Today was a crummy day. Yesterday was a crummy day, too, because I was privy to some information that didn't hit the airwaves until this morning:
Strange Chemistry is shutting its doors.
Yep, you read that right. Effective immediately, my imprint will no longer be in the publishing business. (In case you missed the press release, you can read it here.)
To say I am saddened by this news would be an understatement. I feel absolutely deflated, and my heart goes out to every single person--author and staff member--who was affected by this decision.
ESSENCE--which slipped out of the gates barely two weeks ago--will be the last novel Strange Chemistry ever publishes.
I have to admit I am not 100% surprised by this news. Four weeks before my debut, my team broke the news to me that my sequel had been cancelled and ESSENCE would only be available as an eBook. I didn't realize the enormity of the issue at the time (and naturally took the news personally), but today, every other outstanding Strange Chemistry sequel or trilogy has been cancelled, and the rest of the summer and fall debut authors will no longer see their work in print (under the Strange Chemistry name, anyway).
Why? This is a tough damn business, and it seems like Strange Chemistry was unable to carve out a niche in the young adult market.
This is NOT because Strange Chemistry doesn't care about its authors.
I have read some truly mean comments on Twitter today, and--while I appreciate everyone's outrage over our displacement--I do want to say publicly that my heart goes out to all the staff members who have worked so hard on my behalf. They have believed in me from Day One, and I know they are just as shocked and saddened and hurt by this as the rest of us.
Sometimes, life just slaps you in the face. And I know we are all feeling the burn of this today.
In some ways, I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to grieve about the loss of my sequel last month, and my first book was published two weeks ago. (It will continue to be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.) And although I have been working on my sequel for the past year or so, I never really intended ESSENCE to be part of a series, so I am comfortable with the way my story now ends.
Most of all, I have decided I will not let this setback define me.
Sure, I got angry and upset when I heard the news. And I felt cheated. I cried and sank to the floor and wondered if my steadfast determination to become an author was quickly turning into a delusion. I thought about the disappointments and failures I have experienced leading up to this moment, and I wondered what the point of this whole thing was anyway.
Publishing is a dying industry, right? And no matter what you write, people are going to say terrible things about it (and you) on Amazon and Goodreads. Why pour your guts into something if all it brings you is heartbreak?
But then I remembered something. (Actually, I didn't remember it. My amazing agent Hannah Bowman did. Have I mentioned how much I love her lately?)
I didn't get into writing because I wanted to get something from it. I got into writing because it's part of my heart, and I can't imagine my life without it.
So... In spite of all the setbacks, in spite of the uncertainty, and in spite of the fact that I'm not entirely certain what's going to happen to ESSENCE next... I'm not quitting.
I will continue to write, and I will continue to spin stories that make my soul come alive. I pray my family of Strange Chemistry authors does the same, because I truly believe the world needs to hear our stories. And selfishly, I want all of us to rise from these ashes like goddamn phoenixes. (Sorry for the curse word. Think it's justified.)
I will write an ESSENCE novella if my heart requires it, and I will move on to another project that may or may not be read by a single other human being. And you know what? I will be so damn proud of that book, regardless of its final outcome.
Just like I'm proud of ESSENCE, and just like I'm proud and thankful for the time I got to spend with my Strange Chemistry team. Caroline Lambe is one of the most amazing people I have encountered in a very, very long time, and Michael Underwood and Jonathan Richardson brighten my day every time I interact with them. When Amanda Rutter believed in me enough to offer me a contract and called ESSENCE "simply superb," it made my entire summer. And when Lee Harris went to bat for me and my cover art, I could have hugged him.
Today is a crummy day.
But it's not the last day.
You can count on that.