One Manuscript’s Journey to Publication

When A School for Sorcery, my first published novel, published by Tor in 2002, did so very well, I felt that I really had it made. I’d been writing for some time and had accumulated several unpublished manuscripts, but now I had an agent, a good publisher, and an excellent editor, and all was going well. SchoolSmall2 I sold, via my agent, the next two books in the Arucadi series (A Perilous Power and When the Beast Ravens) to Tor for good advances. A School for Sorcery got good reviews and even appeared on the New York Library System’s list of best books for the teen age. The novel earned out its advance, and I started receiving royalties. All was rosy and life was good.

I had written all three of those Arucadi books long before they were actually published. My editor, who was handling Tor’s YA line of fantasy and science fiction books at that time, kept asking for a novel with younger characters than the first three Arucadi books had. So to please him, I wrote the fourth Arucadi book with a twelve-year-old (but almost thirteen) protagonist named Bryte. Each of the Arucadi books has a story complete in that volume, but characters carry over, and there is one plot thread that runs through all the Arucadi novels. But a reader can pick up any one of the books and read a complete story—no cliff-hanger endings. So the fourth novel, which I titled Bryte’s Ascent, is essentially Bryte’s story. But it also continues the adventures of Lina and Oryon, who, after their graduation from the Lesley Simonton School for the Magically Gifted, have traveled to Arucadi’s capital city, the tiered city of Tirbat, Oryon hoping to find work that will further his ambition and Lina hoping to increase her magical abilities. Bryte’s encounter with Lina and Oryon changes all their lives. I submitted the completed manuscript to my Tor editor, who liked it and was, I think, pleased that I had taken his advice about having a younger protagonist.

And then things fell apart. First, my editor moved to Canada to marry his Canadian fiancée. He remained a Tor editor but was no longer the editor in charge of the Starscape line. I received the word that Tor would not be publishing Bryte’s Ascent. The new editor of the Starscape books explained that because books two and three of the series had not done as well as the first book, the sales staff advised against publication of the fourth book. So Bryte’s Ascent went back to my agent, who understandably could not sell it as the fourth book of a series published by another publisher. The manuscript went up into my attic.

I’m sure that the sales figures for books two and three of the Arucadi series were available for other prospective publishers to see. In any case, other manuscripts that I sent to my agent were turned down by numerous publishers, and although I continued writing, I became quite discouraged as from 2005 to 2010 nothing sold. I did not consider self-publishing, and I was only beginning to look into small presses. Then a friend told me about a company that was seeking beta testers for a program that would facilitate the self-publishing of manuscripts of any length and genre. The beta testers would get their novel published in all e-book formats at no cost in exchange for going through the publication process, pointing out any snags and difficulties, and enabling them to improve their process. Figuring I had nothing to lose, and with e-books becoming popular, I saw a way of getting Bryte’s Ascent into circulation in e-book form, I applied and was accepted. Bryte’s Ascent became, after a rather tortuous process, an e-book.

Shortly thereafter I left my agent, who I’m sure had grown frustrated at his inability to sell the manuscripts I sent him, for an agent who agreed to handle my newly completed urban fantasy novel. That agent tried for a year to find a publisher for that novel without success, and since our agreement was limited to a year, she dropped me when that time expired. So I was without an agent and without a publisher. It was then that I turned to the small press.

I found a publisher for my Terrano Trilogy — Shadow of a Demon, The Gift of the Trinde Tree, and Touch of Death. Shadow coverDouble Dragon Publishing has published those books both as e-books and as trade paperbacks, and I have been pleased by the books’ appearance in both formats. I turned to another small press, WiDo Publishing, to publish my stand-alone fantasy, Seduction of the Scepter. Seduction of the ScepterAnd back to Double Dragon for the fantasy novel Mistress of the Wind, the first of a duology titled Arucadi: The Beginning. Mistress of the Wind takes place long before the three books published by Tor as well as Bryte’s Ascent. It reveals the identity and provenance of the Power-Giver mentioned throughout those books. cover artIt will soon be followed by Bringers of Magic, a novel that in one sense sets the stage for the later Arucadi books.

In the meantime, while these books were being published, I discovered that Bryte’s Ascent was no longer available from Amazon for the Kindle, although it was still listed on the Barnes and Noble site. I never have been able to discover why Amazon dropped it. However, the Amazon representatives I queried about it encouraged me to republish it via Kindle Direct Publishing for the e-book and then turn to CreateSpace for a paperback edition. After some consideration I have done that. It was easy, it cost very little (nothing for the e-book publication and the grand sum of $25.00 for the paperback for enhanced distribution, an optional service) and was far easier than it had been to get Bryte’s Ascent ready for e-publication the first time. So self-publishing proved painless, and I am pleased with the results. Now that Bryte’s Ascent is available, I can continue the Arucadi series as I have wanted to do. Whether I’ll find a major publisher for the coming volumes or will continue to self-publish I don’t know. Time and book sales will tell.

I will continue to seek an agent and a major publisher for the urban fantasy I referred to earlier and for other completed manuscripts. But I am pleased with the results of my first venture into self-publishing and will not hesitate to go that route if all else fails. Self-publishing has lost the stigma it had formerly and become respectable and just another route an author can take.

It is still true that many self-published books are poorly edited and some are badly written, but there are also independently published works that are every bit as good and as professional in appearance and content as those put out by major publishers. I hope that readers will find that Bryte’s Ascent fits into that latter category. I’m sure my readers will let me know, and as always I welcome their comments.
BrytesAscent_final Find Bryte’s Ascent on Amazon.
You can also find full information about each of my published books and excerpts from each on my website,

About E. Rose Sabin

Fantasy and science fiction author.
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