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Writing Books/Are my books tainted?


Hi Cathy! I wrote two children's sci fi adventure novels in 2001 that were picked up by a publisher in Gatineau, Quebec who, unfortunately, nobody has ever heard of. I did my best to get out and plug the books through book store signings and school and library visits and we (I) sold over 1000 of them in less than a year. However, my publisher has since sort of gone out of business! He bit off more than he could chew and now, the quality of work he puts out is very shabby. He'll publish anything, just for the contract and to fill bookstore shelves but he cuts corners in editing and book printing quality and now has a poor reputation. I think my books are all sold out now and he can't afford to print more! I'm ashamed to tell people who I was published by. My contract with him is up and I've rewritten and re-titled the books to make them 100% mine again, but am I doomed now? Will any self-respecting new publisher touch these with a ten-foot-reach taser gun? Please allow me the benefit of your opinion. Thank you, much. :(

Hi, Kat!

Well my best advice would be to contact the publisher and get your rights back. If the publisher was indeed that small, it might well be that another publisher wouldn't consider the books "tainted" because they hadn't gotten the proper exposure---regardless of whether they'd been on the shelf. You might have to buy back the rights. That's pretty common. But it would be worth it to have them back and have the chance to edit them for another round to clean up things (the more you learn, the more you want to go back and change the old stuff! LOL!)

Then, once you have back the rights, simply query new agents and publishers with the work. If, and ONLY if, you get an acceptance, you can mention the previous publication of the book and ask what changes the agent/editor would recommend to set it apart from the earlier version. Again, we want to avoid any possibility of a "taint". Just consider it unpublished in the way you'd consider something you printed at Kinkos to be unpublished. :)

But get back the rights before you start. That's critical. Look through your contract and find out what their requirements are and don't query or anything else until AFTER you have it signed and in hand.

Hope that helps a little and feel free to ask any other questions that might come up.


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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