On my Guppies’ Sisters in Crime listserve, there’s been an interesting discussion about career choices, especially when it comes to choosing paths to publication. One of our members, Judy Penz Sheluk, has written a wonderful book on this subject, FINDING YOUR PATH TO PUBLICATION: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE.

Choices include: finding an agent and shooting for a major publishing house; traditionally publishing with a small press open to unagented submissions; self-publishing; and hybrid publishing, in which the author pays for services and collects royalties, and the publisher produces the finished book.

When I lost my agent over a dispute about submitting my young adult novel, LEISHA’S SONG, I had a big decision to make. Was I going to try to find another agent or choose a different path to publication?

I decided to submit to small presses, and my last three novels (and a forthcoming one) have been published by Melange Books. I’ve been very happy with my publisher, but I know my choice would not be for everyone. I’m never going to become a famous writer or make a ton of money. In addition, despite receiving several awards for my novels, I’ve struggled to get them into libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

But here’s the thing. I do get to share my work with others, and it’s still a thrill to publish a novel! Self-publishing would potentially be more lucrative, but I’d rather be writing than taking time to pull all the pieces together to put out a book, ranging from cover design to editing to formatting and more.

I also think some of my choices have been guided by my being an older writer. Realistically, I’m past the point where I feel I can take years to find an agent who may then take years to sell my books.

I did recently move out of my comfort zone to go with a hybrid publisher for my middle grade novel, an identity-swapping tale called THE BIG SWTICH: VARNEY AND CEDRIC. I love this book so much and was determined to get it out there. I’ll let you know how it goes!

All in all, I feel very lucky to be able to write and find homes for my work. A definite blessing in my life.




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