I risk being premature if I tell stories about all the rejections WITCHY EYE got before becoming a huge success, because, you know, the huge success part isn’t there yet. But I’m getting great feedback from early readers and reviewers, and selling out everywhere the book goes on sale early, so . . . I’ll take a chance.
In some big ways, WITCHY EYE is the song of my heart. It’s the book in which I really unwind and pull no punches, to tell a fantasy story like I think fantasy stories should be told. It’s also my love poem to the old, weird America that still lies underneath all the plastic and the glitz. And it was hard to get it published.
My first agent dropped me because of WITCHY EYE. Emailed me a Dear John note, copying his lawyer, saying he just didn’t have the time to deal with this huge book. Another agent who had offered to represent me and Emily (my wife) both emailed and withdrew her offer after I showed her WITCHY EYE. So when I got on board with WordFire Press, and had a clear shot to publish it, I thought about it long and hard . . .
And chose not to. WordFire is great, and they publish several of my things, but in my gut, I knew it was not the right home for the series. So I held on to it, and worked with my agent (Deborah Warren of East / West Literary) to come up with a strategy to sell it.
That strategy involved me personally meeting editors at WorldCon, leveraging the WordFire platform and my existing small-press books as well as the then-forthcoming Knopf book (THE KIDNAP PLOT). That is to say, the plan was to leverage to six years of labor I’d already put into building a network and community and an asset consisting of an existing body of speculative fiction work.
So at WorldCon 2015 (Sasquan), I reconnected with Toni Weisskopf of Baen, whom I’d first met at WorldCon 2011 (Renovation). And she was on the list of editors Deborah submitted to. I had in fact already sent Toni the manuscript, in February 2012, but now we had been in contact for a few years, and she’d seen me in action and heard more about me second-hand from people in my network.
And in February 2016 — four years after my first agent dumped me over the book, and four years after I first showed it to Toni — she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
So I am THRILLED to be with Baen. I am DELIGHTED that WITCHY EYE is getting the reviews and attention it’s getting so far, and I’m committed to continuing to push it.
And if you are carrying around a 200,000-word epic fantasy in your own soul, I have to tell you, tactically speaking, you are putting your feet on an uphill road. But my heart is with you; carry on!