So yes. I have three books coming out from Fireside Fiction starting in October.

What I am about to tell you will not help you at all in getting your own books published. Really, it won’t. What I hope you’ll take away from this is how perseverance, and cultivating relationships with all kinds of people is how you will eventually succeed. Nothing happens overnight. I have been poking and prodding at this world and these characters since… I don’t know 1998? I thought I was ready to publish stuff back then, but I’m very glad I didn’t. Today seems like the end of the race to the me of 1998, but the me of today realizes this is only a new beginning. So here’s the story of how sold these books:

I don’t remember how I ended up talking to Brian White. I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter and I’m pretty sure I was giving him a raft of shit about something he was loudly protesting in a way that encourages people to engage with him in an amusing yet vaguely antagonistic way. That’s kind of his thing as @talkwordy. The longer I followed him on Twitter the more I realized there’s a lot more to him than just “that shouty guy on Twitter.”

I’m about to absolutely ruin his rep, but hopefully he’ll forgive me. You see the point where I started to respect him as an editor was one night where he was actively drunk tweeting with a large group of people and generally carousing and carrying on with a great deal of participation from many fronts. This had gone on for some time before I realized that all of his “drunk” tweets had the same errors. Consistent misspellings, consistent transposing of words, same highly irregular punctuation mistakes… and given his night job as a newspaper copyeditor I messaged him to ask, “Are you using a drunk tweet style guide?” He replied that he’d sobered up hours ago but everyone was having so much fun giving him crap he’d decided to keep the virtual party going.

That’s when I realized he not only had a similar sense of humor, he had the editing chops I would need a lifetime to develop (my punctuation tastes are… unconventional—not to mention inconsistent and wrong) so I approached Brian as a freelance editor for a project I planned to self-publish, but I wanted him to read it first because it was a little weird. I didn’t want him to commit to what would be a long term project if he hated the story. We talked a little back and forth about it and after a few weeks he asked if I was serious about self-publishing it.  I said yes, cause I didn’t think I could sell it (for a variety of reasons). He clarified that he meant could he possibly read it with the option to publish it through Fireside if he liked it. I could still refuse and he’d still work with me as an editor for self-pub. Considering I had NO IDEA that Fireside was even moving into books at all… I was kind of shocked. We talked a little bit about what that would mean and I said sure, he could have the option to offer on it.

On the evening of July 16, 2014 I sent him the first three chapters of what would become TAKE ON ME. Later that evening he asked for chapters 4-6, and the next morning he had me send everything I had.  After he read it, he asked if I was willing to let Fireside publish it.

I said yes. I want more people to read my stories. My personal reach is very small. I don’t have a big built-in audience. Fireside might not have a huge reach, but it has a much bigger one than I do and is generally well-respected in areas I care about. Fireside is taking the financial risk here instead of me, but I get an equal share of the income. Could I make more self-publishing it? Maybe? I don’t think so. I’m a very small fish in a very small pond and this works out to be a win-win for me at this particular junction with this particular story.

I can’t put a price on having Fireside as a partner in this process either. I know how much I would have paid Brian to edit it for self-pub but I got so much more than editing as a Fireside author. Brian introduced me to Andrea Phillips whose amazing book Revision launched Fireside’s foray into books. She and I have had each other to lean on and commiserate with during the publishing process in addition to boundless publisher support.

I also became a slush reader for the magazine during this process and have gotten to champion stories I loved to publication (though not all the stories I championed made the final cut). There’s a whole family of people behind Fireside who love fiction that doesn’t neatly fit in any particular box and making sure you get to read it.  I feel very privileged to be a part of that fiction-loving family (and finally able to talk about it).