‘I RECEIVED AN OFFER TO PUBLISH MY BOOK!…But I rejected it.’: Woman urges ‘don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve’

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You read that right—finally, after all of these years, I received a bonafide, written contract with all sorts of lawyer-y language I need help to understand. This contract offered to publish my words and my husband’s illustrations. Yes, I’m very lucky to live with my illustrator. It was already signed by the publisher, waiting only for mine. WOW, right?

I rejected it.

You may not know this, but I actually have three books waiting to live outside of my MacBook Pro. There’s a romantic comedy, a drama, and a children’s book. I’ve been peddling the children’s book the hardest lately. For some reason I really want that one to make it first—it’s a beautiful collaboration and seamless mix of my words and my husband’s art.

I still rejected it.

I have been submitting to editors, agents, and publishers for so long now I’ve lost count. Most of the submissions either end with a rejection letter or an awkward silence. Some days, I find an online list of ‘publishers currently taking submissions’ and submit to all of them.

What I didn’t know at the time was one of the publishers I submitted to is a vanity publisher. Essentially, they offer a shared-cost contract which means the author has to pay a portion or all of the costs associated with publishing the book. While they don’t take every submission they get, I was delighted to know I was in the 8-10% of submissions that are accepted and offered a contract. Cool, right?

But I still rejected it.

I had a series of emails back and forth with the publisher asking valid questions about the process. If I essentially pay to have the book published, where’s the initiative for the publisher to promote my book? What if the book doesn’t sell and I’m in the hole several thousands of dollars? How are these costs ‘shared?’

My last email to the publisher simply stated the only terms I would accept from them were if it was a traditional (non-shared-cost) contract. My fingers trembled as I typed it out. It was a mix of, ‘I said what I said,’ and ‘I can’t believe what I just said.’

Here’s the thing—I believe, we believe, that this book is worth a traditional contract. It’s worth more. We are worth more. The story deserves a traditional publishing contract and we won’t accept anything less.

We’re not going to settle.

Neither should you.

Sure, sometimes in life we take what we can get and find gratitude in what is, not what could be. I believe firmly in that outlook for life.

But, sometimes, we need to take a stand for what we deserve and accept nothing less.





Publishing contracts

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve. Don’t settle for anything less. Remember, a closed door today simply may mean that it just wasn’t your door.

Saying ‘no’ can be scary but oftentimes it’s the only thing that sets the standard. YOU are in control of setting your standards — don’t let a shared-cost contract tell you otherwise.

Hang in there, y’all. xo”

stack of books on a table
Courtesy of Melanie Forstall

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melanie Forstall of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Melanie here:

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‘I blurted, ‘I’m already ready for school to start!’ I’d forgotten how to act normal in public.’ Without hope I’m lost.’: Mom says of extended summer, ‘I’ve had plenty, thanks’

‘We left home on our bikes and didn’t return until the street lights came on. Growing up as a kid in the 80s totally prepared me for this.’: Mom encourages kids to have 80s-style independence

‘She’s 12 years old and has her first job. Four days a week. I don’t know about you, but I know for sure I wasn’t doing this.’: Mom proud of 12-year-old for first job, ‘There is not a sliver of my younger self in her’

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