Saying No to a Publisher

At the start of the month, I posted about a possible secret writing project.  Wizards of the Coast asked me and a few other authors to write sample pages for a book they’re planning.  I was excited about the idea, and as a long-time gaming geek, I thought it would be a lot of fun to be a WotC author.

On May 11, I got an e-mail from the editor at Wizards.  She loved the sample and invited me to write the book.  On May 18, my agent received the official offer.

Yesterday, I turned them down.

Back in 2002, I sent sample pages to Wizards, hoping to write for them.  I’ve been playing D&D for most of my life (one of the reasons I said I’d be perfect for this project).  I have a number of friends who write for WotC and seem happy.  I was excited about being able to join them.

So why did I say no?  Ultimately, it’s because we couldn’t agree on what my time, energy, and writing were worth.  I was hoping to be able to negotiate a deal that would work for both sides.  Without going into detail, this didn’t happen.

It’s a strange feeling, saying no to a major publisher.  A strange feeling, and a scary one.  Did I make a mistake?  Have I burned a bridge?  Oh-God-what-the-hell-did-I-just-do???

At the same time, it’s empowering.  I don’t believe my ego has gotten out of control (yet), but I have developed more confidence in both my writing and my worth.  I don’t have to say yes to a deal I’m not comfortable with.

It’s important to be able to say no.  If you can’t, people can and will take advantage.  Sometimes your willingness to say no can result in a better deal.  Sometimes it helps you avoid a bad one.  Sometimes it helps you prioritize, because time is finite and there’s a limit to the number of stories anyone can write in their lifetime.  (With the possible exception of Jay Lake.)

A tie-in for Wizards would have been a lot of fun, and would have added something new to my body of work.  (Not to mention that I would have written one seriously Kick Ass book!)  On the other hand, this lessens my stress for the next few months, and frees up time to finish putting together the pitch for my next series.

I have no hard feelings or ill will toward Wizards.  I’m disappointed things didn’t work out, but it’s not the end of the world, or even the end of my career.

Questions and comments are welcome, as always, but be aware that I signed a nondisclosure agreement about the project, so I can’t get any more specific about the actual book.