Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pros and Cons of The Option Book

I've mentioned it before, but the second book in my two-book deal with HarperTeen is what they call an "option book." Basically, this means that Harper wants another book from me—except they haven't decided what, exactly, that book will be.

It's an interesting middle ground to stand on, honestly. It's not quite like having a series, where you know the next book you'll be writing is a sequel. And it's not like having just one book with your editor and pitching new ones in hopes that they'll buy. Instead, it's, "Yes, you have another book under contract, but we'll figure it out later."

So far, having an option book has been...weirdly cool. Most of the time I think of it as a good thing. I like that HarperTeen had enough faith in me to want another book, even if they didn't know for sure what kind of book. To me, it says they see something in me as a writer. That feels awesome. Seriously awesome. With awesome sprinkles.

I also really like not being tied down to a sequel for the time being. I've seen, through many friends, how hard a sequel can be. It's kinda cool that I don't necessarily have to worry about "topping" book one or falling into the "sequel curse." And I still have a little liberty to write what I'd like to, instead of being obligated to work on the same story whether I want to or not. I like that freedom—I feel like I do my best work under those circumstances.

But there are some things that are pretty scary about an option book, too. I mean, Harper doesn't HAVE TO take any book I write, you know? If you aren't familiar with options, it's still a little like being on sub, but with one editor/house as your audience. I give them a book as a possible option, and it's completely within their right to say, "No, this isn't quite what we're looking for from you."

Yup, my book can still be rejected.

Granted, I get to submit over and over to my heart's content (or until they like what I offer), but that whole possibility of rejection is still there. I'm starting to realize that it'll never go away. Putting your work out there never stops being scary, even when you have an agent and an editor and a book deal.

In the end, I'm totally happy to have an option book, especially because I love my editor and am excited to keep working with her. But like most things in publishing, it's not a perfect scenario. It comes with its own personalized bits of stress, different from other scenarios, but still valid. The more I get used to being "Future Published Author" me, the more I realize that no scenario is ideal. They all come with different pros and cons, and you deal with them as best you can. It's always better to focus on the good things about your personal path, instead of looking at what others got.

So yay option book! Even if you scare me sometimes.

21 comments:

  1. This is fascinating. I never considered all the different paths on the journey.

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  2. Ah, so that's how it works...
    Thanks for the explanation. It definitely sounds terrifying, but amazing cool (and, of course, topped with awesome sprinkles). Good luck pounding out book 2 =)

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  3. So question: if Harper pass on a book you submit to them, are you free to submit it to other houses? I realise you probably wouldn't do that, but I'm curious.

    And YAY! for the option book!

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  4. Jade, you CAN submit to other houses after a pass, but there is a waiting period, depending on your contract. I think that varies a lot based on each contract, but it's not uncommon to see authors go with different houses for different types of books.

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  5. That's really interesting! I never knew what an optioned book was--now I do! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. :)

    Also, good luck with the new book!

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  6. An option book sounds pretty awesome, although I can see what about it freaks you out.

    I'm just thrilled that you have a deal. :-D

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  7. Is Transparency a stand-alone then? Can't wait to read it next year.

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  8. *Transparent. I'm an idiot. That's why you should read before you hit comment, folks. So you don't look like a straight fool.:)

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  9. My publisher signed me for the first book and any others are on an individual book consideration. I like that setup because it's an open door for me but I'm under no pressure to produce more books.
    I did produce one more though. And looks like I'll write yet another after that.

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  10. Never had heard of this before. I learn something new everyday about publishing :)

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  11. Ah yes, the ever present option book cloud. I'm planning on getting a self-trunked ms into shape for mine. Nice to know there's hope for it!

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  12. Hmm... Will House of Ivy and Sorrow maybe get to see the light? Or do you have a whole new one in mind to write? I imagine the possibilities are exciting! I just can't wait for Transparent.

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  13. Wow... I'm glad to know that. I thinks that's weirdly interesting. A very tenterhook place to be. I just read an interesting interview with Maria Modugno of Harper Collins and got an urge to submit something. Then I remembered my contract says Simon and Schuster gets to see anything first. Which is wonderful... I think. However I submitted a piece to Allyn in October and still haven't heard anything. How do you go about getting approval for your next story?

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  14. Thanks for this look. It's so tempting to get into this space where the magical publishing grass is always a little greener over there. But it's green here too. With brown spots. Just like every where else.

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  15. Very interesting, Natalie. Thanks for that knowledge.

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  16. Leigh, so far Transparent is a standalone. I don't know if it'll always be that way, but that's the story right now:)

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  17. Christina M, I don't know what will be chosen for the option book, but I have two possibilities so far. Hopefully I'll know more in the coming months!

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  18. The Pen and Ink Blog, approval for the option is fairly similar to submitting a novel to an editor. You write something (doesn't have to be fully complete, though), and then you submit it through your agent. Your editor reads and then determines if that might be the direction they want to go. At least that's as much as I know so far, hehe.

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  19. I'm so excited to hear what happens with your options. :) Keep us updated!

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  20. Helpful post, Natalie! I'd always wondered what "option" meant (in the context of a book deal). So glad you have a great option ahead... :D Very cool. Happy day-
    Lynne

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  21. Very cool, thanks for the explanation. Personally, I love the idea of an option book over that of a sequel. An option is like a little present - a gift to explore that other idea that's been floating around in your brain.
    Writers who have a whole series plotted out in their heads kind of freak me out. I just don't think like that in my story telling. I like it all to be wrapped up nice and tight in one little package. But I LOVE reading a series.
    Go figure.

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