Follow my journey from Big 5 traditionally-published author to joining an author-owned cooperative publishing group, with travails and triumphs along the way.
NOTE: This series started on Dec. 31. I’m honored to have my seriocomic novel of midlife reinvention PAUSE, published by Book View Cafe, selected by The International Pulpwood Queens Book Club as a December 2022 title. http://www.thepulpwoodqueens.com During my featured week in late December, I was asked to post every day about my novels and writing life, so am reproducing them in this series. All of my novels I discuss are available at https://www.bookviewcafe.com
It’s Day 6 of my featured week on the Pulpwood Queen Presents her Picks. I’m grateful to have my novel PAUSE featured. Today I’ll talk about my writing journey from being a traditionally published novelist to being indie/hybrid published to joining coop publishing group Book View Cafe.
As I might have mentioned earlier, I wrote my first novel, science fiction originally called “Homeworld Stranger,” while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing. (I had switched from studying sciences and dropping out to work as a nuclear reactor operator, before returning to university.)
I sent off the manuscript to a few publishers, knowing nothing about the world of publishing, and when I got a couple of rejections, decided to just box up the manuscript (written on a typewriter in the age of dinosaurs) and store with all my other stuff while I headed off for Caribbean adventures teaching Scuba.
When I returned, my partner persuaded me to try again, and I ended up mistakenly sending it back to Berkley/Ace, who had rejected it the first time, saying there was “too much emotion for science fiction.” This time a new editor took it on, as the field in the early 1980s was opening up more to women authors. They renamed it WILD CARD RUN, which I didn’t like, but I had no choice, and actually it was a decent title reflecting the female lead’s functioning as a wild card in the plot. They also said I had to cut a fifth of the word count, which actually strengthened the story. The novel earned a review in “Publishers Weekly,” sort of a big deal for a paperback mass market genre novel at the time, and I got contracts for two more in the series. Ironically, the PW review ended with, “Stamey puts feeling into this tale of the prodigal daughter.”
The head editor took me to lunch during a writing conference, and said that the publisher would like to position me as their first female “hard science fiction” writer, citing my science background. By that time, I was losing interest in writing that genre, and had drafted the start of what became THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, which utilized real-world myths and some science in an admittedly hard-to-categorize novel (publishers like easily marketable categories). I turned down the offer, which many of my fellow writers groaned over. I still think it was the right decision, as I didn’t want to get locked into producing at least one, probably more, novel a year until I lost my passion. That’s the world of traditional mainstream publishing these days, for genre writers especially, and these days even indie genre writers usually need to crank out multiple titles a year in order to maintain marketability. That road is not for me!
About this same time, Ace/Berkley was absorbed in one of the mergers that reduced the number of big New York publishers and still threatens the industry with diminishing choices. Ace forgot to put my third novel into distribution, right when I had sent out marketing materials and had received more positive advance reviews.
I’m posting my complete blog entries on my author website at www.sarastamey.com, where you can finish this episode and enjoy all the accompanying photos. Please continue reading by clicking on the link below, then you can return here (use “go back” arrow above) to comment, ask questions, or join a conversation. We love your responses!
You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Café is Pause, a First Place winner of the Chanticleer Somerset Award and an International Pulpwood Queens Book Club selection. “A must-read novel about friendship, love, and killer hot flashes.” (Mindy Klasky). Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com
2 thoughts on “The Rambling Writer’s Featured Week with the International Pulpwood Queens Book Club, part 6”
I am married to an award-winning author, and my best friends are awarded authors, so I am somewhat familiar with the publishing business and it’s struggles. One of the funniest things I have seen is a crime show episode where the suspect lived in an elegant mansion which he could afford because he was a “published poet”.
Yes, most people have no idea that almost no published authors make a living from it. We are all crazy but compelled to keep telling our stories!