My Publishing Journey
SheWrites.com, the community for women writers I founded in 2009 with Deborah Siegel, had been up and running for nearly three years when I got a call from my friend Brooke Warner, who was then the Executive Editor of Seal Press. Seal had been an independent publisher, but it was acquired by Perseus in 2007, and Brooke’s experience had gone from fulfilling to frustrating. Because of the enormous pressure being placed on her to acquire books written by authors with “platforms,” Brooke was often having to turn down projects she loved. As an author, this injustice resonated with me, as I knew many writers with good books that deserved to be in the world who had been rejected by the big publishing houses not because they weren’t editorially worthy, but because they couldn’t pass muster with the marketing department. Brooke’s vision was to create a press where authors paid up front for the editorial and production services we provided, but kept a much higher percentage of every sale. That way we could choose books based on their quality (vetting being key to our model, as SWP is not a platform for self-publishers), not on whether or not we thought they would sell. Happily, many of our titles thus far have sold—and all of them have justly made their authors very proud.
When it came time to publish my novel, I decided it would be stupid not to have my agent shop it around to see what kind of offers traditional publishers might make. But after receiving a good offer with a five-figure advance from a major house—a deal not too dissimilar to the one I took for my first book, which I understood would not come with the dream-team of publicists and marketers many first-time authors wrongly assume a traditional book deal guarantees—I decided to put my faith in the hybrid model we have developed with SWP instead. Because we have a traditional distribution deal with Ingram Publisher Services, Wishful Thinking is available everywhere it would have been otherwise, and I will recoup my investment after selling about two thousand books. (Help me out and preorder one!)
If you are an aspiring author, a publishing nerd, or both, and want to find out more about SWP, here are some links for you.