I have good news: Last night I received a contract for my next book, tentatively titled Deliver Us from Me-Ville. I'm pretty excited about it; I've had some of these ideas biding their time in my brain for years, so now I get a chance to free up some mental space. I've started writing but currently I'm mostly gathering material.
Here's the touchy part: I signed with a publisher other than the publisher of my first book. Not only that, I sent it to this different publisher before I showed it to the publisher of my first book. Not only that, I'm employed by the publisher of my first book. In a sense, I suppose, I've signed with the enemy.
Now let's be honest: enemy is a bit, shall we say, grandiose a term for the relationship of Cook (my new publisher) and InterVarsity Press (my [hopefully still] employer). Both are known in the industry as Christian publishers, which means that even if they were enemies, they'd be commanded by their Lord to love each other, which by default sort of makes them friends. Still, it's a little awkward for me, and potentially awkward for all my friends at both publishers.
Nevertheless, I feel good about the decision. I actually worked for Cook for about six days in the 1990s, after they bought the company I was working for but before they moved said company across the country. They gave me as nice a severance as an entry-level goofball with no marketable skills could hope to get, so I was fine with it. But if any healing needed to begin, with the offer of this book contract it's certainly begun.
I met the book publisher at Cook while he was an agent, and I always liked the book ideas he sent me and enjoyed him immensely the one time we met. My initial plan was to ask him to represent me, but then he stopped agenting and started publishing, so I had to regroup, to rethink.
In the interim I met the woman who would ultimately become my editor and found her delightful. At the same time I caught up with a former intern of mine who now worked for Cook; she was delightful too. That's three for three delightful people at one company: pretty good odds. So I swallowed my fear and sent my friend the former agent my proposal, and he sent it on to my new friend the delightful editor, who sent me several delightful e-mails that culminated in "Sure, we'll publish it." Delightful!
Meanwhile, I was thinking, Hey, wait a minute. Don't I work for a publisher? Didn't they publish my first book and give me my first blog? Don't they deposit money directly into my bank account every month? Aren't they delightful too?
And they are, don't get me wrong. Some of my most meaningful conversations and significant friendships over the past ten years have been with my coworkers. And they did great work on my first book and were willing to take a risk on an unknown author in the first place anyway. So yes, they're delightful.
Meanwhile, all the authors I have been inviting to write books for my employers are saying things like "Say, I notice you published a book with InterVarsity Press. Do you have plans to write any more books?"
"Yes, actually. Yes I do."
"So that must be delightful, getting to publish another book with your employer, where so many of your significant friendships and conversations have been forged over lo these many years."
"Well, actually, my next book isn't going to be with InterVarsity Press. It's going to be with Cook."
"What?!? Why?!? Do you hate your employer?!? Are they not delightful?!? Should I be talking with Cook instead of with you?!?"
And here's where my rationale sounds thin but, to my ears, makes perfect sense:
"It's not IVP; it's me."
Check back for part two to get my rationale.