Alethea Kontis — The Year Without A Book

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 Alethea Kontis pic 11-13 SmallOn January 11th, I had a birthday. (It was wonderful and surreal, thank you!)

Less than a week earlier, my editor at Harcourt made it known to me that Book Three in the Woodcutter Sisters Series–now called Dearest–would be releasing on February 3, 2015. It seems that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has only two publishing “seasons.” They call these seasons “Spring” and “Fall.” So when I was told that Dearest would be releasing in “Fall of 2014,” what HMH actually meant was Winter of 2015.

My deepest apologies to all the fans I’ve misled for over a year.

Sneaky stuff, this is. Very, very sneaky and mind-bending stuff. For me, the toughest thing to wrap my brain around has been the realization that between the discovery of Dearest’s release date and the books actual release, Enchanted will have been distributed to roughly 50,000 people on World Book Night, and I will have had not one, but TWO birthdays.

For a writer who depends on her novels as steady income, this is a particularly tough pill to swallow. Even worse, in this day and age of instant gratification, no author wants their fans–new or established–to forget about them.

So, what is an author to do? My goal this year was Content, Content, Content. I planned to write and sell as much as humanly possible. Even my horoscope told me I was going to have an incredibly successful year. And yet…now I have nothing with which to sustain my fans. 

Or do I?

I know for sure that I have one Big Task on my plate this year: Writing Book Four. But though I will be traveling and making appearances, I will not have to set aside a month or two completely dedicated to the physical and online touring and promotion of a novel. Instantly, my year just got a few months longer…MORE TIME TO PRODUCE. But produce what?

Beyond the main novel series, most authors have one or two (or a hundred) other projects on the backburner: things they would love to get around to if they had the time, but they never have the time. Only now, I do.

Backburner Project #1: The Princess Trilogy

Back in 2008, Apex Book Company published a book of my personal essays called Beauty & Dynamite. It was a lovely little book that was compared to Eat, Pray, Love and had some critical acclaim, but quickly went out of print (as small press titles are wont to do). It was unfortunate timing, as a friend had just unearthed a secret trove of essays referred to in B&D as “The Lost Blogs,” and I had just assembled the essays and cover art for a sequel called Murphy’s Girl. The price for the used book on Amazon shot up to some ridiculous price over $5000, and I had a friend post a “Review” there, asking people not to pay that sort of money and promising that I would find a way to reprint the title.

This year, that promise can be fulfilled. In the manner of the Cornetto Trilogy I am teaming up with Alliteration Ink to release all three books in the Princess Alethea Cycle: Beauty & Dynamite (revised and updated), Murphy’s Girl, and Rise of the Princess. Anticipated pub date of Beauty & Dynamite is April 1 2014, with the other two volumes following before the end of the year.

Backburner Project #2: The Fairy Tale Rants

Last Fall (like, in the actual Fall), I started posting weekly videos called “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants.” In these videos, I pick one of the classic fairy tales (Grimm or Andersen or Lang) and discuss the plot, along with the tale’s strengths & weaknesses. A bit of personal life can’t help but sneak into these 4-7minute shorts, so I may embrace that and start posting more on the video/vlog front. It takes about as much time for me to write and polish a good essay as it does to shoot and edit a video…and my demographic is watching YouTube. They may as well be watching ME, right?

You can check out my videos and subscribe to my channel here .

Backburner Project #3: The Golden Band

I started writing my very first novel at the age of 11, as a daily journaling assignment for English Class, because I didn’t care for my teacher, and I didn’t want her to know anything about my real life.  Unlike many authors in my field, I’m actually quite proud of the story, titled The Golden Band. I posted all seven chapters of it for free on Wattpad last year (You can read it here .)

By the time I got seven chapters done, I had reached high school, and decided it was time to rewrite the story. This time it was a pretty decent novel’s worth of writing, which I am also transcribing onto Wattpad (very slowly) here . 

I stopped writing the high school edition right at the climax. I never wrote the last chapter because I knew the book was seriously flawed, but I didn’t think I was old enough to finish it properly. The goal of this project is that if the High School Edition becomes popular enough, I will rewrite The Golden Band one final time, for realsies, and finish it.

Backburner Project #4: The Tales of Arilland

Even with all these other lovely (and free!) things to feed upon, I would still feel remiss not giving my fans something from the world of the fairy tale novels they have come to love. Luckily, I have some tricks up my sleeve there as well.

Enchanted as a novel was originally over 100K words, and was cut down to a little under 75K. In those deleted scenes was quite a bit about Prince Rumbold’s background, his relationship to his evil fairy godmother, what happened to his mother, and what happened to him before he turned into a frog. I am working on piecing all of this together into a readable short story called “The Cursed Prince.” Not sure how it will be available once it’s done, but it WILL be available in 2014, and that’s what matters.

HERO last cover A similar situation happened in Hero–I wrote an entire chapter of what happened to Trix after Saturday threw the mirror and called the ocean. My editor felt that it distracted from the pace and focus of the book (and rightly so). Unfortunately, that left an entire adventure untold, the first chapter of which was sitting in a “Deleted Scenes” file.

I will be turning this adventure into a novella called Trixter. It, too, will be released in 2014…by whatever means I can get my hands on.

There are a few other things on the list too, but these are the items that I’ve prioritized for 2014. I mean…I might have a whole year, but it’s not like I have all the time in the world or anything. I think a year is enough. A year in which I refuse to disappoint my fans…or disappoint myself.

Let’s just hope I’m not regretting any of these Birthday Resolutions come NEXT January 11th.

wwdd_full-cover Alethea

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Bio: New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, including The Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her YA fairy tale novel,Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012, was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013, and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.You can find Princess Alethea online at: www.aletheakontis.com

YouTube (featuring “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants”) 
YouTube 2  (new rant, featuring “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants”)

Books: Hero (second in the Woodcutter Sisters series) and Wild & Wishful, Dark & Dreaming (short story collection), both released on October 2013. Upcoming: Revised & Extended edition of Beauty & Dynamite (out of print essay collection) in April, and Book Three of Woodcutter Sisters in Fall 2014.

 

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5 comments to Alethea Kontis — The Year Without A Book

  • Alethea, So good to have you back. Did I tell you Happy Birthday yet? If not HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Belatedly.

    I think one of the hardest things for writers (new and experienced) in the traditional marketplace to accept is the way commercial publishers structure releases, and how hard it is write to that schedule and structure. I have pulled out a lot of hair over years trying to deal with this. It’s maddening. But the smart writers (like you) find ways to make things work, doing marathon writing sessions to get faster-than-normal deadlines met and starting new projects to fill in when the books have a later-than-expected release date.

    Also, those personal writing deadlines, crashing headlong into family/health issues are a real problem. Been there, done that.
    Hugs!

  • quillet

    Happy Birthday! And thank you for the insights into a writer’s year … or plans for a year, anyway. Hope it all leads to monster success!

  • sagablessed

    Sorry I am so late replying. Happy being born day!!
    Plans. I need to hammer some out.
    Many good wishes for your success!!

  • It’s funny…turns out I have a friend with a “Fall” release scheduled this year…and her book is coming out in July. All the time she had blocked off for possible touring is now ALL THE WRONG TIME.

    I get that it’s a big deal to be on the “Fall” schedule now, but when that encompasses everything from July-March, it’s a bit of a misnomer, isn’t it?

    And why are they not being a *tad* more specific with their authors? After almost two decades in “the business,” I shouldn’t still have to be learning this stuff the hard way. Am I right?

  • LinHutton

    I’m very much someone who has yet to experience this problem with publishers, but I have to say it’s chilling stuff to read. I’ve come across this sort of problem elsewhere when reading about Scott Lynch and others, and for someone who has yet to find a publisher it does make me wonder whether it’s worth it. I know there’s a certain stigma about self-publishing, but one of the up-sides of it is that you don’t run into the *year without a book* syndrome, because you have total control.

    I also think that such publishers show a considerable lack of respect for the readers who pay good money for books. After all, those readers are paying the publishers every bit as much as they’re paying an author (and in money terms a huge amount more!). So why do publishers think it’s okay to mislead authors and their fans? Even if only in financial terms, surely it’s better to get a book out there and selling a.s.a.p.? And for proven authors like yourself and the other Magical Words writers, who publishers know will come up with more sellable stories in the interim, they give the impression that they’re happy not selling as much as possible! Very strange. In other branches of retail this would be seen as very poor business practice indeed – would Walmart not relelase a new range of cookies onto the shelf just because it didn’t suit their promo layout? I think not!