Why I Said No to the Contract

ambitionI’ve been sitting on this for a while. I’ve been trying to decide if I want to blog about it or not. I guess because I wasn’t sure what kind of feedback I’d get. But I pretty much figure I’m talking to myself here at the blog, so why not?

Back in July, before I headed off to RWA Nationals, I received a contract offer for my urban fantasy series. Not only did they want the first book, but they wanted to contact all five books in the series. Normally, I would be jumping with excitement with this news. But I was…apprehensive. Something in my gut was telling me NOT to sign the contract. I’m not sure why I felt that way about the contracts. I guess because I had a bigger vision for the series than with this publisher.

The publisher was by NO MEANS a bad publisher. In fact, I did my homework. I know several writers who write for them and love them. They’ve never had a problem with them. They’ve loved their editors. Why, then, was I hesitating? It should have been a no-brainer. The books would eventually all be in print.

But I felt like something was missing. I agonized over it for days. I made a list of pros and cons and still I wasn’t happy with the results. The more I thought about it, the more I talked myself into signing the contract.

So I signed.

And instantly regretted the decision. I was so unhappy with that, it made me miserable. I kept telling myself it would be fine. I’d be writing the series I’d always wanted to write.

But it wasn’t enough.

A dear writing friend cornered me at my last chapter meeting before Nationals and asked me what was up. She knew I was unhappy and wanted to help. We had along chat. I told her why I felt obligated to sign the contract.

“But you’re not happy with it,” she said.

No. I wasn’t.

When I explained to her why I wasn’t happy with it and the vision I had for those books, she said three words that changed my way of thinking.

“Can you terminate?”

Can you DO that? That’s what I instantly thought. Is that possible? I went back and read and read and read the contract to see what the verbiage was for termination. I wasn’t very far along in the process—no edits, no cover art, no nothing. But I was leaving for Nationals in three days and I didn’t know what to do.

My husband, in his infinite wisdom, said, “You need to do what Michelle wants to do and forget everyone else. You want to terminate, do it. Write the email and get it over with tomorrow.”

Tomorrow being Monday.

I wrote the email. It was painful but I knew it was something I had to do. I knew this publisher wasn’t where I wanted my books and I knew it wasn’t a good fit.

After several days, traveling to Nationals in San Antonio and lots of margaritas later, the publisher released me. It wasn’t pretty. But I had my books back.

It’s probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made regarding my writing career. I never like letting people down, especially when someone offers me a contract for books I haven’t written yet. I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to go and I was disappointed in myself for not listening to my gut when I knew it was right.

After getting home from Nationals, I sat down and did some really hard thinking about my writing career, my writing goals and my writing in general. My husband was right: it was time to do what Michelle wanted to do. And Michelle didn’t want to do what everyone else THOUGHT she should do.

So I ditched a lot of social media accounts. I’m focused on solely Facebook these days. I don’t tweet. I deleted my LinkedIn account and my Instagram account. I got off Triberr. My poor blog has been neglected (something I’m making a valiant effort to resurrect). I may be posting sporadically but I promise you I will try very hard to post something every week.

What am I doing with all this time? I’m writing or revising. I took a month to rewrite the entire first book of the urban fantasy series. I’m much happier with the final product. It’s definitely a book of which I’m proud.

Writing is my number one priority these days. Not social media. Not volunteering. It’s really hard for me to say no.

But I have my goals lined out. And I know where I want to go. Now, I just have to get there.

Wish me luck.

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.