Monday, March 25, 2013

Choosing the Right Publisher

Recently I was offered a publishing contract for my middle-grade book, THE DREAM KEEPER, which I turned down. Many have asked the reasons why and I’d thought I’d share that here. I was absolutely thrilled when I got the offer. I couldn’t wait to shout it from the rooftops that finally someone (besides me, my wife, my sister, and my freelance editor) took interest in this awesome book. I had tried for over a year to find the right agent. When that yielded no results I went to small publishers. 

My last attempts got me two publishers interested—one that quickly offered a contract after three days of review. I carefully read over the contract and highlighted all the portions that I didn’t feel comfortable with. After tons of amazing advice from successful authors (as a note: do this!) I made my decision. I was going with a fairly new publisher because certain members of their team really made me feel like they loved my book. I thought that if they loved it as much as me—this was the team to be with. Throughout the process of reviewing the contract, once again, warning bells started to sound in my head. And I was reminded once again of the quote I have hanging next to my computer screen: “Never, ever, sacrifice what you want the most, for what you want most
at the moment” –James Owen. Then I prayed.

I had prayed before I accepted the offer but I was so overwhelmed with voices in my head and the thrill of getting published I wasn’t listening properly. I remember the warning bells then and I am glad I listened later. It wasn’t that this publisher wouldn’t have done an awesome job. In fact I think they were enthusiastic and show great promise as a small publisher—but they weren’t for me. I had concerns about their distribution, something I had learned a lot about during my struggles in self-publishing my picture books. As an indie author I could do so much better with distribution then they presented. The bottom line was that I was sacrificing what I wanted most for what I wanted most at the moment

So I did one of the hardest things that I have ever done before. I declined the offer to be traditionally published. I took a moment to breathe. I am no further in getting this book traditionally published then when I set out on this journey a little over a year ago. But I have learned more in this process. I have made great strides as an author/illustrator. In the time I finished THE DREAM KEEPER I have released six picture books, planned two more, and two novels—one a sequel to The Dream Keeper book. One day my dreams will come true—I know this! I will see my books in the hands of readers and I will be making a living as an author/illustrator. That is my goal—that is what I want most.


  1. You are doing it Mikey. Just keep doing what you're doing. It will all work out.

  2. Way to follow your heart! I'm sure your novel will find a home that feels right to you! Good luck!

  3. I can't blame you. Shows a lot of maturity on your part.

  4. Mikey, I'm so glad you took the time to listen to your inner warnings rather than let the head-rush of excitement carry you away. Your warning is one all writers should take note of. It's not the actual offer of publication that's important, but the OVERALL PACKAGE. If something feels wrong, it probably IS wrong. And all writers need the right home for their work. You took the time to do your research, to read and re-read that contract, and above all you took the time to THINK. That's when those niggly little worries can surface, and tell you that something isn't quite right.
    I too am sure that The Dream Keeper, one way or another, will reach its target audience. It's too good not to! Until then, I will join you in praying that you find its true home.

  5. It is ALWAYS correct to listen to warning bells (and I'm reminding myself of this as I type for you.) :)

    Not long ago a friend shared this with me: God usually answers in one of 3 ways: 1)Yes, 2)No, or 3)I have something better in mind.

    I'm thinking number 3 is the winner here.:)

  6. Only you know what's right for your book. And, you really have accomplished so much along the way. Hang in there!

  7. You have to do what's right for you. Isn't James awesome? To be honest, I keep thinking of that quote as I consider whether I should keep working my day job. At my age, with retirement a few years away, it's hard.

  8. You are brave. You deserve a "Super Mikey" shirt!

  9. This is a very thoughtful post. I learned a great deal from it.

  10. Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement! No one makes it far in life with out the helping hand of those along the way. You all are amazing!


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