For over a year now there has been an elephant in this room (if we imagine, for a moment, my blog as a physical space). Have you noticed that new copies of Petty Magic are no longer available online? That the novel was never issued in paperback?
These are minor disappointments in the cosmic scheme of things—a writer’s career knows peaks and troughs like any other line of work—but when I reflect on the fact that I am 32 years old and already out of print, I can’t help thinking of the Cybermen on Doctor Who. Right before they blast you into oblivion, they announce in booming robotic monotone, YOU WILL BE DELETED!
I laugh when I draw this comparison, because of course I’d much rather be out of print than blasted into oblivion. No matter what happens, I feel blessed to be alive and healthy and living my joy (especially when horrible things happen). I can’t stake my happiness on factors beyond my control—like, say, the decision of some anonymous number cruncher in a Manhattan skyscraper. To do so would be the very definition of insanity, as I wrote on my friend Nova’s blog last year. If I hadn’t had this pinchy, seemingly-humiliating, sometimes-frustrating-as-hell experience, I would not be the person I am now, and I like this version of myself better than any I’ve ever been.
That said, I wish we writers could be more candid with each other (and with our readers) about the challenges we face. When I found out Petty Magic would not be published in paperback, and again when the book went out of print, I felt embarrassed and ashamed, as if I could have prevented it by doing more on social media or being more assertive with my publicist. I didn’t feel that I could speak honestly about my experience for several reasons: because friends’ careers seemed to be going well and I didn’t want to rain on anyone else’s parade; fear of my frankness being perceived as “sour grapes”; or an ego-driven impulse to pretend things were going well for me work-wise so that no one would think of me as a failure.
But as I told a friend who is in a similarly difficult situation right now, no one will think you’re a failure, and if they do, they’re no friend of yours anyway. When it comes to art, the only failure is in never having tried. I believe that with my whole heart.
So where does this leave me now? Goodness, there’s a lot to tell you! As I mentioned recently, over the past couple of years I’ve written two novels: a children’s novel and an adult novel I initially thought would be YA since the protagonist is sixteen. This novel, Bones & All, was the project I was revising at Hawthornden this past January, and we put it through a couple more rounds before my agent submitted it to Crown as my option project. We fully expected they’d decline to publish it simply because my first two books did not make them any money. When everyone who loves your work is let go, all that’s left is “the bottom line.” (When I first started as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins almost 11 years ago, I was shocked when a jaded young colleague said, “You think you’re part of something noble here, but at the end of the day, it’s just another book—a product like anything else.”)
But I have good news for you. I’ve been given a new home and a fresh start, and I will share all the details with you very soon.
As for Petty Magic? There’s an audiobook in the works through ACX (short for Audiobook Creation Exchange), which means you’ll be able to purchase it through Audible or iTunes starting sometime in July. I’ve found a marvelous narrator—or rather, she found me!—and I’m really excited to hear her bring Eve and the beldames’ world to life. Unfortunately, in order to get the rights back to produce the audiobook, Crown had to take the ebook off the market. We’re investigating some options for digital reissue, I have hopes of a second chance in paperback once Bones & All becomes a solid seller, and in the meantime the hardcover is still available on Amazon at a bargain price.
Thank you so, so much for all your enthusiasm and support over the past six years. I can’t express how grateful I am for you faithful readers and friends!