Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison Fiction

This has been a hard post to write. So much so, I’ve put off doing it time and again.

Earlier this month, I made the difficult decision to ask for a reversion of rights for my stories with Dreamspinner Press. The decision was made for a variety of reasons, not the least of which concerns my own struggle to continue writing MM romance.

Were it not for Dreamspinner Press taking a chance on me and publishing Unspeakable Words back in 2010, I doubt I would be a published author today. I can’t believe it’s been almost nine years to the day. But the truth of the matter is I haven’t subbed anything to DSP in years, and now seems to be the right time to end our association. It was not a decision I made lightly. I do not have any hard feelings toward DSP, just a sense of regret, the way one does when a chapter in your life closes.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be getting back all my DSP titles. The plan is to re-edit, re-cover (if needed) and re-publish, though I confess, that looms before me as a daunting task when I have so little spoons to work with these days. It is also a financial outlay that I can ill-afford and not likely to give me a huge ROI on books that have been out for years.There is a strong probability I will be putting some of these titles in KU, though that remains to be seen.

If I sound discouraged, I am. To be honest, I don’t know what this means for writing future books under the Sarah Madison name. I’ve been promising for years now I would finish the Sixth Sense series and give it closure, but as you can see, that hasn’t happened despite all my best intentions. And the dissolution of my relationship with DSP will probably slow that timetable down once again.

By 2020, it will have been ten years since the release of the first edition of Unspeakable Words. It would be nice to end the series within a decade! But I have to accept the fact I can’t make promises any more.

I’m not certain what this means for my writing in general. Publishing is a hard business, especially if I’m in the longest publishing drought of my life. Perhaps the answer is to try my hand at something new, a different genre, a different kind of storytelling. Perhaps the answer is to accept the closing of this door and call it done.

But I’m a storyteller at heart. Even if I stop publishing, I won’t stop writing. It may just be stories I write for my own amusement, but I’ll still keep writing.

My biggest apologies to the fans of the Sixth Sense series who have begged for the final installment. I promised and I haven’t delivered. I’d like to believe I’ll still get there–I want to give Lee and Flynn their ultimate HEA as much as you want to read it–but I’m running a few quarts low on faith these days.

22 thoughts on “Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison Fiction

  1. I won’t lie: I do want that last instalment on sixth Sense’s series, but I’m also very grateful that you aren’t caving to external pressure and writing something you are not feeling.

    I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be in your position and as I’m not a writer myself, I don’t have a piece of wisdom that could help.

    Just… if you publish another book, no matter the genre, I’ll be there, ready to read it. Because your books? I love them. And I love them not because of the genre, although that might have been the reason I stumble upon them. I love them because I love your writing.

    So, do what you need to do to be happy. And if that includes writing, whenever that is we’ll still be here 🙂

    • Aw, thank you! Your comment is heartening in so many ways. Because of your kind understanding, I feel less of a heel for saying I don’t know when the next installment might come–and that alone lessens the pressure right there.

      Your generous compliments about my writing are ego-boosting as well, especially coming at a time when I question my role as an author of M/M romance. Perhaps all of this is the push I need to try out new things.

      At this point, I’d settle for writing anything, even if it meant going back to fanfic. 🙂
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison FictionMy Profile

  2. **great big giant hugs**

    One of the best things for me when I signed on with DSP was getting to meet so many awesome and amazing human beings. Talented writers, too, to be sure–but just Good People. I am so grateful that you are one of them. Feel free to reach out anytime for any reason, even if it’s just someone to talk to. (I haven’t written anything to completion in ages, either, so I totally get that part of where you’re coming from.)

    • You are so sweet! I feel bad for dropping out of sight these past few years, but they’ve been rough. I knew if I spent much time online, I’d just whine, and I didn’t want to do that. I was just beginning to lift my head out of the quicksand and reach a place where I toyed with various scenes when this situation arose. In some ways, it feels like a sign: time to let it go and move on with something else in my life.

      But perhaps the answer is to accept that I must write slower and publish less often. To give up on the idea that this is more than a hobby and try not to lose too much money on it. 😉

      Meeting you has been one of the highlights of this journey. I consider myself lucky to know you.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison FictionMy Profile

  3. *HUGS HUGS HUGS*

    I can appreciate how difficult this decision is, and while I hold out hope that the Sixth Sense will have that HEA closure, you should be proud of your work, because it is great! I hope your writing continues for your sake, and brings you happiness and peace.

    Namaste,

    Tame

  4. I love your writing and hope you find peace in whatever you decide. Just realize that you have fans who will read whatever you write as long as we can find it. Keep us posted!

  5. Thank you so much for everything you have written. I think that many people do not even think of trying to connect with their favorite authors because we just assume you guys know how awesome and amazing we think you and your stories are. Also I try not to poke/whine to authors about when they will give me my next reading fix. But I would like you to know that the Sixth Sense series has been re-read multiple times and I love Lee and Finn. In the last couple years it seems like a lot of my favorite m/m authors are parting ways with DSP and I would like to say if you find another publisher or use other platforms like Patreon to build a supportive base I would love to be part of that process. You probably have more silent fans than you realize and I hope that you keep writing for whoever and whenever life allows.

    • Oh Danielle! Most of the authors I know think they are terrible writers! We struggle with our stories, we bite our nails when we release them. We hope people will like them but we’re worried they won’t. One bad review can negate the power of 50 stellar ones.

      So I can’t think of a great compliment than you re-reading the Sixth Sense series. Thank you. It’s because of readers like you I really want to give the series–and the boys–the closure they deserve.

      I know something like Patreon isn’t a good fit for me because I can’t produce enough content to make it work. But I have considered simply posting a chapter at a time to this website if I decided not to move forward with publishing in the future. Because I tend to rewrite chapters over and over, I wouldn’t post anything until I had the whole thing done–and by that point, I might as well self-publish, right? 🙂 These are just random ideas that fly into my head at times though.

      The biggest issue is I’m struggling with depression after a series of life-altering events. It’s difficult to draw water from an empty well. But I figure the well won’t remain empty forever. If I manage to get the final installment written before 2021, I will publish it. *fingers crossed*

      But thank you. Encouragement like this is what more authors need than you realize. <3
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison FictionMy Profile

    • Dear Sarah,
      I absolutely understand. Your novels and the general romance novel community have gotten me through personal and societal losses. I feel like the last 5 years have been hard on a lot of people. But books have always been an outlet for me and I reached out to let you know that your books have been a gift. If there is any way I can help support your writing let me and your other readers know!

  6. It’s always a shame to see any author thinking of stopping, but, if you’re not feeling it, anything you churn out because you feel you must would definitely be below par, and no-one wants that.

    As for re-releasing older titles though, you might find you get new readers from doing so, since you’re likely to be able to set a lower price, especially if you use somewhere like payhip to sell them direct.

    I’d love a copy of Holiday House Swap for example, but I simply can’t afford to pay what DSP are asking, so I’ve never bought it.

    In any case, I wish you luck, whatever you decide to do going forward.

    • Thank you, Dawn. I *really* don’t want to put anything out there I don’t believe in. I strongly suspect I will be releasing these older titles at lower prices–and perhaps even putting them in KU, something I couldn’t do before. But overhauling the old stuff–re-editing and getting new covers–might take more spoons (and money) than I can put into things right now. So if I move forward with self publishing, they’ll probably be released in little dribbles and drabs.

  7. I think with everything going on with DSP these days (the on-going issue of them NOT paying authors) you are making the right decision to leave them. That ship is sinking fast.

    Personally, I think it would be wrong of you to let these books fall into obscurity they are fantastic, and deserve to be preserved. I think self-publishing would be the answer. A lot of authors are doing it, and it takes a lot of pressure off them. It also means that they will get paid, an issue that seems to plague DSP at the moment. I would suggest that you investigate whether DSP have paid you all the royalties that you are supposed to be getting, and are owed.

    Re-publish them under your own banner – use the Amazon self publishing system if it helps. You do not have to be bound to one genera – also, you do not have to write another word 🙂

    You have to do do what is right for you, and your fans will back you to the hilt. Writing should be a joy, a passion – and if you are not feeling it at the moment, then… You are not feeling it at the moment.

    I could wax on about ways that might help; re-reading the original books, re-editing them to bring them up to date with today’s tech… Or even just re-read them, and start from the point that ten years have passed at the start of the fourth book – build in the time gap… But, you have to be feeling it, and if you are not – That’s OK.

    It really is OK.

    You are, and will forever be a published author. No one can take the achievement from you. Whatever you decide to do, your books are amazing and wonderful.

    • Jamie: Your comment here had me breathing a big ol’ sigh of relief. You guys have all been so kind and understanding here. Thank you.

      I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to what I might do with the existing body of work. The biggest problem is with the rights reversion, the material comes back to you in the raw form. Which means it has to be re-edited again and possibly needs new covers as well. That’s an investment of time and money I can ill-afford right now, but I *could* work on it a little at a time and put the stories up on Amazon and KU. The mechanics are already in place–I’ve done a small amount of self-publishing before.

      Building the time gap in the SS series is an interesting idea (though I have no idea how I’d manage it! 🙂 ). I’ll have to give that some thought!

      The rights have been reverted to me–now it’s a matter of waiting until DSP removes them from all their various outlets, which can take time. That gives me a little time to figure out the best way to move forward, even if it it only to release the stories in a little KU boat and walk away.

      Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. It means more than you could ever know.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison FictionMy Profile

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