Last night, I turned down an offer from a publisher. I’ll give you a second to pick up your jaw off the floor.
Turning them down was not the “big mistake.”
The entire affair gave me a “Pretty Woman” flashback, I think there’s an important lesson in the transaction, and so I’ll walk you through the events.
I write about the big questions (life and death, individualism, what makes us human, discrimination) through a lens of soft science fiction. And then I stumbled across a call for short stories outside of my genre; they wanted ‘zombie apocalypse’ flash fiction (5,000 – 10,000 words). I’m always up for a challenge, thought it would be an interesting distraction, and so I worked up an idea.
I wrote something about the evil men do to one another in tragic times, imagine “Masque of The Red Death” meets “Dawn of The Dead” and a touch of “Eyes Wide Shut”. Trust me, I hit some social mores that made me flinch as I wrote.
So I sent a sample to this independent publishing house and got an offer. They had very nice things to say, wanted a five-year exclusive to the story, and asked me if I could do a minimum of 10,000 words. Home run, right? The Lotus has pulled up to the curb.
So we emailed back and forth, I agreed to the word count and 5-years exclusive, but asked for some controls on the promotion channels and a slightly larger advance.
I got some of what I asked for, some not everything, and then he broke my only rule.
They asked for me to ghostwrite.
So you like my story, enough that you want more, and are willing to pay for it… and you want to take credit for it?
My response: “I appreciate the positive feedback and the offer but I don’t ghostwrite.”
If it’s good enough to print, it’s good enough for my name. Now you’ve forced me to turn this story into something so incredible that I can come back and say…
Update 11/21/2015: If you would like to read this story, I’ve released it as a serialized novel using Channillo.
Write Something That Matters.