I shared my path to publication on Wednesday, but here's a brief recap: I queried the book, no one wanted a dystopian, decided to self-publish, boss lady asked to represent it, got an offer from a small press, politely declined offer, still self-publishing.
So yes, I did get an offer from a very lovely publishing house. They've put out some great books and I would have considered myself in excellent hands if I had decided to sign with them. But I didn't. Because it wasn't the right decision for me. But how will you know if an offer is right for you?
Know your strengths
For me, I know marketing. It's something I've done a lot of and I continue to stay on top of marketing trends and read the latest marketing books. It's a bit of a passion of mine. I'm also a spreadsheet ninja, making me a rare creative type who also likes excel. Combining these two skills means I can handle the marketing/PR aspect of a book release. Knowing this allowed me to consider offers from houses that don't have a strong marketing presence.
Know your weaknesses
I'm bad at making decisions for myself. I can dish out advice to authors all day long, in fact, I do. But deciding on a final cover design or picking a proofreader for myself is the type of decision that freezes me in panic. What if I make the wrong decision? So knowing a publisher would make these decisions for me was a relief. Also, as marketing savvy as I am, I know that getting my book into physical stores is not in my skill set. So it was important to me to find a publisher that had a good distribution plan and network, with a track record of store placement.
Know your budget
Self publishing a book the right way is not a cheap endeavor. Yes, I know there are ways to do it for almost nothing, but I don't understand making that decision. After spending so much time carefully crafting every word, why would you doom your book by skimping on editing and cover design? Publishers, of course, cover all of this. But don't be fooled into thinking a publisher covers everything. You'll still may need to fork over some expenses such as travel costs, swag and other incidentals. Before you sign, know exactly what the publisher will cover and what will be left to you.
Know your plans
What does this book look like to you? How do you see it? What's in store for these characters and this world. If you are planning to write an 11-book series based around these characters, make sure you find a publisher that supports those types of projects, even if they don't want to sign all 11 books right now. Kelsie Macke is in a band with her husband and she wanted to release a soundtrack with her book. She found a publisher that would help make that happen and tie the two together. Not all publishers would have done that. Knowing your plans keeps you from ending up with a publisher who can't get you there.
Now is the time to be truly honest with yourself. What end result is going fulfill you as a writer? If you know that you aren't going to feel like a real author until you can find your book at a Barnes & Noble, then make sure that's what you're getting from your publisher. If you want professional reviews, a booth at BEA, a high profile blog tour, or whatever else, get it in the contract. Now, we all want lots of things. This isn't about trivial want. This is about what you need as a writer. Will you have regrets if x, y, and z don't happen? Then make sure you find a publisher who can make those happen.
There is no right answer
What's right for me may be awful for you and vice versa. If there's anything I've learned since leaping into this industry it's that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of 'right answers' out there. It's your responsibility as an author to figure out what yours is.
Sarah Negovetich knows you don't know how to pronounce her name and she's okay with that.
Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it's accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.
Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.
Her debut novel, Rite of Rejection, a YA Dystopian, releases December 4th, 2014. You can learn more about Sarah and her books at www.SarahNegovetich.com.