Something really strange happened to me about a month ago. I got a book deal.
The first, and only, publisher I sent my book, Almost True, to accepted it for publication. My emotions ranged from excitement to dread to disbelief to excitement to dread to disbelief and then back to dread. My feelings about actually getting published were muddled, to say the least. But the dread persisted and here's why:
I felt guilty. I was supposed get my first rejection letter with the first press I tried to publish with. Real writers get rejections. And they get a lot of rejections. That is part of being an aspiring author. You get rejected but you persist. It builds character. It tests your determination. The submitting and rejecting of work is a crucible. It separates the serious writers from the hobbyists. Plus, it is unheard of to get accepted by the first publisher you try for. Mine was the guilt of an extremely lucky person.
And I felt guilty because I've written a book my grandma won't read because the content could be considered offensive. This issue deserves a post of it's own and maybe one day I will be able to distill into words the complicated relationship I have with my writing and the expectations of my religion. But getting the book deal made me realize I wasn't ready to openly share my writing. I wasn't ready to turn my Facebook page into an advertising platform for my novel because I felt like if I were to say “Please read my book” I'd need to include an asterisk with a message at the bottom of the page that said “unless profanity and mature themes will offend you, then please don't read my book and please don't judge me.”
Aside from the moral dilemma I was having, there were also legal implications with the book deal. I was given seven days to review, sign and return the contract to the publisher. And the contract was written in that stupid legal jargon that hides what you are really getting yourself into. I did what all authors with book deals should do, I had a lawyer look over the contract. Luckily, my father-in-law is a lawyer and he looked at it free of charge. (Well, not entirely free, I had to email him a copy of my manuscript so he could read my book.) I also read the contract about a million times, too. From what I could tell and what I researched on-line, the contract was crap. After an hour long conversation with my lawyer (I love how official that sounds!), we decided I needed negotiate a few things before I signed:
Her email back was professional and the message was this: we don't negotiate on our contracts. So I walked away. I had to protect my book and my fiscal liability.
It never occurred to me that I would get a book deal that I would have to turn down. But given the muddle I was in with publishing, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. If anything, it was a relief in some ways. See, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with my writing. In the mean time, I'm not shopping Almost True around. I'm tinkering with it some more, trying to decide if I should turn it into a book my grandma would feel comfortable reading or if I am secure enough and brave enough to present it as is. Either way, I am confident publication is in my stars, even if I have to self publish.
Hi, I'm Sarah! I write young adult fiction and LDS romance. I live in Salt Lake City, UT with my skinny husband and tiny son. I also am very small.