On buying back your rights

This author talks about why she paid many times her original advance to get the rights back to her early work so she could revise and reissue. I never even received a contract for my first book, much less any money for it. So I laid it out myself and reissued it as a free PDF earlier in the year. Still up there if you want a peek.

I was 28 years old, without a literary agent, when I was offered my first publishing deal. Though I’d never met the editor interested in my work, I assumed all editors wanted to be friends with the writers whose work they respected. I knew I desperately wanted to be friends with any editor who respected me.

I realized, nearly a decade too late, that this editor was never my friend.

Shamefully, I would repeat this pattern of assumed friendship in publishing with folks who, to their credit, never called me a friend. The only thing I did remotely well during my failed relationships with publishing was read, write, and reread. Rereading The Bluest Eye taught me how to value what I’d been told I could not see. Rereading The Fire Next Time taught me how to value the messy work of love in America. Rereading Going to the Territory taught me that “human being” was a verb. Rereading Kindred taught me to will my husky Black body beyond spectacle and into a generative space that needed to look back, back, forth, and forth.

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