[SWP: BEHIND THE BOOK] Loveyoubye
Contributor
Written by
Rossandra White
July 2013
Contributor
Written by
Rossandra White
July 2013

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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Comments
  • Nina Gaby

    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!

  • Joanne C. Hillhouse

    "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.

  • Suzanne Linn Kamata

    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!

  • Rossandra White

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

  • Suzanne Linn Kamata

    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!

  • Rossandra White

    Hey RevLa. Love it!

  • Rev. LaWaughn Rouse

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

  • Rossandra White

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

  • Rossandra White

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

  • Celine Keating

    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.

  • Mary L. Holden

    Such fortitude in a writer is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • Good for you, Rossandra! Best of luck with your book—and life!

  • Abby Kelly

    Thank you for validating my panic as I look into all the publishing options. I'm taking courage from your steps forward and plan to follow boldly (:

  • Rossandra White

    Good for you Rev. LaWhaughn! Keep on keeping on, right? And write on!

  • Loved this post. I was faced with the same things and now that my book (self-published...plus) is out the toughest part is the marketing and promoting while attempting to create my brand. So far and I say so far...I think because I'm such a novice I don't understand what I'm doing and just doing it. It has yielded in the positive and I'm just working at getting the book out there and holding my breath that it is loved. After all it is my baby! Now I've obtained a publicist (expensive but I can not take it any further than what I've done so far...plus it was a joint birthday present from my husband and children). They will begin in September and I will see how far this goes. Just think once this is over I can someday write about it. Ha,ha,ha

  • Diane Lash Decker

    Thank you! I loved your article !!

  • Rossandra White

    Thanks Linda. Keep going. Good luck!

  • Linda Rosen

    Thanks for the post Rossandra and best of luck with your book. I'm keeping SWP in the back of my mind, for when I get fed up with the agent search and am interested in hearing your publishing story. Keep us posted and enjoy the journey.

  • Rossandra White

    Oh, yes, indeed, I would recommend my editor: Thomas White, bless his serious little heart. No relation, by the way. Thanks Jessica. That's weird how that happens, isn't it? You're trying to get the book out there, push, push, push, and then yikes! People might actually read this. About me.

  • Jessica Vealitzek

    Once I decided on SWP, I had the same feeling--"struck" is a good word. Like, by a bus. Ohhh, this is really happening. People are going to read this.... Great piece, Rossandra.

  • Diane Lash Decker

    You've given me hope! Who was your professional editor? Would you recommend him/her?

  • Carol Clouse

    wow. .. great news about the distributor!

  • Rossandra White

    In tailoring my essay 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 Big Publishing's distribution. It was a coup for SWP. And me. I'll have a sales force behind me, as well as be eligible for reviews by Publisher's Weekly, and a couple other publications that normally don't review "partnership" or self-published books. So hopefully . . .

  • Carol Clouse

    Jullianne, that goes along with Jennifer's comment that just because a book is published, it doesn't mean people will automatically read it ... or buy it!  Yes, I agree, marketing is a huge aspect of book publishing, separate from the book itself.  And there are so many ways to approach that piece of the puzzle. Creativity is key .. especially when you can't pay for a "real" publicist, like most of us...  enjoying this dialogue...

  • Rossandra White

    How about a publicist, Julianne?