Declining a Publishing Contract #writing #amwriting #writerslife #writerproblems

As writers trying to find agents and publishers for our novels receiving those emails with the “Congratulations” and “We would like to publish your manuscript” is like winning the lottery. We dream of it day and night – the dream of signing the contract and holding our books in our hands or seeing them on our fireplace mantels. At least I’ve had that dream, the dream of running my fingertips across the cover, then opening up the book and flipping through the pages and pages of my words.

So, in knowing my hopes and dreams for my manuscript, why on this great earth would I ever do what I did today?

Exactly what did I do today, you ask?

Well, I did something that either makes me a) a complete moron or b) a brave and smart writer.

I declined a contract offer from a publisher.

I have to admit that the shock of the whole afternoon still hasn’t worn off. And, seeing email messages from my friends and family saying how shocked they are and how they couldn’t have done what I did isn’t making the choice any easier to swallow. But what’s done is done as I sent the email telling them I respectfully decline the offer.

Do I feel awful? Yes, I do. The fault lies with me, not the publisher. I should have done a little more research before I submitted my query. Do I feel sick? Uh, that would be another yes. After nearly 4 years of writing and editing this novel, dreaming of it being published, I just turned down an offer for exactly what I wanted!

But with that . . .

Do I feel proud? Yes. I know what my novel is and I know what I want for it.

I will not settle and today I proved that I am willing to stand up for myself and my novel.

While this publisher was a good publisher (I even researched reviews on them, which I read nothing but excellent things about them) their selection of books did not match the category I want my novel to be placed in. As I skimmed through the product line, all I saw were rows and rows covers that just didn’t fit the brand I’m trying to create.

Now, granted I could have suggested my ideal covers, perhaps even requested and begged. However, in the contract, it stated that the Publisher would have the final say and when you sign away rights like that, if they wanted something I didn’t, well then I wouldn’t win, would I? Plain and simple.

I’m not bashing the publisher in saying this, though, don’t get me wrong. They have every right to produce what they want to sell and I wish them all the luck in the world with every book they sign.

What I mean is that while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the latter, the latter is not my novel in the slightest and not what I a) want my name on and b) want sitting on my mantel. So, with that, I did what I had to do. I told the publisher I was declining their contract offer. I didn’t want to waste their time and money or mine.

Will I regret it? I don’t think so. In fact right after I sent the email I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders. Even if I never get another offer, I’m glad and proud I stuck to the integrity of what I want and what my novel is.

15 thoughts on “Declining a Publishing Contract #writing #amwriting #writerslife #writerproblems

  1. Congratulations on a second offer, Angela! I remain here, subscribed and reading you via e-mail, even if it’s a slog around the blogesphere on dial-up. Stephen King said be proud of rejection letters. You must be first, with a collection of OFFERS rejected the other way around! If you explained why you were declining, they may counter with a revision that gives you say on your covers. I relate to you in an obscure way; following your gut, even though rejecting a contract is a harder road at first.

    To make what was once an upsetting situation short, I took in a pregnant kitten to foster. A shelter worker found her in the city and said she was only involving them because she couldn’t keep her or offspring. Something clicked inside me: I could. I had a new country home, lots of love, and time. I offered right away to keep her and all four of her infants together. That’s every shelter’s purpose: very good homes! I am a vegetarian animal defender who considers cats equal to humans, so my love and respect have no bounds.

    I spoke up right away but instead of crossing her name off their list (she never saw the shelter and her infants were born in my home); they left me to suffer 2 months. Then, because vaccines were due, they phoned back at last and said keep Mom and I “could adopt the 4 kittens at $100 each”. ???? I’m sure it would sound easy to do that and sign a contract. But many shelters insist on an indoor-only life and it goes against my beliefs. I fought for them to be raised the way I consider healthy (where I live of course. Situations can differ). It was hell but they are very strong, happy, nearly 3 year-olds today. 🙂

  2. To support you with another angle, you know BrasilianPaul Coelho’s famous “The Alchemist”? Years ago a blockbuster film was slated and he was willing to lose money cancelling it. Something bugged him about the tone not showing his core message. Apparently someone else he’s exited about, is making it in 2014.

    Also consider the famous rock singer Alanis Morissette. In the 1980s Canadians knew her has pop teenager ‘Alanis’. She recorded material that was given to her, had a hit or two, but was unhappy. Many years later she rocked out, swearing, with “You Oughta Know” and is more successful than ever. If non Canadians know of her, you see what I mean. 🙂 Janet Jackson blew up in music when she had the guts to hire a manager instead of her Dad. That’s what her album “Control” celebrates.

    1. A few of my writer friends thought I was crazy for saying no to a publisher who wanted to publish it. Yes answers are not often given from publishers and agents to first time writers so for me to do so was gutsy. I’m proud I stood up for myself, though. I just hope that it was a good thing. lol

      1. You may count me as a ‘writer friend’, working on a first draft let alone starting the query. Still I say your gut steered you true.

        Thanks for cheering my cats’ right to (supervised) go outside. I see them from my window, happily sunning in this weather. I’d love to have a remark from you on the blog I wrote about it. It didn’t get seen much because it was my very first post. Hug, Carolyn.

  3. You won’t regret it. I did the same thing and have not regretted it. We know when it’s a good fit and when it isn’t. I’ve seen people who said yes and regretted that. I can live with my no a lot easier. Good for you for having the strength of your conviction.

  4. I think this raises a core point worth discussing. Especially with some making a good case for self-publishing: where do we draw the line from “Oh well, least my work is published”?

  5. What a great story, Angela. I’m disappointed on your behalf and proud of you at the same time (and I only know you through tiny exchanges on our blogs!!). I suppose this is why I decided to self-publish one of my novels. The effort is phenomenal but when it’s ‘out there’ I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing it’s mine. All best,

  6. Thanks for supporting me as these cats’ Momma! With 50% preferring cats stay in, I was anguished about my point being missed (that separating a family was ludicrous, just because I believe in carefully letting cats out).

    I’ve been a blogger 3 years now but it took an urgent issue to start one. I’ve been a writer all my life but never did anything about a novel until now. I’m stuck on research more than creating draft pages but that will change soon. I’m learning the story must get OUT, fiddle with correct details later.

  7. P.S: I have a few chapters done. Am going to redo the tone to be ethereal earlier and change to first person narration. I think if my intro is light too long, I might get categorized as “a cozy” and my idea is a heavier hitter. Oh, the balance between establishing the setting and drumming up action! 🙂 I’m learning a ton by observing and reviewing other books. Carolyn.

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