By the time I was ready to submit my memoir, Loveyoubye, for publication I was already burned out from my efforts to get my two YA African-based novels, Monkey’s Wedding and Mine Dances, published. A real sob story, that one. At the last moment my publisher merged with another house and I was dumped. This was during all the changes taking place in the publishing industry, along with the advent of vampire and teen fantasies.

My agent and I parted company and I launched back into the fray to get published. But then my husband started disappearing for weeks at a time and I threw myself into writing Loveyoubye to try to make sense of it all. After I finished the book, I went through the whole rigmarole of querying again and got a few nibbles. But it was only after I was rejected by a well-known agent, a solid recommendation (which assured me of at least a fair chance)—“the writing is excellent, but it would be a tough sell in today's publishing climate”—that I decided to check out other publishing options.

As I’m sure anyone who has researched alternatives to traditional publishing knows, it’s a mind-boggling, soul-sucking process. Even the terms given to the various available options are confusing. Literary agent Jane Friedman breaks it down to “Partnership,” “Fully-Assisted,” “DIY + Distributor” and “DIY Direct,” while others contend that overall there are only two options: “Subsidy” and “Self-Publishing.” The more I researched, the more frustrated and discouraged I became. The “subsidy/partnership/fully-assisted” publishing services were either too expensive, or, as in the case of Windy City, who published a friend’s book, way too expensive (plus they did a bad editing job).

And as for self-publishing. I’d read every how-to book I could get my hands on, as well as all those online guides. I knew that if I set my mind to it, I could do it. But honestly, I really didn’t want to. The whole proposition made me want to take up drinking the hard stuff. And then there was the stigma attached to self-published books because of the generally poor quality of the writing/editing, along with the fact that unless you’re a marketing maniac like Amanda Hocking, et al, most self-pubbed books don’t have a long shelf life. I didn’t want to be another Wile E. Coyote charging over the cliff, beep-beeping all the way to the bottom of the canyon floor.

So while I agonized over which path to take, I had Loveyoubye professionally edited. Whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to make sure I started out with a scoured and polished manuscript. I chose Thomas White, a recommended professional editor and Pushcart nominee. He not only helped me tighten and clarify, he asked all those questions my mentor and other readers hadn’t; he made me dig clear down to my toes.

Enter She Writes Press. Something a little different. Although it called itself Partnership Publishing, SWP vetted submissions. That’s a biggie. It took three months for me to decide to sign. Still hoping for a publisher on a white horse to come galloping along with a huge advance in hand? Probably. But the fact of the matter is I needed to move forward, a big theme in my book. So I signed. Decision made. And then it struck me: I had committed to having my heart, guts, and soul laid out in print. The final step forward.

In tailoring my essay as to how I made the decision to publish with SWP, I didn't mention the recently added bonus of having Ingram Publishing Services come on board as SWP's distributor. They usually only handle traditional publishers. It was a coup for SWP. And a coup for me. Now I'll have a sales force behind me, as well as become eligible for reviews by Publisher's Weekly, and similar outlets that normally don't review "partnership" or self-published books. Loveyoubye will be coming out in April 2014. 

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Tags: burned, industry, maniac, marketing, memoir, out, partnership, publishing, querying, rejected, More…self-publishing, sob, stigma, story

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Comment by Nina Gaby on July 12, 2014 at 10:18am

Same here. And now I'm like you a year ago- "Decision made. And then it struck me: I had committed to having my heart, guts, and soul laid out in print." Glad I found this post, it sucks to feel like the only person terrified after the decision is made!

Comment by Joanne C. Hillhouse on March 11, 2014 at 9:02am

"I knew that if I set my mind to it, I could do it. But honestly, I really didn’t want to. The whole proposition made me want to take up drinking the hard stuff." LOL I've never heard my feelings on this articulated so precisely. Glad you found a path that works for you...without hitting the hard stuff.

Comment by Suzanne Linn Kamata on August 1, 2013 at 8:02pm

Yes, persistence is important! I just signed a contract for a book I wrote 15 years ago. At one point, I had a hot shot agent for the book who couldn't sell it, revised it over the years, and finally found a home for it!

Comment by Rossandra White on August 1, 2013 at 7:37am

Thanks Suzanne, I am indeed going forward with Monkey's Wedding and Mine Dances. I am nothing if not persistent!

Comment by Suzanne Linn Kamata on August 1, 2013 at 4:28am

I love the title of your book, but I hope you will persist with your YA African-themed novels. I'd love to read those!

Comment by Rossandra White on July 31, 2013 at 9:15pm

Hey RevLa. Love it!

Comment by Rev. LaWaughn Rouse on July 31, 2013 at 7:26pm

Thanks Rossandra and you can call me RevLa like all of my friends...smile and I will keep on writing and you too

Comment by Rossandra White on July 31, 2013 at 1:48pm

Thanks ladies for the good wishes and cheering Celine, Loveyoubye is coming out March 2014.

Comment by Rossandra White on July 31, 2013 at 1:46pm

Just noticed how I mangled Rev. LaWaughn Rouse's name. So sorry!

Comment by Celine Keating on July 31, 2013 at 8:33am

A terrific post - when is your book coming out?  Also, I have to say your title is fantastic !  I've always laughed when I hear that said at the end of conversations; brilliant of you to use it in this way.

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