Today I am happy to host Samantha Bryant on my blog. I know Samantha through Google+ (home to many a fine writer), and I jumped at the chance to have her guest post here. For me, a writer who chose to self-publish, it’s really good to see the thought process of a writer who published with a small, independent publisher, and to see the results. Food for thought.
So read on to find out about Samantha, her book, and her path to having it published. And then pick it up for free, today and tomorrow (see details at the bottom of this post)! Congrats, Samantha!
Small, Independent Publishers: Neither a Jet Plane, Nor a Slow Boat to China
My Path to Publishing
You hear a lot about how slowly the traditional publishing world moves. It’s been described as glacial in speed, and in the midst of it, that doesn’t feel inaccurate. It’s a source of frustration, especially for eager new writers who are anxious to get their words into the hands of readers. The slow pace is part of why many writers choose to independently publish their works. (Though impatience can lead to a poor product in some of those cases, too).
I didn’t self-publish Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, though I was looking into it, and might well consider that route for other works in the future. For me, it came down to whether I had the money to do it right–hiring editors and artists to make my book the best it could be–and whether I had the chutzpah to market it completely by myself. I came up short on both those fronts. My day job is not lucrative, at least not in dollars. (I’m a public middle school teacher). My marketing knowledge can be boiled down to, “Well, I know what I don’t like.”
So, I took a sort of middle road, shopping my novel around to only small, independent publishers. For those considering a similar route, here’s how it went for me.
Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, from conception of the idea to a book people can now buy was almost exactly three years.
In March of 2012, I was struggling to finish the first novel I ever actually finished (unpublished as of yet, His Other Mother, women’s issues fiction). It’s a dark story and it was emotionally hard on me to finish it. So, part of my brain was trying to escape.
My husband and I were talking while we walked our dog one night about how superheroes all seem to be teenagers and if that meant that hormones cause superpowers. I said something like, “Well, if hormones give superpowers, then menopausal women should be the most powerful people on the planet!” He laughed and told me to write it down and a novel was born. I came up with the general concept and some rough character descriptions for a superhero novel, escapism at its best. I filed them away and used them as a carrot to make myself get to the end of that first book stick.
In July of 2012, I finished writing His Other Mother (that one took four years just for the writing of the first draft, and several more months for rewrites), and let myself start writing Going Through the Change. I finished the first draft in August 2013 (somewhere in there, I picked up my Magic Spreadsheet habit, a tracking tool for a daily writing word count which really increased my productivity). By the end of 2013, the book had been through my critique group and some beta readers and I had rewritten it. Keep in mind I also had a demanding full time day job (middle school teaching) and a family (husband, two children and a dog) during this time–there was only 1-2 hours per day I could get for direct focus on writing, often less.
I started querying it and submitting it in January 2014. I won’t make you suffer through the rejections, requests for full manuscript that still got rejected, and no-answer-answers with me. But I did only try small and independent presses and found that the response time was usually a month or less. The querying process for His Other Mother at bigger, more literary focused presses, for contrast, took roughly six months each time I submitted it.
The story for Change ends happily with a book contract from Curiosity Quills Press in August 2014. I found them via an online friend who also publishes with them. I liked them because they had a focus on speculative fiction, and had published a very popular supervillain book already. The covers of their other publications looked good, and I am shallow enough to judge the quality of the product at least in part on the cover.
I also liked the transparency of their terms. You could see what the contract terms would be without even submitting anything. It made me feel like I knew what I was getting into. I also checked in with Preditors & Editors and cyber-stalked them a little to make sure no big red flags went up before I sent in my work.
CQ had a really quick process. From my initial query to a request for a full and then to my contract offer was only a space of about two weeks. Compare that to my submissions of His Other Mother to larger presses. I often waited six months for a non-specific and unhelpful “No.” The process from there was initially very busy with two editing passes, proofreading, formatting, marketing planning, and cover design, followed by what felt like a very long lull, until ARCs were released and I could start seeking reviews and promotional opportunities. Book release day was April 23, 2015, almost exactly three years to the day since I thought up the idea. In traditional publishing, I’d call that speedy-fast-quick!
For my debut novel, I don’t think I could have asked for a smoother, more comfortable process. CQ has a very family feel and the other authors, editors, artists, proofreaders, etc. have been nothing but supportive, helpful, and kind. Working with a small publisher didn’t free me from marketing responsibilities, but it did give me partners and support through that, people to ask questions of and trade favors with. It opened some doors that maybe would have been harder to open otherwise, like getting on shelves in bookstores or featured on certain blogs and review sites. Because I had a publisher behind me, I didn’t have to fight as hard to have the book taken seriously in some settings.
I’m happy with the quality of the product itself. I’ve got a wonderful cover that works much better than any of my own ideas would have (artist: Polina Sapershteyn). After all, I’m a writer, not a graphic artist. The book was professionally edited, formatted, and proofread on the company’s dime and seems to play well in all formats as a result. I’m not sure I could’ve done that on my own or afforded to hire it done.
Only time will tell if I’ve made the right decisions for my debut novel, but right now, I’m feeling good!
Going Through the Change is going through a change in price for a couple of days in early August. On August 5th and 6th you can get the Kindle edition for free on Amazon. Check it out at: http://bitly.com/face-the-change
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills. You can find her online on her blog, Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.