…Ok, fine! There I go being hyperbolic again. It’s actually only been 12 years since I launched this business (aww, cute first post with a bad pun from New Years Day 2007!), but we all know that the internet moves fast. 12 in internet years might as well be 84, y’know?
Sometimes I have to remind myself that supposedly 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years, and fully 66% fail during the first decade. The fact that this party train is still chugging along after a dozen years is pretty remarkable… especially when you consider what a bloodbath it’s been in online publishing this year. (RIP, Rookie. You have the best final letter from the editor EVER.) That said, the Empire is beholden to the same shifting digital media situation as everyone else, and honestly this business only works because I’ve been running it LEAN SINCE 2015. The only exception to this rule is the tiny playground I allowed myself with my third book…
2019 is going to be an interesting year for the Empire. Here’s what’s up. It’s a lot of books, but some other stuff too!
Offbeat Bride, 3rd Edition (Seal Press, Fall 2019)
It’s an odd plot twist that when I went in to pitch Seal Press on my second book (more about that later…), I walked out of the meeting with them suggesting we produce a third edition of my first book. I wrote last year about why the Offbeat Bride book so desperately needed updating (the outdated references to CD-ROM wedding favors were cute… the outdated language around stuff like gender was less so) and it’s been a deeply informative process to rework the book.
Some of it’s been really great (I’m so stoked on all content we worked in about wedding planning when you’re dealing with a disability) and some of it’s been kinda tough (it’s not fun to revise a book about a wedding a few years after getting divorced), but mostly I’m just so excited that the ol’ girl is getting a deep breath of fresh air. New cover art! New interior design! Almost a third of the book has been rewritten!
It’s humbling that something I created in 2006 is still walking around out there (think about something YOU made in 2006 — would you want people still looking at it?!), but it’s so gratifying to know that my mid-’00s work still might still have some relevance for the legendary children getting married now. Massive thanks to Caroline, my longtime copyeditor, for helping me wrangle the project.
Current status: The completed manuscript was turned in last month and passed muster, I’m getting a few notes back in a couple weeks, and then it’s off to copyedit and design! I’m dying to see the new cover art. It should be on shelves this fall.
Shitshow to Afterglow: Putting Life Back Together When It All Falls Apart (Seal Press, Fall 2020)
This second book has been a long journey. I wrote last year about how I decided to see if I could skip the whole literary agent thing completely, and just represent myself. I decided to pitch the book directly to the publisher who already knows my sales history: Seal Press, the folks who published Offbeat Bride. The editor at Seal was interested, but wanted a different format — a service/memoir hybrid, like Offbeat Bride’s format.
(Personal plot twist: the meeting with Seal Press last spring was just gonna be on the phone, but then a writer I’d been flirting with in San Francisco offered to fly me down so I could meet with the editor face-to-face at the Seal offices in Berkeley. “Plus, then I could take you out to a celebratory dinner and we could finally meet face to face,” he said. “No expectations,” he said. Now it’s almost a year later and I have a two book deal with Seal Press and the writer is my boyfriend and jeez isn’t it remarkable how things unfold?)
After bringing Caroline Diezyn on as my co-writer for the book, we spent six months reworking the proposal, workshopping titles, and trying to mold a book we could sell from the book I had written. In the fall, the acquisition committee at Seal Press / Hachette bounced around our updated proposal (new title, updated marketing section, tinker tinker, poke poke, prod)… and they made an offer in December!
The final title is Shitshow to Afterglow, which is more playful than previous titles… which I appreciate. Even though the book is about what was without a doubt the most excruciating, miserable time of my life, the biggest takeaway for me was that if you can really lean into your own grief and commit to working with it, remarkable things can happen. I’m not saying you gloss over the grief, put on a happy face, find the silver lining! My experience after going through a crisis was that life is never what it was before. This is not a book of sunshiney happy platitudes and “getting over it”… it’s a book about rolling up your sleeves and staying with your sorrows even when it feels like your skin is burning off, so that you can make new choices and rebuild your life in ways that get you somewhere. It’s about grieving forward.
Current status: Caroline and I have all the chapters mapped out, and they’re spending the next four months integrating my existing writing with their additional work to produce the completed first draft manuscript. The goal is to have the book on shelves Spring of 2020.
Pros Before Bros (Offbeat Empire, February 2019!)
This project has been my playground. While Offbeat Bride‘s third edition is about bringing old work into new relevancy, and Shitshow to Afterglow is about getting my more current work out there, Pros Before Bros is my forward-looking exercise in future-casting and business development and experiments for where I might want things to go.
At a glance, it’s a 10k erotic novelette that I wrote and am self-publishing as a small luxe hardback, paired in a gorgeous package with jewelry I designed with a Seattle artisan. When you zoom out, it’s a massive experiment in tangibility, valuation, market exploration, and product development. I’ve been sharing my process in an extremely long-winded newsletter, and as those of you who’ve been following along know… it’s a lot. I’m so excited about this product, but I’m also super curious about the much larger concept of curating a series of luxe literary/lifestyle pairings.
I’m not there yet, though. First I have to see how this first prototype print run does. It’s super limited edition, 100 books (50 sold with necklaces, 50 sold with bracelets). I need to just see how that goes before I let myself look any farther ahead.
LAUNCHED! You can get your copy here.
Offbeat Ada’s Events (Seasonally, 2019)
In partnership with Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe in Seattle, I’m hosting a seasonal series of author events at their gorgeous bar space, The Lab. I’ve been doing these since 2017, and the combo of the gorgeous dark space (that test tube chandelier!) and the full bar and the intimate size make them feel like way more than your average book store events.
If you’re in Seattle I hope you’ll consider joining me.
offbeatbride.com & offbeathome.com
Aww, the websites that make it all worth it! While I’m heads-down on my three book projects, the websites are being managed by a two-person team: Senior Editor Catherine Clark, and Sales Manager Tiffany Wright. These two superheroes have worked with me for many many years, and have the web systems down to a degree that I never did. With them around, things run smoothly — and when they don’t, I step in to change the oil, bang a dent out of the chassis, or wrangle Kellbot our longtime webdev to tune up the engine. Sometimes I play bad cop and hunt down unpaid invoices with a bedazzled crowbar in hand, but that’s pretty rare because Offbeat Bride sponsors are fucking awesome humans, some of whom have been with the site for a decade!
I’m continuing to try to write a few posts a month on offbeathome.com, and the editorial that’s coming your way on offbeatbride.com in the next few months is elevated mind-boggling eye candy, as you’ve come to expect… but the reality is this: 2019 is not the year for shaking the website trees. We might kick up the flare on offbeatbride.com this fall in conjunction with the third edition of the book, but it’s not a year for drastic changes in web strategy, y’know? Stay the course, digitally. Safe ‘n’ steady as she goes, friends.
Ok, that was a lot! As always, I’m wide open to questions or feedback… the conversations with y’all are my favorite part of this job.