Not everyone's journey to publication is smooth - in fact, I don't think anyone's is! But some are definitely more turbulent than others. Today's guest shares her difficult and bumpy experience to becoming an indie author.
Megan O'Russell is the author of several Young Adult series which invite readers to escape into worlds of adventure. From Girl of Glass, which blends dystopian darkness with the heart-pounding danger of vampires, to Ena of Ilbrea, which draws readers into an epic world of magic and assassins.
You can follow Megan’s author journey by connecting with her on social media or through her podcast A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl. A Book and A Dream can also be found in video form on her Facebook page, by following her on Instagram, or on her YouTube channel.
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you can join Megan’s readers community at:
I never expected the road to publication to be easy. I didn’t expect the FBI to get involved either.
I didn’t start writing The Tethering because I dreamt of being a published author. To be completely honest, I started writing because I was miserable and needed an outlet.
It took me about five months to finish the first draft of The Tethering and about a year to edit the manuscript into something people might actually want to read. It wasn’t until that point that I decided I wanted the book to be published. Once I made that choice, I dove headfirst into submissions.
Within six months, I received my first offer. I got the phone call, did my research, accepted the offer, and the publisher put my contract in the mail. In the time between my accepting the offer and the contract showing up in my mailbox, the publisher shut down. I was a little devastated, but I picked myself up and started submitting again.
About a month later, I received another publishing offer from an even better press! I signed the contract, went through five rounds of edits, prepared a blog tour, and was assigned an amazing cover artist. We even had a cover reveal party with the book cover on a cake. Then, six weeks before The Tethering was set to be released, I got an email. The publisher was shutting down. Not only that, no one had been getting paid. The owner of the press had taken all the money and vanished. In fact, it seemed the owner of the press had never existed.
Some unknown person had created a fake identity and published hundreds of books, faked sales numbers and vanished. The FBI had to get involved with the fraud investigation. To the best of my knowledge, none of the authors ever received the royalties they were owed.
As I sat there reading through the email that basically exploded my author dreams, I felt numb. I called my mother, who famously said, “This is a catastrophe.” Thanks, Mom. I didn’t know that.
Then I called an author friend who pointed me to a small press she’d been working with. I sent them The Tethering files, and they sent me an offer for publication.
This time, the book was actually published! And in the meantime, I signed a contract with another press for my Girl of Glass series.
But after the second book in The Tethering series was published, my third publisher closed. Didn’t even really close, just sort of lost interest in publishing books. It was a disappointing kind of betrayal, which, in a way, felt worse than the FBI getting involved.
But I had to move on.
The Girl of Glass books were being released, and I ended up getting a new offer from the largest publishing house I had ever worked with. They contracted three of my series, including (drumroll please) The Tethering.
For a while, it seemed like I was finally living the author dream. I had an agent and, with all the planned sequels, sixteen books under contract! Everything was beautiful.
Until December 2018.
Just after Christmas, I received an email from the publisher of Girl of Glass. They were going to have to shut down. The publishing industry is hard, and honestly the owner of the press handled things in the best way possible. It was heartbreaking, but I got all my rights back and royalties owed, so it’s impossible to be angry. Not every small business can succeed. It’s sad, but a truth we have to accept.
After speaking to my agent, I decided to self-publish Girl of Glass and complete the series on my own. I’d never really considered Indie Publishing, but it was where life had pushed me. So, I embraced the challenge.
About a week after I found out about the Girl of Glass publisher, I received word that the other press I’d been working with was crumbling. Not quite to the FBI level, but it was bad. Really bad.
I had to pull all three contracted series from that press, just to get out of the disaster zone while there was still hope for my books’ survival.
And just like that, I had no books out. No contracts. Nothing.
I don’t want to lie to you. This is the part of the story where I cried a lot, binged a stupid amount of ice cream and drank a lot of wine. It was not a pretty picture.
But once my eyes de-swelled from the tear fest, I realized I had two choices: I could shelve all the books I had written and start fresh, or I could take control and publish all my books myself.
In 2019, I published fourteen novels, three novellas, and two complete collections. I went from getting a bit of money from my books sometimes (if the publishers were honest enough to pay me) to making actual income from my years of hard work.
In 2020, I have eight books scheduled for release, and I could not be happier. I am finally in control of my books, my business, and my artistic life.
The funny part, I don’t feel like my five years of traditional publishing disasters were a waste of time. If I hadn’t worked with those editors, bloggers, and designers, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge I needed to be a successful Indie Author. I wouldn’t have met the authors who have become irreplaceable peers and resources.
Would I recommend Indie publishing? Absolutely. Would I recommend traditional publishing? If that’s what makes you happy.
But most of all, remember that there is no one end point to the author journey. There is no one path to success.
No matter how many times it seems like your publishing career is a catastrophe, you just have to keep moving forward. There are readers who want your books. You just have to be brave enough to find a way to get the material into their hands.
PRE-ORDER MEGAN'S LATEST BOOK RIGHT... HERE!
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