I had a good question in e-mail, and my reply has turned into this blog post:
One of this month’s reissues had a circuitous road from the story in my head to the published book. I wrote The You I Never Knew on spec, meaning I had no contract with a publisher to write the book. I just wanted to. Since I had a track record and a publisher, why would I do such a thing? A few reasons.
1. This was a new genre for me. I’d published historical romances and historical novels. This new story was contemporary women’s fiction. The early drafts had a literary voice (which I later toned down because it got in the way of the reader’s enjoyment). I didn’t expect my publisher to experiment with me. Mira was working to build my readership for the historical romances. Pulling a switch early in the game wasn’t playing fair.
2. When I try something new, I like to give it my best shot. It’s not enough to say “I can do that.” I have to do it to prove to myself and to the world that it’s possible. I can’t tell you how often I hear, “I’ve got a great idea for a book! It’s a surefire bestseller!” But of those ideas, how many actually turn into books? And if I hear this a lot, imagine how many times editors hear that line.
3. Selling a completed book rather than a partial manuscript minimizes the risk you’re asking a publisher to take. Why? Because on the balance sheet, a finished manuscript is an instant asset; it’s in the black. A partial is actually a liability–the publisher’s money is in the red until the author turns in the book. With a complete book, the publisher starts earning money almost immediately by licensing subsidiary rights to audio, foreign publishers, book clubs and other formats. Imagine buying an unfinished house from a builder you’ve never worked with before. You don’t get to live in the place for months and months, yet you keep having to pour money into it. Compared to buying a completed house, buying the partial feels risky.
So how did I end up selling this spanking-new, finished book to a publisher? (Again, this is of greater interest to writers rather than readers.) I’m off to pack to a trip to New York City, so I don’t have time to go on. Watch this space for the scoop tomorrow.