My Last Letter from a NY Publisher
I know, I know, I’m behind on blogging. Things may be quiet around here, but trust me, there’s a flurry of activity going on behind the scenes.
I’m in the middle of a massive revision of FALCON ON THE WIND, my first published novel. I just did a light edit on HIS FORBIDDEN TOUCH, and FOREVER HIS will be up next. My formatter is scanning and proofing like crazy. I have a top artist working on a trio of gorgeous covers. And my new website designer is creating an all-new shellythacker.com that I think readers are going to love. So “Team Shelly” is crazy-busy right now.
But in the middle of all this madness, I got some amazing news today that I just had to share right away.
That WAHOOOOOO you heard this afternoon? It came from the direction of Minneapolis. When I went to the mailbox to get my People magazine, there was a skinny little envelope from Random House on top.
As I mentioned in my last post, I already own the rights to all seven of my Avon books. When I decided to launch this new indie adventure, I sent a letter to Random House to try and reclaim my two Dell books. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. My Dell books were lead titles, and fellow authors warned me that Random House is taking a tough stance on this issue. Writer Beware just reported that Random is in a bare-knuckled brawl with agents over backlist rights. Plus, they’re planning to launch RomanceAtRandom this summer to promote their romance novels directly to consumers.
All in all, I thought Random House would put up more of a fight than Avon did. Still, it was worth a shot, so I mailed my letter April 7. I figured it would take months to get a reply, if they bothered to reply at all.
But I’m holding in my hands right now a letter from an Executive VP at Random House, who has signed over all rights to my two Dell books. No fuss, no fighting, just a simple little one-paragraph letter saying the rights “are hereby reverted to you.”
I got tears in my eyes when I read those words. TIMELESS and INTO THE SUNSET are all mine. They’re two of my personal favorites, and it would have killed me to lose them.
But this letter makes it official: I now own 100% of my backlist. Every published novel I ever wrote belongs entirely to me. This is rather rare among traditionally published authors, so I’m astonished and overjoyed by my good fortune.
I’m free. Completely free. This will most likely be the last letter I ever receive from a New York publisher — because I’m done with New York. I no longer care what New York wants, what New York thinks, or what New York does. The traditional New York publishing industry broke my heart, kicked me in the teeth, and left me in a ditch.
If any man ever treated me that way, I’d get a restraining order.
But for years, I kept signing contracts and accepting this treatment as “normal.” Because there was no alternative.
Now there’s an alternative. Maybe going indie isn’t for everyone, but it fits me like a custom-knit sweater. Zero deadlines plus total creative control is an intoxicating combination. At this point, I have no idea if I’ll make one dime from this new career. I haven’t even uploaded my first backlist books yet.
All I know right now is that I wake up happy, every single day. I’m eager to get to the keyboard. I’m ready to tackle whatever challenges come my way. Writing hasn’t made me feel this good in years.
I’m not sure why Random House let me go so easily. My guess is that I’m a has-been with a capital “H” in their eyes. They probably thought, “Meh, she’s been out of print for years. Let her have her books back. She’ll never amount to anything.”
I hope to prove them wrong about that.
I certainly wouldn’t be the first.