I Turned Down A Deal.

I wasn’t sure whether to write about this or not, but I thought sharing my story might make someone else in a similar situation feel like they have a choice. Because at first, I didn’t think I did.

I’ve entered my women’s fiction on the contest circuit for awhile (and have since pretty much retired it from that, because overexposure in that respect could be detrimental, IMO).

Dreaming of becoming an author, no doubt.
Dreaming of becoming an author, no doubt.

In one particular contest, I received several requests from agents. And one from a publisher. The publisher asked for pages, then a full. Then a few days later, they offered to publish my book.

Granted, they’re a small publisher, and the offer wasn’t out of this world. The first release would’ve been electronic, and printed copies would come if so many sales were made, but the two staff members who’d read pages, and the editor, wanted *me*. They wanted my work. The contract mentioned “future books”. HOLY COW. After all this time, someone saw something in it that said, “Yes, this should be published, and by us.” That felt like validation. That felt amazing.

But I never wanted to go direct to publishers. I’ve dreamt of having an agent relationship, of working alongside someone who *gets* what I write, and can help me shape it into the best possible presentation to send to publishers. Someone who will work with me throughout my career, explain contracts and legal mumbo-jumbo, who I can seek advice from, who has the experience that I simply don’t. Maybe I’ve spent too much time on Twitter, wistfully admiring repped authors’ gushing relationships with their agents, exchanging in-jokes and kitty photos. But honestly, I want someone who sees me as a professional, and will help me make that dream come true. Someone who knows what they’re doing. I don’t feel qualified to represent myself.

So I had to finally admit I had a choice. I had to choose whether to accept this contract. Would it be my only chance? Will an agent EVER love my manuscript enough to call me? What if it doesn’t happen with this manuscript? What if it doesn’t happen with *any*? If I say no to this publisher, will I blow my only chance?

I respect self-published authors because that’s a LOT of hard work – I recently went to a writer’s conference at Bloomsbury in London, and a self-published author/social media “expert” came in and explained how much she does to stay afloat. It’s not for me, I don’t think. My gut says so.

And my gut said no, to this publisher. That’s all it came down to. I accepted the risk that no one may ever give me another chance again, as long as I live. But I don’t believe that will happen–otherwise I wouldn’t still be here. I decided I believe in my work more than that.

It was really hard, especially when I replied to the editor’s offer within the 2-week timeframe. I responded after 1 week. She didn’t reply. 2 weeks went by, she still didn’t reply, so I emailed to ask if she received my response. She sent me an unpleasant answer, inferring I’d missed my chance and telling me I’d wasted her time when I said, “This was a very difficult decision, and I’m so grateful for your offer, but I’ve considered it carefully, and I’ve decided to decline.” I was TORN. Torn. And I told her so. I thanked her for her time. I was nearly in tears typing that heartfelt response to her offer. And in return, she was snippy and short. That’s what I got for going with my gut. But you can’t please all the people all the time.

I keep working, polishing, accepting feedback, working with CPs, and attending Writer’s Digest webinars. Most importantly, I keep listening to my gut. I think one day, I will get more than that, for going with it.

If you find yourself in a similar position, for what it’s worth, I hope you do the same – whether your gut says yes or no, whatever you feel deep down, you have to stick with. And once you do, don’t wonder “what if”. Just move forward.

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16 thoughts on “I Turned Down A Deal.

  1. Those little glimmers do give hope, don’t they? And we writers need that flash of light from time-to-time. I love that you stuck with the ideal–your dream–and didn’t allow a less-than-perfect opportunity to draw you away from it.

    That’s the only way dreams get realized.

    Keep that conviction & gut trusting.

    1. Thanks, Lucas. It was definitely one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I ran the offer past friends and a few pubbed authors, pretty much after I’d made my decision though. It’s not about money (of which little was mentioned anyhow ;), but I think to me, about doing what I feel is right for what I’ve worked so long on. Cheers!

  2. Honestly, we think you’ve made the right decision. In situations like this, you must always go with your gut and it sounds like your gut was right. The way that editor responded to you was totally unprofessional and implying you’ve blown your chance is downright cruel. She doesn’t sound like someone to trust a plant with, let alone your novel. Writers are not obligated to accept any deal they’re offered and if it’s not right for you, walk away. Good luck with finding an agent and well done for listening to your gut.

  3. Wow, if that was the editor’s response, then you probably made the right choice. Who knows how they would have been to work with if just your reply declining their request made them rude.

  4. <3 You made the right choice. That editor was very unprofessional, and frankly, the website didn't exactly make them look on the up and up anyway. I didn't find anything when it happened about them on Predators and Editors, but I would suggest giving them a heads up on that. *hugs* It's a great story, it deserves people who GET it. <3

  5. Like I said, and like all the others before me, you made the right choice. Go with your heart, your gut. Be true to yourself and your story! And the publisher solidified your choice in their response. 🙂

    <3

  6. Yep, ditto on what they all said about dodging a bullet….if someone was rude and childish just because they didn’t get their way, you’re far better off not being stuck in a contract dealing with them! You’ll find the kitty-photo-sharing agent of your dreams; of this I have no doubt. Keep working hard!

  7. Thanks for sharing this story! We do have choices, and sometimes it’s hard to separate the dreamer side of ourselves from the business woman side. You were smart to listen to your gut. And that editor was totally unprofessional to boot. I wouldn’t trust my baby with someone like that, and I’m glad you didn’t either!

  8. Good for you! I actually had a similar situation and even though I’m still looking for representation, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. If your gut says no, your heart will never be in it.

    1. It’s a tricky place to be, isn’t it? I’m so glad you’re happy with your decision as well! It’s really hard when all we want is to see our stories out there in the world, being enjoyed 🙂 But you’re right. Heart’s gotta be in it. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. i had a similar situation a long time ago with a very small publisher who wanted my manuscript. i felt like we had different visions for my story and i didn’t want to settle just because it was my first offer. i’d rather not get published then feel like i’ve compromised on my work. the next year, all of that publisher’s books went on hold due to financial difficulties. i knew people who had to wait five years for those books to finally come out and none of them came out with a bang, more like a fizzle.

    as far as your publisher is concerned, i’d have to agree with many others here – this is a buisness and truly professional people realize this. her response shows a level of immaturity and pettiness that you won’t find with other true professionals. they know you may have other options and may turn them down, just as we as writers are often turned down. she shouldn’t have taken it so personally and she should have respected your decision to make the best choice for your work.

    always go with your gut feelings on things like this, i say.

  10. Wow. That was brave of you. I too think you made the right decision. Finding an agent who gets your work is the dream of so many of us, but even then, you can find yourself in a similar position. Not all agents are created equal either. But after trying for so long, when someone says YES to the manuscript, it is understandable that any writer would feel torn. At least you had the experience of validation, which should give you hope for the future. Someone else will want it too.

    1. I certainly hope so. Thanks for the encouragement. It IS nice to know someone was interested, and as I’ve said before, I’m really glad I turned this down because it’s pushed me to make a lot of changes to the story for the better! Thanks again for stopping by 🙂

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