I also feel pretty damn good. I'm going to put out the book that I want the way that I want it to come out. I am so excited about this next step.



Saturday's mail contained the advance stipulated in my book deal. That's right. Straight up cash, homey. Oh all right, fine, it's a check. Whatever. Why are you so difficult? ANYWAY. The advance came. Now, it's nothing to get excited about. Believe me you. But I guess it means that the deal is still on. I have to admit that after a month and a half of radio silence from the publisher, doubt began settling in. I found myself talking about my book deal like I was a teenage valley girl. You know, every statement about the deal sounded like a question. I have a book under contract? My book is going to be published? I signed with a publisher?

But now all that has changed? Full steam ahead?

Some habits die hard.

Honestly, I thought this part would be different, and I realize I'm an idiot for thinking that, but I did. I thought that the indeterminate waiting and lack of communication was exclusively the realm of getting the book deal. Once the deal was inked, I believed everything was going to change. I was no longer standing outside the door of the club, hoping to get in. At last, I was in, and the service would surely be excellent.

HA HA HA. Good one, me!

The stipulation about the advance in my contract says, "Publisher agrees to pay Author an advance against royalties...within 30 days of receipt of completed manuscript." I'd begun to wonder what that clause actually meant. I mean, what is "completed"? At first I had assumed that was the manuscript I sent in by September 1 (the manuscript delivery date), but as October 1 came and went, I began to think that "completed" meant "ready to publish," which meant after all the editing was done and the book was set for the press.

And who knows, maybe that is what it means. Maybe, unbeknownst to me, they did assign an editor to my book, let's say a week ago. "Here's another one for you, Susan." I'm pretty sure her name is Susan. She gets the print out, maybe with a little sigh. Susan loves her job, of course, but sometimes dealing with authors is a big pain in the butt. No, most of the time dealing with authors is a big pain in the butt. Susan turns the cover page over. Her red pen is un-capped and poised over the words. But then...

She turns the first page. Then another. And another. She forgets about the red pen entirely. She is subsumed with the story. The red pen actually dries out as she reads and reads and reads. She can't stop! At the end, exhausted, drained, but completely satisfied, she looks up. An entire night has passed while she was reading. It's morning and in walks her boss. Susan stands up shakily--from her lack of sleep or the excitement about the story? It matters not! She looks her boss straight in the eye and exclaims, "It's perfect! No changes!"

"Are you sure?" her boss asks incredulously. "This has never happened before!"

"I'm 100% sure," Susan says, still trembling. "Get this to the presses right away! We must not keep it from the world any longer than necessary!"

"Okay, okay," her boss says. "I'll do that right after I send Sonje Jones the check for her advance."

Susan cries out, "Hurry, woman! Hurry!" and then slumps onto her desk and falls asleep immediately, still clutching the perfect manuscript before her.

It could have happened that way, right?