2014: Some (Honest) Publishing Numbers, and (Almost) Throwing in the Towel

This post by Kameron Hurley originally appeared on her site on 12/31/14. Note that it contains strong language.

About this time last year, GOD’S WAR, which had been out in the UK for a solid seven months, had sold just 300 copies there, and every single major publishing house had passed on THE MIRROR EMPIRE, the epic fantasy novel I thought was the most marketable thing I’d ever written.

I was, to be blunt, pretty fucking devastated.

A lot of people think that once you publish a book, that’s it – you go on publishing books. The publishing world opens its arms to you and welcomes every book like a precious squealing babe. The reality is that publishing your first book is when the real work starts. All that time you spent leveling up your craft, on dealing with rejection, on editing and revision: that was just a warm up for the crushing reality of life day-in, day-out as a published author.

In early January of this year, I was getting ready to shelve THE MIRROR EMPIRE and take a break from writing for  a while, and come up with something somebody wanted to read. I knew MIRROR EMPIRE was a good book, which was frustrating: it was just a good book nobody wanted to buy at the moment. I needed to wait for the market to shift. The plan was I’d just hold onto it until somebody at some house got a new job – new editors have different opinions. Maybe somebody would buy it some day. In the meantime, I had no project idea that was more marketable than this one, so… I was going to need to take some time to recover from my disappointment and write something new. Another slog of a year, I figured, with no new book coming out, again.

Like a lot of Night Shade Books debut authors caught up in the spiral of near-bankruptcy and eventual sale, my work had suffered from declining sales, especially the third book. RAPTURE had sold low, just 2,000 copies, only about 350 of which actually showed up on Bookscan. Low sales like that give editors on the fence about a project a good reason to pass. The performance of that third book was not helping MIRROR EMPIRE.


Read the full post on Kameron Hurley’s site.


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