This post is about an indie publishing contract, (spoiler!) but it’s going to take me a long second to get there.
In November I started teaching high school full time and whew! Teachers I observed or knew often warned me of the workload and it’s all been proved true. And then some. (Even with being at a school with amazing fellow teachers who share so, so many resources with me.)
For my certification classes, I observed in many local middle and high school classrooms, and I never heard, “It’s so exciting you want to teach!” Instead, I got looks of exasperation and, “Good luck.”
Anyway. I didn’t get scared off, and I started strategically substituting (subbing at middle and high schools to see if they’d be somewhere I might like to work) which led to news of a job opening. I believed in this particular school and the students I’d already met so much so that I jumped my timeline.
Timeline had been: finish classes in Dec 2018, finish certification state tests shortly after, half-heartedly look for jobs but hope there wouldn’t be any enticing openings because this would be a great time to focus on writing before full time work in August 2019 (or whenever teachers report).
Timeline became: find out about a job opening in October 2018, sub in that job when available between student teaching, start full-time subbing in that job the day after I finished student teaching (but still had five weeks of classes), interview for the position and get hired mid-November.
I did still finish my classes in December and passed all of my state tests before the end of Christmas break because what’s a few months without sleep?
But what’s this about an indie book contract?
How could that be? I have no time for writing. Well, beyond writing lesson plans, tests, quizzes, etc. That’s it—that’s my writing life as a brand new teacher.
But along came this pitch thing hosted by a small press on Twitter. I had been traditionally querying DENALI SUMMER, and I still had one agent with the full, so I didn’t feel right about pitching that. I decided to see if an older manuscript, DEVIL SPRINGS, would garner any interest.
A partial request became a full request. (Zero excitement from me through that point; I’d already been down that road so many times.) But then, while sitting down for the opening session at the SCBWI conference Miami in January, I opened the email I use for writing, an email I had stopped checking regularly because 1. my work email for teaching was getting all my attention and 2. the agent with DENALI had since sent my most heart-wrenching rejection to date. (As in: I really loved this book. I loved this part. And this thing. And this and this other thing and… that’s why I had your manuscript for so long, but… no.) But in that email account was an email that had been sitting there FOUR DAYS from Filles Vertes Publishing offering me a contract on DEVIL SPRINGS.
This was new. I’d had an editor say she’d get her house to offer me a contract, but then she was fired in a merger and that was the end of that. I’d had an agent say she loved my work, imply a call was coming, and then change course. I’d had agents excitedly request fulls then ghost me even after a nudge. But here was an email from an indie press saying, essentially, let’s do this!
So I did what anyone in this industry does at this point. I started messaging writer friends for insider info and asking questions to people at the SCBWI conference. (Like when are newer indie publishers added to the SCBWI Published and Listed [PAL] listing?)
After much messaging, a few phone calls, and one change to the original contract, I signed with FVP in mid February.
And I continued all things teaching but also sneaking away one evening a week to get started on edits because I have a big fat edit letter with an April deadline attached to it.
Thank goodness for Spring Break and more sneaking away to try and meet that April deadline.
And now I’m a few days away from that April deadline and students, if your Bless Me, Ultima quizzes aren’t graded anytime soon, that’s why.
I can’t wait for you to come to Devil Springs, a fictional town nearish Gainesville, FL. You’ll meet Mesa who’s on quite the journey of doubt but also, maybe, hope? And Drew, her neighbor and close friend with Fragile X Syndrome but with a mosaicism that has him on the highest end of the spectrum. And Cody the yummy love interest. And Cody’s brother Yancey who cracks me up. And Kenzi and Piero and, of course, Avis. Mayor Avis Kneller who wants to change the town’s name as part of an official banning of the devil from Devil Springs. Avis also happens to be Mesa’s grandmother and guardian. Good times.
Now excuse me… I need to get back to editing. My book. That’s under contract.