Turning Down a Contract by Kristina M. Serrano

Turning Down a Contract by Kristina M. Serrano

I bring to you a guest blogger named Kristina M. Serrano, who so graciously decided to take my offer up on what it’s like to have to turn down a contract despite high hopes and expectations. Enjoy!

It’s so, so hard. It really is. But sometimes, it’s necessary. You can envision it: book signings, interviews, sharing a story from your heart and soul with the world. The power is in your hands. All you have to do is sign.
And yet, you don’t.

Almost two weeks ago, I was offered a contract for SLOW ECHOES by a small publisher, but after seeking counsel from several knowledgeable sources in the writing/publishing industry and thinking long and hard, I turned it down.
The days it took me to make my decision were torturous. “Published” and “contract” rang through my thoughts, taunting, seducing. I’d waited years for those words, and they were finally here. I could finally act on that detailed marketing plan I’d whipped up ages ago. I could tell all of my friends and family I was finally an author, a novelist, not just aspiring. I could share my characters with the world. Almost. Almost… A signature away…

And then a polite e-mail of thanks and decline.

Aside from feeling like I’d flushed an accomplished dream down the toilet, the hardest part about walking away from the contract was how sweet the publisher/editor was and how strongly the publisher/editor felt about my book.
So why did I turn it down? Well, one, different publishers prefer different policies in their contracts, and I felt there were too many clauses that didn’t appeal to me to negotiate. Also, while the publisher’s in-person marketing plan was awesome (attending multiple events promoting their books throughout the year), it wasn’t coupled with a strong online presence, which is important to me and the failure or success of sales for any book.

Basically, it just wasn’t the right fit, to me, for SLOW ECHOES. If anything, this experience taught me that the publishing industry is subjective in more ways than one. If agents and editors reject fantastic books because “they’re just not the right fit,” authors should feel comfortable rejecting a contract from an accomplished publisher that is “just not the right fit.”
My faith has gotten me this far, and I’m confident it will carry me even further as I reassess my writing and publishing goals and continue the querying process.

Another important thing this has taught me: DON’T RUSH. I have been rushing since I was eighteen, and I’m twenty-three now, almost twenty-four. A lot of non-writers think books are born overnight and, however innocently, prod you with “you’re STILL not published?” It’s hard, I know (believe me), but take a deep breath, don’t be afraid to make difficult decisions, do what’s best for you as a writer and your precious book(s), and be proud of yourself! Publishing is definitely not a race against the clock. It’s a waiting game of patience and the right timing.

A successful author I know told me to enjoy the writing process before publication, because that’s when things REALLY get hectic. And that’s what I plan to do. Read great books. Have a ball writing. Dream of landing the right agent and/or publisher and attending my first book signing while researching and querying.
But, my, I’m getting ahead of myself again. Patience, dear child. Patience.

Kristina M. Serrano is an aspiring YA fantasy and paranormal romance novelist, singer, homeschool/college graduate, and ex cowgirl who has been thrown five times. To read more about her and her writing, visit her website (http://kristinamserrano.wix.com/author) where you can also find links to her Twitter and Facebook pages.

Writerly Insecurities Never Fade

Writerly Insecurities Never Fade

Licensed for CC use

Many writers dream for years about the elusive book contract. They think, ‘If I had a book contract, everything would be so much better. I could breathe easy because I’d have a contract, an assurance of publication.’ But it doesn’t work that way at all, especially when you realize the work doesn’t end when your book is bound and put in digital stores or bookstores.

The insecurities have just begun.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe easy, even with a contract. It’s still a dream come true, and I’m still so super happy. But now I know my book needs to sell well, and I don’t want it to sell well just for the money. I want it to sell well because I poured every part of myself into this book, and by gosh darn it I am going to strive to make sure a lot of people read it. My new dream is to now become a bestseller, someone known for writing emotional stories with inspiring characters. I will keep writing to achieve that dream, and I will keep writing after.

Yet I have my insecurities. No matter how much pre-sale marketing I do, there is still a chance my book may not sell well. The market is so fickle, so unpredictable. For example, my job is a marketing trainee. Currently we’re giving away a Fiat 500. We use these giveaways to lure in potential homeowners who may be interested in our products. I try to set appointments with them, and if they demo, I get six dollars. If they sell, I get .5% (which is a good amount considering the price of our products). Some days I can get 5 appointments because people are just really interested in signing up for the Fiat. Some days I make 0 because people have such a nasty attitude toward this tiny car. Not even constant persistence can change a 0 to a 1. See how fickle the market can be?

I know the best way to sell your book is to make sure it’s the best darn book possible, but even with that, there is still a chance it may not sell well, and this does scare me to a certain degree. I want to sell well. I want my book to be remembered. I don’t want it to disappear into oblivion in the digitalverse. I also know the best thing I can do is to keep writing, but then there are some writers who have book after book published and they still can’t crack below a 500,000 Amazon ranking. I don’t want to be that. Not by a long shot.

So just because you have that contract and your book is on its way to being published doesn’t mean you can relax. You have to get that book selling and you have to keep writing. I also sometimes think, “What if this is the only book I can do right? What if all my other books fail? I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.” Even so, I press beyond the insecurities with the attitude that I am going to make something happen because I am me, The Dancing Writer, and I never give up. Giving up is not how I got to where I am today.

In other news, don’t forget the double book giveaway I am doing on my blog! You must be following me and you must comment on the blog post to be entered. You can find the post here.

The Dancing Writer’s Pointe Shoes and Awards

The Dancing Writer’s Pointe Shoes and Awards

I love my Capezio Glisse.

This is a compilation of all my best posts, and then at the end, I will be giving away three awards to three different bloggers for each one!

What Depression Feels Like for a Writer Like Me

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

My Defense of Self-Publishing

The Maddening Choice of Publication

The Different Ways to Outline a Novel

This Is My Surprise: I Have a Publisher!

Blogging Tips for Fellow Writers

Inner Turmoil Equals My Best Ideas

The Misuse of Twitter

The Madness of Writer’s Block

Now for the awards!

This goes to Legends of Windmere by Charles Yallowitz

The parasite guy

And Random Acts of Writing!







Next award!

Dorian Dawes

disregard the prologue

And When I Became An Author










Last award!



And Missing Zero!

Follow all these awesome blogs and keep an eye out on their posts! I very much appreciate them! I don’t have time to comment on all of them, but rest assured these are quality bloggers.

The Maddening Choice of Publication

The Maddening Choice of Publication

images (2)
Which route should you choose?

As writers, we have so many choices nowadays as to how we want to go about publication. With the advent of the e-reader, our choices have broadened, and some of us are left wondering what direction we should go. Should we go traditional, indie, or should we self-publish? I’m going to break it down by using personality traits to explain each route. Hopefully these trait-explained routes will make it easier for you to choose which direction you want to go.

Let’s start with traditional. The traditional route is for those who crave affirmation by experts, first from the agent, then from the publisher they sign up with. They feel that by overcoming these barriers, they’ve proven they do have what it takes to make it in the publication field. They also do not mind giving over control to the experts because, well, they’re experts for a reason. These people do not mind negotiating with editors on changes to be made to the book, and they do not mind having little control over the cover because they themselves may not have the prowess to create a book cover. I mean, many writers aren’t cover designers, after all. These people also may find marketing daunting and want professional help from a publicist. Or, if they don’t have a publicist, they want to be told how to market because, frankly, marketing is both a daunting and painful process. They also want their books in the bookstores and want physical copies of their books they can do book signings with.  These people want big names behind them because big names are in bookstore, where their books will be much easier to search for than online. They also want advances, sure money, and don’t want to take too many risks.

Now indie. Indie people crave affirmation by experts as well, but they also want some power in the process. They want their copyrights, so that way should their books not do so well, they can at least self-publish to give their books a second chance. They also have books that are more niche and likely wouldn’t fit with a big publisher, but their books still have a place in the market. While they may not get advances, they want bigger royalties for each book, for their hard-earned work. They may not want to dive into marketing alone, but want to have some control with a safety net. They want to work on a team with other writers to help market each other’s work. They want an editor’s help, but they also want some say in the changes made to the book. They fear the big publishing brands due to corporatism and want to support smaller houses because they believe with indie, it is not all about the money.

Lastly, self-publishing. These people want total control, over their book, brand, marketing, editing, cover designing, and all aspects of the publication process. With freelance editors, they can choose what changes to keep and which to ignore. They can design their own covers or hire a cover designer with a design in mind. They want full control of marketing because they have the money and the know-how. They don’t want anyone to take their money, save for the websites selling their work. They do not need affirmation from experts, but readers. They do not care about the romantic aspects of publication. They only care that their stories are out there being read by people who enjoy what they write–while making money to earn more than what they spent on self-publication. These people are masters of their own domain and do not want anyone intruding upon their territory, save for those they invite.

I suppose I'm a master of my own domain, but I don't mind guests.
I suppose I’m a master of my own domain, but I don’t mind guests.

Hopefully this helps you decide which route you want to go. I already have my route down. What about you?

The Oldest Piece of Writing: The Haunted City (Reader Participation Encouraged)

The Oldest Piece of Writing: The Haunted City (Reader Participation Encouraged)

The Haunted City, by my fourth grade self.
The Haunted City, by my fourth grade self.

I was obsessed with Sailor Moon and Harry Potter back when I was in the fourth grade–as was just about any kid. They heavily influenced my writing. Since I wasn’t much of a reader, I really only had Harry Potter as an influence. I wasn’t wild about books for my grade level, which were, well, fourth grade level books. You couldn’t read outside your grade level at my school, even if you had a high reading level, which I naturally did. It wasn’t until fifth grade did I fall in love with reading because *GASP!* I had one teacher who had middle grade AND young adult. Books my grade level just didn’t challenge me.

But because I only had Harry Potter and Sailor Moon as my current influences, I wrote a series called The Dark Cat series, which spanned like 30 some odd installations. Needless to say it was all bad, but I was just beginning to flex my writerly muscles with no intentions of pursuing publication with it. Luckily, in fifth grade I wrote my first novel, influenced by all the new material I was reading. It was called “The Ancient Book.” I don’t think I have any copies, but my writing did improve a lot and I began taking it more seriously.

And as you can tell with the picture on the left, I did all my own illustrations. I hate drawing now, but I do love photography and painting.

In any case, I’m going to torture you all with an excerpt from “The Haunted City,” just so I can show you how I got my start as a writer. Here it is:

We had to get ready to go to a haunted city. We flew on our wands. Selsies finally had her own wand.  We arrived at dawn. Electrical things were broken apart. The place had broken windows and such. A black cat crossed our path. We were relieved that it was Tarina. “Dark…cat…power!” me and Selsies said. We were all in our dark form.

The sky was all shady and black. “Watch out!” yelled Michelle. An evil mayor came behind us and almost killed us. I saw two shadows. “I am Dark Forest!” said Sary. “I am Dark Raven!” said Marietta. “You never told me you were witches,” Amber said. “We thought you were not a witch,” they said. “Forest poison,” said Sary. It poisoned the mayor. “Dark cat,” said Marietta. “Right!” she said. “Spurow, protector of Maize. Dark scream. Three elements destroy!” Amber called out.

There are so many things wrong with this that make me laugh. For one thing, the dialogue isn’t standing on its own (because, really, they don’t teach this type of stuff well in school anymore. My brother actually taught me). The story is also clearly first person, but I keep referring to myself in the third person (Amber). I do nothing but tell. Since the dialogue is all clustered together, it’s difficult to even tell what’s going on. Also, the fact that it’s clearly a Sailor Moon rip-off doesn’t help. And an evil mayor…the whole thing makes no sense period.

But it’s cool to look where I started and then to see where I’ve come today.  This story I posted a few days ago on this blog is a perfect example of how far my writing has come. Of course, I’ve improved even more since this story, but that is a surprise I’m saving for Tuesday.

I would love it if you guys posted examples of some of your earliest pieces of writing in the comments below. It’s just great to see where we all started and where we’re all now.