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 (even in their level 1 and 2 heat categories) of bare-chested Fabio looking men and half-naked women on the covers. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with those types of books. However, my novel is not that type of novel. Yes, I realize it is a historical romance, but it’s not your typical historical romance, and having a Fabio like cover would have been the biggest regret of my life.
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 final say and when you sign away rights like that, if they want the latter, well then you are going to get the latter. 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.