Award-winning sf/f author Will Shetterly sez,
A couple of years ago, I wrote Midnight Girl, a YA vampirish (as in,
not your classic vampires) novel just for the fun of writing a book
without an outline, something I haven't done since my first novel. It
became the story of Cat Medianoche, a girl who discovers on her
fourteenth birthday that both sides of her family are part of a war
that began long before recorded history. Each sees her as the key to
their victory. I sent it to an editor who wrote back, saying, "I don't
just love it, I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!! Cat is one of the most kick-ass
heroines I've ever come across. And talk about conflict and things at
stake! (I keep having to tell authors to beef up the conflict because
there's never enough.) First [spoiler deleted]. Then [spoiler
deleted]. And *then* she has to make an impossible choice between two
equally horrible fates. I love every single character in the book... I
couldn't put the manuscript down. I devoured it in one sitting.
Anyway, that's how much I love it."
Sounds like a sure sale, right? Alas, her boss didn't like it. So I
did a rewrite, sent it back, and the boss still didn't like it. So my
agent sent it out to the major YA publishers, and they all passed. The
ones who gave a reason said they thought the vampire fad was cresting.
My agent recently sent me this note: "I was on the phone today with
one of the editors at [Major Publishing House]. He loved Midnight
Girl, and went to bat for it. The word he used was "brilliant."
Unfortunately, powers that be felt otherwise. But at least you now
know that it did have an in-house fan. He's a young up-and-comer, so
I've made a note for future work of yours."
Since this book doesn't fit the demands of traditional publishing, I
decided to do what the cool kids do and release it in formats for free
or purchase, and I've made the book available through Lulu.
P.S. Creating the book didn't cost me a penny. I formatted the text
with OpenOffice and found cover art at Wikimedia that I manipulated
with the Gimp. Thank you, open source and Creative Commons!