I recently finished my 6th Young Adult book with HarperCollins/HarperTeen. The Great Pursuitwill be out March 7, 2017. When asked if I had any new YA ideas to submit to them, my answer was no. Because, to be honest, writing for a publisher was very stressful for me. Nothing against my publisher – my editor was always very encouraging and understanding, and I will miss her like crazy. It wasn’t about them, as much as it was about me. My personality. My fears and insecurities, my tendency to compare myself to other authors at my publishing house, and the way I tend to buckle under pressure and have to push myself. I felt a strong need to be on my own for a while.
Also, I wanted to write something sexier. Truth.
I love YA. I love writing for teens and working with young adults. But I have been craving writing something more mature and stretching my wings. A couple years ago I got an idea for an apocalyptic dystopian. I was writing YA at the time, obviously, and I was fascinated by this idea to show HOW the society falls into dystopia. The problem was, every time I imagined the story, it kept veering out of the YA realm. Everything I kept imagining was not going to be YA appropriate. So I shelved it.
Three months ago I dusted it off and got major butterflies in my belly when I realized I didn’t have to stick to any rules. I could write whatever I wanted, not worrying about genre or age or anything. I could just write from the heart and not hold back. I knew right then, right from he start, that I would be self-publishing it. This book was never submitted to a publisher.
I’ve titled the book UNKNOWN, and what’s fun is that it’s hard to categorize. I know we (the book world and publishers) love to categorize our books and fit them into little boxes of explanation, don’t we? But it’s not that simple with UNKNOWN. You’re going to see UNKNOWNon a lot of different Goodreads shelves: YA (it does have a YA feel for the first part), NA (when we get into the modern-day story, the characters are NA age), dystopian, apocalyptic, adventure, romance, science fiction (scifi), etc.
Why didn’t I want to submit it to a publisher? Besides the pressure of contracts and deadlines, I was really excited about having full control over the process. I wanted to pick my own covers and titles for the series. I want to be able to publish each book in the series as soon as they’re ready, instead of waiting a year or more. I want to be able to choose my own price and if/when it goes on sale. Those are my primary reasons. I still gave myself personal deadlines, but for the first time in years I felt like I was writing for fun.
I should mention this is not my first indie book. Three years ago I wrote a YA Irish fantasy called SEE ME, which my publisher passed on. After much thought and revision, I self-published it. Generally YA does not do as well as NA/adult stories on the self-publishing market, so I’ve been pleased by the response it’s received. It was a great way to test the waters and prepare myself for this moment.
I know there is a stigma against independent publishing among literary professionals, but here’s the thing: I’m done with the snobbery. I do not care. I don’t feel as if my traditionally published books have exactly garnered a ton of respect from the professional world, so that is the least of my concerns. I care only about the paying readers.
I love all of my books, and I stand behind what I’ve created. Each process and experience has been full of life lessons and helped me grow as a person and writer. I can’t say I’ll never write YA again or never go back to traditional publishing. I know my whims enough to know nothing is set in stone. But for now I am going to write this 4-book series, and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m not expecting to hit bestseller lists and get rich. I’m just expecting to find joy in this thing I’ve always loved, and to be a less frazzled mom and wife for my family. I’m grateful self-publishing is an option. I’m grateful my readers will buy my books no matter who is publishing them. Thank you for letting me continue to live my dream. I truly hope you’ll enjoy this story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I’m happy to answer any questions you have.
UNKNOWN is coming August 16, 2016. UNREST, book 2, will be out Jan/Feb 2017.