This week, I did something I hadn’t done in nearly five years: I wrote a book proposal. Yep, I hit upon a project that I think would be better off produced through a traditional publishing company. If the proposal does its job, and the project sells, I’ll be more forthcoming about what the project is and why I went this way.
Suffice to say, these days all writers have options—and as I weighed my options on this particular project, I realized that the best way to handle it was to license it to some place traditional.
. . . .
At the same time, I’ve finished the first novel in a series I’ve wanted to do for almost ten years. The Fates series, which I’ve written under the name Kristine Grayson, introduced three teenage girls who were acting as the Interim Fates. I had written Tiffany’s story and had trouble selling it eight years ago. When I reread it, I realized that the book was just fine. Then I mentally reviewed the rejections I’d received on the project back then, and realized what the problem had really been.
The rejections had all focused on the “dialect” and the unacceptability of the point-of-view character. The young adult editors who saw the book said the point of view was unacceptable for the market, and no YA reader wanted to read about characters like this.
At the time I was truly confused. I’d sold books about those kinds of characters—magical characters negotiating our world—before. I couldn’t figure out what these editors were talking about. When I asked my then-agent, he said that the editors were just clueless. Comforting, sure, but not helpful.
Now I realize he didn’t want to tell me what the editors really meant.
So I didn’t know what I had done “wrong” until this year (nearly a decade later). It was a problem I had seen before; I just hadn’t recognized it.
Tiffany is African-American. Her race shows up in the very first paragraph. There is no dialect—there isn’t even slang in that opening. Just a rather sassy voice of a confused young woman who has entered our world for the very first time.
I never thought of the book as anything but a Fates book, so when I got horrid (and I truly mean horrid) rejections—mostly based on that first chapter saying that no one would read a book like this let alone publish it, I thought I had done something wrong in the writing.
I hadn’t done anything wrong. Unless you consider a non-white protagonist to be something wrong. I hadn’t. I still don’t.
But now I don’t have to deal with the perceptions of what is or is not acceptable to the YA market. I can just finish the trilogy-plus that I’ve been trying to write for years now.
The book is now in production, and I finished the next book, dealing with Tiffany’s half-sister, Crystal. In March, after I finish the seven (seven!) short stories I’d promised that are all due right now, I’ll write Brittany’s story, and then the final wrap-up novel.
Those novels will be published, one a month, later in the year.
I could never have done this in traditional publishing. Obviously, right?, since I couldn’t sell the first one because of Tiff’s race. But I’m not really referring to that: I’m referring to the one-per-month pace.
As most of you know, I’m publishing one novel per month right now, and whoa doggies, did that turn out to be a good idea.
Not just from a sales standpoint—which is sooooo much better than expected (thank you, Retrieval Artist fans!)—but from a creative standpoint.