In today’s guest post, author, Michelle Hauck, shares her journey in working with a small publisher. Michelle did her due diligence and looked at ALL the options available when it came to getting her novel, Kindar’s Cure, published. Her perseverance, and hard work in finding the right option for her novel, prove if you believe in your manuscript you can find an audience for your story.
I share this post as a way to illustrate that there are many options in the publishing world. As a writer, you have to do the work and discover which path is the right choice for you.
A Publishing Choice
A Guest Post by Michelle Hauck
There is always a lot of talk among writers about what sort of path to publication is the best, whether a person should go with traditional—agent/large publisher—a small press, or self-publishing. Lately, the talk has taken to denigrating the choices of others. I think all paths to publications are legitimate as long as it works for the author doing the choosing. They are the ones who have to weigh which route is best for them.
For myself, I’d always hoped to go the traditional way: get an agent and then have the agent find a publisher for my stories. It didn’t work out that way. My first two manuscripts were epic fantasy of the adult variety. Now epic fantasy is many things, but it has never been on the hot list of genres. There are only so many agents interested in adult fantasy, and I’ll bet if you polled them, the numbers seeking epic would diminish drastically.
I researched agents and sought input on my query for that second manuscript. I polished with the help of numerous critique partners who knew the rules and necessities for a great story, but none of that got Kindar’s Cure an agent. There were requests, but no offers.
Therein came the dilemma, what to do next? For people seeking the traditional route, the next move is to shelve their baby and polish up a new and finished work in progress. I did have a work in progress to polish, but I also had a belief in the value of Kindar’s Cure.
Epic fantasy is my love. It’s what I read, it’s what I wanted to write and get published. I wasn’t ready to quit on my story, no matter that the market in big publishing didn’t support me. But I wasn’t very technically savvy either to put it mildly. I didn’t know how to do all the things to make a manuscript beautiful for self-publishing. I couldn’t create cover art or do my own editing. Self-publishing seemed daunting to me, especially as I didn’t have much of a platform. I wasn’t yet on twitter, and my blog got a few page views a day, most of them probably being spammers.
Working with a small publisher would give me an editor and also time to build a platform. There’s another factor I learned that agents look favorable on authors who have publishing credits to put in their bios. It shows that the writer isn’t a flash in the pan; that a writer is going to stick around and write more stories. A small press can give that kind of credibility to a bio. And I was prepared to trade smaller portions of the final sales for having someone do the publishing and editing for me.
So I looked into small presses, using Duotrope to help create lists of legitimate places that accepted epic fantasy, and I sent off my query and sample pages again. I began to get requests, drawing more interest than I got from agents. I researched those small presses further using sites like Preditors and Editors and Writer’s Beware.
An offer came from Divertir, and I did more research by talking to their other clients. An experience friend checked the contract for me and pointed out areas I might want changed. The publisher had no problems making those changes, proving they were willing to compromise. I accepted the offer, knowing both the shortcomings and pluses of a small publisher. The marketing would be largely my own responsibility, but the tradeoff was Divertir took my needs and desires into account when a large press would not. I was able to give input on the cover art and interior art. My baby got to stay my baby, without strangers tearing it apart and putting their stamp on it.
So how does it end? I’m not exactly sure—yet. Kindar’s Cure has been published for less than a month, the ebook versions just came online this week. I’m just beginning the marketing and promotion side of things, seeking blog tours and reviewers. But as many of you have heard the big publishing houses are doing less and less marketing for their writers also. Writers are more on their own than ever. That just means we, as writers, have to grow and stretch ourselves.
I continued to write, finishing a YA dystopian and a humorous middle grade adventure. And with these books I once again took the traditional route. I shelved the dystopian when the market proved too crowded. But just a few days ago, my MG hamster story got two offers from agents, and I’m now signed with Sarah Negovetich. Go here for that story.
You could say I’m having my cake and eating it too. Instead of taking one path to publishing, I’ve got two.
Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.
No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.
Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.
With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.
She is a co-host of the yearly contest Query Kombat. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer’s Double Edge. She’s repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary. To learn more about Michelle check out her blog, It’s in the Details, or follower her on Twitter or Facebook.