News, Blog & Life as a Creative
I have a story to tell you today, guys, and unlike my novels, this one's true. I’m bringing it up now because: 1) I need to get it off my chest; 2) It concerns you, my readers, and, 3) It’s relevant as we celebrate Independence Day here in the US. So here goes.
Last year, behind the scenes, quietly and without fanfare, I walked away from a six-figure deal at auction to go 100% indie.
I felt like it's time to share with you the basics of what went down.
But first, just to backtrack quickly for a moment, some of you might recall how I had decided to take a hiatus from traditional publishing after I finished my Inferno Club series for Avon/HarperCollins.
I needed a break. I had been on deadline for 16 years straight and wanted to explore some new creative directions just for fun. Plus, the disruption going on in publishing made me leery about accepting a new contract too quickly. My spidey senses were tingling about the state of the industry, not in a good way. Why go down with the ship?
Plus, I had already seen the promise inherent in self-publishing.
As many of you know, I started self-publishing my middle-grade Gryphon Chronicles fantasy series (kind of in the Harry Potter genre), co-writing with my husband, Eric, as E.G. Foley.
We self-published those because I did not want the stress of juggling two sets of publisher deadlines.
So by the time I took my hiatus, Eric and I had pretty much gotten the self-publishing procedures down. Well, after taking some nice creative "refresh" time to explore a couple of side avenues, I eventually started itching to get back to my first love, Regency Historicals.
Since it takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R for new books to be released through the big New York publishers, I didn’t want my readers to have to wait so long for my next book. They'd already waited patiently during my creative experiments with epic fantasy romance and small-town contemporaries.
Realizing I would need a two-pronged approach, I started working up TWO different historical romance projects, both fun. One was Moonlight Square, which I began self-publishing right away.
The other was a secret project that was meant to be put into the slow-moving New York publishing pipeline, to come out…whenever they'd be able to release it.
Well, guys, let me tell you, I tried. For my readers' sakes, I really tried to go back to traditional publishing once I saw the chaos in the industry finally calming down into a "new normal."
I realize that many of my readers find the mass market paperback format familiar and convenient. For that reason, I thought that going back to New York publishing was worth serious consideration.
I won’t deny that having an auction was cool. It was the second one I’ve had in my career, and those are pretty exciting. They're kind of the white elephant that every aspiring author dreams of.
For those who aren’t sure what that term actually means, a literary auction is where the author creates a proposal for a new book or series, and the agent gets a bidding war going among the publishing houses, aimed at landing the author the best possible deal.
Getting ready for the auction, again, took F-O-R-E-V-E-R, but once it started, I was thrilled to learn that three of the Big 5 houses adored the proposal for my next historical romance series so much that they decided to participate.
The fourth house also loved the project, but—in a worrisome sign—the editor told us she wasn't allowed to participate because her house is no longer acquiring ANYTHING for mass-market paperback.
Wow. Let that sink in.
If you're a writer, the reason that’s chilling news is because where one of these big houses goes, the rest usually follow.
Anyway. For me, mass market paperback was the whole point of having the auction, so that house didn’t participate. Still, I was deeply honored that all of these legendary executive editors wanted to work with me.
Once the bidding started, it was time to wait by the phone. I jumped out of my skin every time it rang.
My agent kept calling me with details on the offers. We debated and haggled, and then, within a few days, we had a great offer on the table from an excellent house.
I decided to accept…pending the arrival of the paperwork.
Ah, the devil’s always in the details, my friends. It took four long months for them to send me the contract, and that’s when things got hairy.
Publishing contracts are about 30 pages long, and every line has to be scrutinized so that you don’t inadvertently screw yourself over. Never forget, newbie authors, that long after the happy dance is over, you will have to live with what you sign.
Ultimately, I couldn’t sign the thing. There was some legal language in certain clauses that the media giant was not willing to change, so I walked.
It was super scary, of course. Traumatic. I think even my poor agent was traumatized! And like most battle-hardened NYC agents, she’s usually bomb-proof.
(Freaked out as I was by my own decision, the slow clap that one of my best author friends gave me afterward was pretty hilarious. Kinda made it all worthwhile. I'm told I have huge cajones, lol. Heh, guess I have something in common with my romance heroes, after all.)
Certainly, I don’t blame anyone for it not working out. Not my agent, and certainly not the editor, who’s outstanding at her job and widely respected in the industry. I would’ve loved to work with her, but what can you do.
It’s just business. Sure, we could blame the folks in the legal and contract departments, but they’re just doing their job—like great whites, lol. These are simply the waters they swim in; they eat authors for breakfast, and if you want to be a writer, you have to understand that the system is set up for them, not you.
That’s why you have to protect yourself in every way imaginable in the contract.
There’s no need to get into the nitty-gritty of what caused the kerfuffle, but it had to do with the non-compete clause and some conflicts around that.
So here I am. :) From trad-pub to hybrid to full-on indie author, and I’ve gotta say, I am SO EXCITED about the road ahead.
I can finally let my inner rebel go roaring down the road.
For romance readers who still love the mass market paperback format, I would say that, sadly, I think the time is coming when you’re probably going to have to choose between ebooks and the more expensive trade paperbacks. (Trade paperbacks are what you call the upmarket, larger-sized soft-covers in the $15 range. They’re especially popular in genres like mainstream women’s fiction.)
It seems like the profit margins on the mass-market books are just too small, compared to what stores can make by carrying trade paperbacks and hardcovers instead. Bookstores can eke out a more stable living by selling those more expensive books.
I wish all it weren’t so, and I am happy to admit that things can always change. I guess it’s not out of the realm of reality that mass market could pick up again and start going the other way, but I doubt it. Across entertainment media, that does not appear to be the trend. Streaming is the trend—whether it be movies, TV, music, or now, digital books.
Don't forget what that fourth house told me, after all. No more mass markets. This, from a huge and influential publisher. They're phasing them out.
Heck, even the New York Times stopped issuing weekly bestseller lists for mass market paperbacks back in 2017. Which is really sad for up-and-coming romance authors. Because now they’ll probably never get a shot at becoming New York Times bestselling authors.
So, to wrap this post up, I’m a realist when it comes to business, and I have to deal with the situation on the ground.
On a personal level, I absolutely love the control that self-publishing gives me over the final product, from the stories themselves to the book covers and titles and everything.
True, it’s a lot more work, but it’s definitely empowering. Who doesn’t want to be their own boss if that’s a viable option?
Let freedom ring!
Sometimes you wake up on a Spring morning and there’s snow—lots of it!—as many of you have been experiencing. Me, too.
I woke up on this fair Sunday excited to get over to the plant nursery and pick out flowers for the pair of urns I have outside my front door. (I’m thinking a tall spiky plant for the center, surrounded by begonias or geraniums if they have them yet, alternating with soft feathery Mexican Heather to fill in the space and hang over the edge.) But lo and behold, my container gardening plans fizzled as I woke up to find a coating of snow all over the ground.
The expectant mother robins perched in my apple tree (which is covered in buds—I can hardly wait to see all those pink blooms) looked extremely annoyed. I swear their little beaks were frowning, and who can blame them? But hey, snow happens!
It’s ironic. Even as we’re Spring cleaning, decluttering, and organizing at this time of year, the whole theme of April seems to be surprises. I guess it’s appropriate that the month starts off with April Fools’ Day ~ to say nothing of tax day! When I was thinking about what to say on today’s blog, it occurred to me that maybe the overall lesson of April each year is simply this: Roll with it.
You never know what you’re gonna get in April. Dark dramatic thunderclouds or balmy skies. Massive wind gusts or playful breezes perfect for flying kites. It’s probably good to get this annual reminder that we can’t always plan everything.
Lord knows that describes how my writing went last week—which is probably why I noticed this! I don’t mind telling you it’s aggravating when you find yourself running behind. Aside from working on the next Moonlight Square book, and revising the first Harmony Falls novel, I am also finishing up the last couple of chapters in the fifth Gryphon Chronicles story, SECRETS OF THE DEEP. Our hero Jake is thirteen now, so maybe that is why this book is being so ornery. (I don’t know about you but I was a PITA at thirteen.)
Another massive tome of some 120,000 words, SECRETS OF THE DEEP is so close to being done. I really thought I could do at least two of the four final chapters last week. But, surprise, surprise, I ran into a big action climax scene that slowed my progress to a snail’s pace. This was mainly because I had to stop and invent a bunch of stuff setting up the final installment of the series. So, the chapters I’d hoped to finish didn’t get done, and I’d been grinding my teeth over it. But when I saw that snow this morning and the pissed-off looking robins, I had to chuckle at myself and got the message loud and clear: Roll with it, baby! Lol.
Life is full of surprises, big and small – heck, some of us were born as surprises to our parents! As the old saying goes:
Man plans ~ God laughs.
So now hopefully I will remind myself next time a "surprise" pops up to look for the beauty, pleasure, or at least the humor in these little unexpected twists and turns. Ah, well! If all of life really could be orderly and planned, how boring would that be?! Do you like surprises? Vote & share with your friends! :)
By the way, if you got pranked this April Fools’ Day or if you tricked somebody else, PLEASE share the gory details below! I would love to hear all about it. :)
Thanks for visiting! I hope your Spring is off to a great start.
PS—My April Giveaway for subscribers has been announced, and it’s a good one ~ a triple whammy! You can check it out here.
This Christmas, venture to the edge of the vast Pennsylvania forest, and fall in love with a charming, Americana small town with a heart as big as the great outdoors...
Today, Dear Reader, you're invited to take a stroll into the world of my new series, Harmony Falls ~ and meet my awesome co-writer, and sister, Jaz Kennedy!
While you're here, Jaz & I invite you to VOTE for which season is the sexiest to take a dreamy, romantic getaway weekend in & around this idyllic mountain town. There's so much to do and see there, we couldn't decide!
Vote Below and then Leave a Comment and you could win a FREE autographed copy of DREAM OF ME (Harmony Falls, Book 1)! Read on...
Dear Reader ~ How lucky am I? Not only do I get to write novels for the most awesome readers around, but now I get to co-write my first contemporary romance series with one of my favorite people on earth: my sister, Jaz Kennedy.
We're the bookends in our family of four girls: I'm the oldest, she's the youngest. I have been bugging her to write fiction for YEARS because I had read nonfiction and essay style work from her over time, and you can just tell when the talent's there. Finally, the time was right for us to dive in on a collaboration, and JUST AS I SUSPECTED (never question your big sister! lol) the project was a great fit for us both. And though we have always been close, working on Harmony Falls together has brought us even closer.
That makes me doubly happy because "family" is one of the main values we're bringing into the series itself, along with a lot of Foley-girl humor and, of course, the tearjerker moments. It would hardly be a romance without 'em! Oh, yes--and the steamy bits...but I think I'm officially in charge of those. *g*
I invite you to stop by Jaz's website to learn more about her background, but in the meanwhile, I wanted Jaz to do the honors of telling you guys more about the SETTING for our Harmony Falls series.
It's near and dear to our hearts, not the least because it's right in our own back yard here in Pennsylvania! You know what they say: Write what you know. Not so easy to do with Regency romances or Victorian children's fantasy adventures, to say nothing of medieval fantasy romance, lol!
But that's why I needed Jaz to do this project with me, ya see. Because while I've had my head in the clouds in wondrous worlds of long-ago-and-far-away, knights and castles, pirates, and dukes and ballrooms, Jaz has had both feet firmly planted in the here and now.
It's proved to be a good balance, because while I had all these story ideas full of warmth and humor and wonderful characters tugging at my heart, the modern world is not so much my thing, whereas my sister has already got a strong, well-developed contemporary voice. Put that together and, oh, geez, all I can say is that I think my literary idols, the Bronte sisters, would've at least given us big, sister-writer high-fives. Oh, let me shut up already. *g* I'm just excited.
Folks: here's Jaz to tell you about the world of Harmony Falls with a glimpse of all the attractions year round. But don't forget to VOTE at the end & leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of DREAM OF ME (Harmony Falls, Book 1)
Rugged peaks, moss-covered boulders, towering firs, roaring whitewater…
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About: For 22 years, I've been a full-time novelist. This blog follows my journey as a creative. Pursuing a dream. Having fun. Always learning. Rolling with the punches. And never giving up my belief in happily-ever-after. Welcome.
My Latest Release!
Duke of Shadows
A heartbroken belle, a missing suitor, and a heroic duke in disguise.