By Guest Blogger Elizabeth Becka
They say the path to true love does not run smooth.
Well, screw true love. I say the path to publication does not run smooth. Not in my case nor, I suspect, in anyone’s. I am not complaining. I’ve been lucky, and I’ve succeeded beyond any reasonable expectation, so I’m not complaining. But since you ask, this is how it went:
In January 2004 I got a two-book deal with Hyperion to publish Trace Evidence and a second book. The hardback was to be published in August 2005, and the paperback of Trace Evidence and the second hardback would be published in August 2006. Everything was peachy. I had already spent eight months in revisions on with my agent and then got a seven page, single-spaced letter with revisions from my editor. That was still okay. The only thing I felt unhappy about was having to rewrite my killer and give him a whole new backstory, because neither my agent nor my editor liked scenes from the killer’s point of view. I thought he was a lot more realistic and creepy in my original version, though perhaps not woven into the story as tightly.
Anyway, while I was doing that I was also writing the sequel. I assumed that the publisher would want something different, that perhaps America had had enough of serial killers killing beautiful young woman. Foolish mortal! Publishers like serial killers. Serial killers sell. And the book had problems as well, I’m not denying that. My complicated plot involved a child murder and an old high school rival of my heroine’s and for whatever reason it wasn’t working. I walked around with this bundle of worry at the pit of my stomach for a year.
The publisher agreed, and said it wouldn’t do. I would have to sit down and write another. At that point I was so bloody sick of the thing that I did not protest. I had been forming some ideas for the third book, which, coincidentally, involved a serial killer, so I simply moved number three up to number two and put the original number two on a shelf.
Unfortunately this delayed the whole production schedule, so that the book that should have come out in August 2006 would not appear until February 2008. The paperback of Trace Evidence was not produced until December 2007. I had the uncomfortable job of trying to keep myself in the public eye for a year and a half.
This whole thing soured Hyperion on me. They looked at my third book, Takeover (actually the fourth, but who’s counting?) and passed on it. My agent had seen this coming and warned me. This time it was not a problem with the book—which she loved—but the numbers from Trace Evidence. It had sold nearly half its print run, which I did not think was too shabby for a new author, but apparently it is because in shopping Takeover to publishers it was important to keep them from realizing that it was written by the same person who wrote Trace Evidence. I had to change my name and keep any identifying details out of my bio.
But the story has a happy ending. My agent sold Takeover in a two-book deal to William Morrow, so now I have a great publisher and a great editor.
And there’s a chance—just a tiny, fragile, puff of a chance—that the rejected second book could be picked up by a foreign publisher. Tastes vary…a lot. That foreign publisher didn’t want Takeover. And the publisher that loves Takeover didn’t want Trace Evidence. You just never know.
Unknown Means is about to be released. According to the reviews so far, it’s even better than Trace Evidence, and yet I’m constantly debating with myself how much work a lazy person like me wants to put in to promoting a name that will disappear after this book. Plus, I still have the day job. I work twelve-hour shifts, plus overtime. But then, of course, I realize that my troubles are not Unknown Mean’s fault and pledge to redouble my efforts and do the best I can by it…and try to keep my fan base during the transition from this persona to the next.
So I’m not complaining. I’m happy…delirious, actually.
But also exhausted.
Elizabeth Becka is the author of TRACE EVIDENCE and UNKNOWN MEANS. Visit her website at www.ElizabethBecka.com.