September 10, 2014

a big announcement!

I have some big news today!

I am happy to announce that I have signed a three-book deal with Harper Voyager Impulse, the digital-first imprint of HarperCollins’ Science Fiction and Fantasy division!

As part of the contract, Harper Voyager Impulse will be republishing the first book in my steampunk series, The Clockwork Giant, and my associated novella, The Mechanical Theater, (tentatively titled), as well as publishing a sequel, with an option for a third novel.

This would be why, if you happened to notice, I removed my books from the market a couple of months ago and once again joined the ranks of the unpublished. I wanted so badly to tell everyone what was going on (especially those of you who asked!), but I had to keep everything hush-hush until the contract was finalized. Well, after months of negotiations and contract revisions, the contract has been signed, and I’ve been given the go-ahead to announce.

Now, assuming that you are all as surprised as I was when I got the offer, you probably want to know how this happened. So, flash back to 2012. Harper Voyager hosted an open call for submissions of unsolicited manuscripts, even allowing previously self-published books. Their plan was to sign 12 authors to launch their new digital-first imprint in 2013. So, naturally, I submitted The Clockwork Giant for consideration, on the off-chance that I would be accepted, and then I promptly forgot about it. The original window for response was the following January, so when I didn’t hear anything, I assumed that my book had been passed over, and I went on my merry way with a half-hearted shrug.

What I didn’t know was that they received over 4500 manuscripts in that two-week period, and due to the alarming number of submissions, they would have to extend their respond-by date to who-knows when. Not only that, but they promised to respond to every single submission, whether they made an offer on the manuscript or not.

I did not know of this. I was blissfully unaware that The Clockwork Giant was still under consideration, even as the remaining submissions with Harper Voyager dwindled.

So, when, on a typically ordinary Tuesday afternoon in May, an email notification popped up on my tablet with the words “Harper Voyager Impulse offer for THE CLOCKWORK GIANT”… I was, for a moment, confused. I think I read the subject like five or six times in the breadth of a second before confirming that yes, it actually did say that, though I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I thought that maybe an email had gone astray and landed in my inbox by accident. Someone else named Brooke Johnson must have written a book titled The Clockwork Giant and given the publishers my email address by mistake, because no way would I get an offer from a major publisher for my already self-published novel.

Then I read the email.

And I read it again.

And there it was: an offer for The Clockwork Giant and a sequel. But not only that, interest in my novella as well. From HarperCollins. A major publisher. My book. Publishing contract. What. All because I submitted my novel during their open submissions contest back in 2012.

My brain could only register a big ! at this point.

Rather than stare at the email for the next thirty minutes while my brain tried to catch up, I got up, walked into the living room where my husband was sitting in his recliner, and interrupting whatever it was he was doing, I handed him the tablet with the email pulled up and said (rather elegantly, if I might add), “So, um, this.”

He might have asked me something at this point, probably to clarify why I was handing him my tablet, but considering my brain was still trying to process things, I was unable to articulate anything remotely coherent as a response, so I just shrugged—twice—and gestured to the tablet, waiting for him to read the email.

He read it and looked up at me. “Is this for real?”

Apparently, I shrug when I’m in shock.

But the fact that he read the email and read the same thing that I did—book offer!—the reality of it started to click into place, and excitement replaced my shock and disbelief, followed quickly by trepidation, lots of enthusiastic swearing, and just a little bit of dancing.

It was real—is real. I got a book offer from Harper Voyager, and after months of negotiations, I now have a signed contract… with a major publisher… something I didn’t think I would accomplish until much later in my writing career.

The goal has always been to sign with a major publisher. Self-publishing was only the beginning. I had plans to grow an audience with my self-published material and eventually approach publishers once I was successful, dividing my work between traditional and indie publishing so that I could reap the benefits of being a hybrid author—wide reach and high reward—and eventually make a living from my writing.

And now I find myself with a foot in the trad-pub door so much sooner than I anticipated.

It’s exciting, and while I don’t know how this agreement will pan out, for now, I’m thrilled at the prospect of what I might achieve with the help of a major publisher. My goal has always been to get books into reader’s hands, and it’s my hope that publishing with Harper Voyager will help me accomplish that. That’s why I accepted the deal. It felt like the right decision, and hopefully, with Harper Voyager, my books will be able to find the audience that I couldn’t seem to reach on my own.

It’s a new venture—both exhilarating and terrifying—but I’m excited to see where it leads.

The Clockwork Giant is expected to release from Harper Voyager Impulse early next year, with The Mechanical Theater to follow. The release date for the sequel is yet undecided but should also be sometime next year. Titles and release dates are subject to change, but I’ll definitely keep everyone updated if they do.

For more about the launch of Harper Voyager Impulse, you can read the press release here and the official announcement from Harper Voyager Books here.

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