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Friday, January 22, 2010

My first novel...

Many of you follow me via facebook, and are thus aware that today I received the preliminary contract for my first novel, which is entitled Broken Gods. I'm currently negotiating with the publisher on terms--I have asked for two changes to be made, to which they were amicable, and the contract otherwise is in the hands of my lawyer.

Since I posted the status update, I've gotten a ton of congratulatory notes, a few requests for more information (waves at Christina), and even a few words of well-intentioned warning from the fine folks at the Creative Writing Collective on RPGNet. I'll address the words of warning, first.

The publisher is Reliquary Press. They have a website and a Facebook page. When I posted on RPGNet, a few concerned posters pointed me towards a thread on AbsoluteWrite, a website that serves as a sort of watchdog for scam and vanity publishers. The thread in question was begun in September, right when Reliquary went live, and is essentially wrong. Reliquary could use a revamp of their website (and they are aware of this) but they are neither a scam nor a vanity publisher. They are new, and they are small, but attempting to grow. They currently sell through Amazon and direct orders but are working hard to get distribution to the book trade up and running.

How do I know all this? Simple, and this ties into how I got hooked up with them in the first place: networking.

Never underestimate the power of networking, if you are an aspiring writer, artist, musician, whatever. One of the partners in Reliquary is Bill Coffin, a luminary in the roleplaying game industry. He currently works as the publisher for Risk Management magazine, but like many of us would rather be working in fiction. Running a traditional publishing company has been something of a dream of his for awhile, and finally he and his partner took their knowledge of publishing and information technology, and a bit of money, and founded Reliquary in September.

Again, I know this because I know Bill. Bill and I became acquainted during the brief period in which I freelanced for Palladium Books. He was a staffer at Palladium at the time, and was there to advise me on structuring my manuscript for them. Later, after he and C.J. Carella parted ways with Palladium, I had posted some incorrect information regarding the nature of their departure on RPGNet. The two of them corrected my mistake, and I e-mailed both to apologize. Both were perfect gentlemen and very professional and told me not to worry about it. Bill and I began a correspondence, and when I was let go of Palladium, Bill and I (and a couple other former writers) discovered our stories had strikingly similar details.

Bill became something of a mentor to me, a great workshopper for my writing, and eventually, a friend. This summer we met after nine years or so of correspondence, at Gen Con. It was there he told me about Reliquary, and told me he would be looking to me for manuscripts.

I've watched Reliquary as he set it up, and been privy to some of his and his partner's business decisions, and offered unsolicited thoughts and advice that Bill, ever the gentleman, was happy to hear.

I am not comfortable speaking for Reliquary as far as details go--that would be unprofessional--but they have several other novelists contracted at the moment, and a decent sized slush pile given their newness. Suffice it to say, however, that while AbsoluteWrite is generally an excellent resource, in this case they are wrong and the information there is several months old. You will also note that one of the posters there claims that Bill likely infringed upon Palladium's copyright by "stealing" the Rifts rules system for a game he wrote while he was employed at Palladium, which was work for hire for Palladium, and was mandated that it use the same rules as all of Palladium's other games. Had that poster bothered to look at the publisher of the two games he mentions (Bill's and Rifts, respectively) rather than slinging mud, he would've seen that they were both published by Palladium, and that Kevin Siembieda, the publisher/owner of Palladium, had a hand in both.

In short, Reliquary is neither a scam nor a vanity publisher--they don't charge money. All the cash flows in the direction of the writer, as it should. They offer an unusual royalty scheme because they are trying a different model (let's face it--the traditional publishing model is notoriously difficult and subject as much to luck as it is skill) and want to champion new writers who they feel deserve to be published. They don't accept anyone and everyone. They read submissions and like any legitimate publisher if they believe in what they get, they offer a contract. I'm looking to sign with them because I've seen Bill's work ethic and I believe in what he's attempting to do. I believe that he can be a successful publisher, and hope that in some small way my work becomes popular enough that I can help him in that venture. I'm not going in blind, either--friend or no, my lawyer is looking at the contract, and Reliquary is aware of this and encouraged me to do so.

So, that answers the question of how I got hooked up with Reliquary and hopefully puts to rest some concerns people who Google and find that unfortunate thread may have.

Now as to the book itself. Here is the draft (which will likely be tightened up as we get closer to publication) of my sales/back cover blurb:

Emotionally scarred 18-year-old Sabrina Matthews is offered the chance to become the living avatar of her Goddess, and jumps at the chance despite a depraved cost.

While Sabrina builds a dark cult for her mistress, slaughtering “sinners” to feed her new power, amnesiac Jacob Crane is visited by a dark stranger who offers power over fortune itself if Jacob agrees to oppose Sabrina. He accepts, despite the need to feed on living souls to use his own power, and the two are set against each other in a game of cat and mouse that could spell Armageddon if not contained.

Jaded homicide detective Frank Hill and his ex-lover forensic psychologist Lexie Miller are hot on the trail of what they believe to be a gruesome and elusive serial killer, when a third faction of strangers offers them the power to bring a stop to the killing.

The battle comes to an explosive conclusion as one by one, the humans transform from pawns to major players. Who can save the city and the world? Will it be Sabrina, Jacob, Frank, or Lexie, or will they all remain forever…

Broken Gods

So is this the be-all, end-all? No, though it could be if Reliquary manages to realize their potential. For now, however, it's a huge step in the right direction.


  1. this makes me so incredible happy. i am just so thrilled for you, i could dance in the street.

  2. It all sounds good! I say take the ball and run with it.

  3. Dude, you SO better plug this at Triple Oak Leaf!!!!

  4. Congrats on your novel! I'm also a contracted author by Reliquary Press and I've absolutely loved the experience of working with Bill & Derrick. I can't wait to see how the company grows in the coming year!


  5. Hi, Jess! I didn't see your comment before this. Always good to meet a fellow author. I've known Bill for many years, now--he's a top notch guy.

  6. Im thinking about submitting my novel to them.


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