Why Evolved Publishing is the only publishing house for me

All right, I know many of you have been waiting on this post for quite some time, so I’ll do my best to make it as informative as possible. Please feel free to leave me questions in the comment section, and I’ll be sure to answer them promptly.

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My publishing journey has been a bumpy one. However, those bumps have been so full of joy and amazing learning experiences that I really can’t complain.

When I first decided to gingerly stick a toe into the publishing pond, I thought the traditional route was the only option—not just the only option worth considering, but, truly, the only option.

I queried agent after agent with the manuscript that would eventually become Torn Together. In turn, I received rejection after rejection and almost quit writing altogether as I wallowed in my misery.

But I just couldn’t quit something I was born to do, so I decided to take a different tack and try to get an agent to pursue me rather than the other way around (which clearly wasn’t working).

Somehow my haughty-as-high-tide plan worked. An agent saw a tweet to one of my blog articles and approached me. After some reworking, he accepted me as an author. Cool beans!

At the time, I had just begun the first draft of Farsighted and had high hopes for it. My agent was interested, but I said, “NO WAY! I’m self-publishing this one.” And, of course, that went into our contract.

So I self-published Farsighted while continuing to rework Torn Together with the help of my agent. And, let me tell you, self-publishing was going great! I got a whole bunch of lovely reviews from bloggers and even won some literary awards, which attracted both agents and small publishers.

One small press, in particular, was so interested in signing the Farsighted series, they begged and pleaded and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I tentatively agreed to review a contract. And while I waited for them to draft something that fit the terms we’d verbally agreed upon, I ceased my marketing efforts for Farsighted.

Big mistake!

They left me hanging for a month and came back with the most insulting document you could ever imagine. I’m not being a diva here. This contract was terrible. A non-compete clause could force me to close Novel Publicity, and another strange clause required me to do marketing for their company for 20 hours a week and basically 25 cents an hour.

I WAS FURIOUS!

Several good friends talked me through this rage, and one of them was Kimberly Kinrade. Kimberly told me how her publishing house would never do something like that, and that I shouldn’t let my anger at this one house destroy my option of all small publishers.

Then she tried to convince me to bring Farsighted to Evolved Publishing, which at the time was less than half a year old. After all, it cross-promos great with her Forbidden trilogy.

I listened to her politely with zero intention of following through. I even had a long chat with the high and mighty Lane Diamond, the daddy of all Evolved Publishing.

Then I had a stroke of genius—what if I kept Torn Together for my agent, kept Farsighted for me, and tested the waters at Evolved Publishing with my children’s book manuscript, Honey the Hero?

I reasoned this would give me the perfect combination of traditional, self, and small press publishing, which would be great knowledge to have for my role as president of Novel Publicity. Then, I could pick whichever venue suited me best and pursue that path going forward.

Fast forward to the day of Honey the Hero’s release, which was also the day my first husband decided to ask for a divorce. Hooray for great timing!

This depressing turn of events brought my mind back to Torn Together, because, you see, Torn Together is based on the love story I had with my now ex. I couldn’t continue to work on it with my agent while he shopped it out to publishers and then wait another 2-3 years for the novel to finally hit bookstands. No way. I had to get that bug bear published and out of my heart.

And this determination to get it out there became the most important thing in the world.

Luckily, my agent and I had become good friends, and he understood my situation, graciously agreeing to let me out of my contract. Double-luckily for me, Evolved was interested in publishing it—but I still wouldn’t let them anywhere near my Farsighted series.

The Bird Brain Books continued to release every couple months, and I started getting to know the other authors and the staff at Evolved Publishing. I grew particularly fond of my editors, Lane Diamond and Stevie Mikayne.

Sometime around August, my entire perception changed.

Am I one of the lucky ones who not only has the know-how but also the financial resources to self-publish? Because of Novel Publicity, yes, I am.

Did that mean I HAD to self-publish? No, it most certainly did not.

Out of faithfulness to the family I had formed at Evolved Publishing and respect for their sky-high editorial standards, I decided to let go of my tight hold on Farsighted and allow Evolved the rights to the series, which included publishing newly edited editions of Farsighted and Open Heart.

Another factor in my decision pertained to me serving the role as Marketing Director for Evolved and a belief that not stacking all my eggs into that pretty little basket would present a divided front and possibly lead to a morale issue with the team and many questions from outsiders as to why EP is good enough to publish some, but not all, of my books.

Was I nervous about handing my closely guarded project over to someone else? A bit, I’ll confess.

But, in the end, I trusted my editors, trusted the business acumen of both Lane Diamond and DT Conklin, and just decided to leap.

How has it worked out?

Well, this is embarrassing to admit, but sales weren’t doing so hot for Farsighted and Open Heart in the summer. I’m sure most authors noticed a plummet in their sales, too, as the summer grew hotter. I didn’t have high expectations for my relaunch of these two novels in late November. I mean, Farsighted had already been out there for over a year. My social media networks were drained.

I should have had more faith in Evolved. Since republishing my sales have grown 10 times what they were before. Mind you, 10 times close to nothing is still not a lot, but it makes a big difference to me, and, as we know, the market is still correcting from the whole KDP Select plus terrible economy situation.

Evolved is highly selective about the projects they take on—so selective, in fact, that sometimes I still can’t believe they chose me. And, although the house is still relatively new, it’s rapidly developing a good reputation with both readers and authors.

Add to that the spirit of camaraderie among the authors, editors, artists, and staff, and you’ve built something really special.

Now it’s not just me and Farsighted against the world, it’s me, Farsighted, my EP family, and a growing base of readers who trust the EP name.

Whenever I question whether I’m crazy to pursue this writing life, feel generally down-spirited, or have a great new marketing idea that I just have to discuss with someone, my family is there to hear me out. Lane and I have had many a lengthy conversation about the industry, my writing, business, just everything. And, when it comes right down to it, he’s a huge part of the reason that Evolved works for me. This is a stand-up guy who risked everything—and, I mean, everything—to start a company he believed in. He lives on pennies, because he gives his all to making EP work, and, you know what, it does!

It’s because of the people, the quality, and the zeal that Evolved is the only publishing house that will ever lay a hand on my work. I’m serious.

Come at me, Random House. Come at me, Simon & Schuster. There’s nothing you can offer me that will make me turn my back on the relationships I’ve formed at Evolved.

Because, in the end, the publishing business shouldn’t just be about business—it’s also got to have heart.

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Why did I finally decide to write this post today? It’s because, after a three-month hiatus, Evolved has finally opened to author submissions once again. I can’t wait to welcome a whole new batch of talented authors into the family we’ve built!

Mrs. Storm

Writing everything from Sweet Romance to Children's Books to Nonfiction, Melissa loves books, birds, and bonbons--in that order. She has an advanced degree that she never uses.

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