To give some background for those who haven’t been following the drama: over the past few years, I’ve been giving away a series of short stories and novellas on my web page. They’ve mostly been back stories of characters from my books, allowing me to flesh out certain individuals/events in ways I simply don’t have room for in the main storyline. The latest of these was supposed to be a novella called “Masks”, dealing with an important period in Mircea’s past.
Now, authors usually fall into two categories: those who do short stories/novellas well, and those who prefer to write novels. In my case, I find writing longer fiction to be easier in most cases. And in the case of “Masks”, or should I say Masks, I ended up reverting to type and writing not the short I had planned, but a full-length novel.
This was not intentional. It was the result of a storyline that needed more room, combined with the fact that said story was my first set entirely in the past, and historical novels require more explanation than those set in the modern day. This didn’t particularly worry me, since I doubted anybody would mind getting a longer story than had been promised. I enjoyed writing the book, thought it turned out really well, and was looking forward to seeing people’s reactions.
So, fast forward to the middle of January. The story is done, proofed, and formatted for an e-book, and I was about to post it. But on that same day, I received a phone call from my agent, and I happened to mention it. And that was when the record scratched.
He informed me that a book was a very different thing in the publishing world from a short. Specifically, he was worried that a book might violate my contract with my publisher, because it contained a clause giving them an option on the next Cassie Palmer novel. I had known this, of course, but hadn’t worried about it since Cassie isn’t in Masks. It takes place five hundred years before she was born, and deals with events outside her main storyline. Therefore, from my perspective, this was in no way a “Cassie Palmer novel.”
However, my agent was not so sure, and thought there could be an issue because the book does use some characters from the CP universe. So he asked me to hold off for a few days and allow him to meet with my editor. A few days turned into a few weeks, because of the weather in NY recently, and because of people’s schedules. But he finally got in and, as it turns out, my publishers were absolutely of his opinion. Instead of being happy about the freebie I’d planned to offer, they . . . were not.
I explained that I had already announced it, and had promised people a free e-book. They explained that it wasn’t mine to give away. We had discussions. Or, to be more precise, they and my agent had discussions, and I was informed of their decision after it had already been made. In the end, I was left with two choices: burn the book and give it to no one, or let Penguin have it. So, they have it. And there is nothing I can legally do about it.
Except, of course, for two things. The first is to apologize. I wanted to write something beautiful, something I had been wanting to write for a long time, something in which I didn’t have to worry about editors and guidelines and restrictions. And I did. And it was glorious. But I should have taken a moment to consider the legal issues and to anticipate something like this. I didn’t, and for that, and for raising your expectations and for dragging you on this long saga with me, I am truly sorry.
The second thing I can do is try to make this up to you. Since Masks has been taken from me, I still owe you a freebie, which you will get. And I will be sure to make it a novella this time, so that it can’t be touched. I will also write you an extra freebie that I didn’t plan on, as a way of apologizing for the wait. I am finishing up another project now, and as it is under contract, it has to take precedence. But I will start work on your stories as soon as it is done.
As for Masks, Penguin plans to bring it out as an e-book special. No, they haven’t told me when. I will post an update whenever they do. If it does well as an e-book, they may bring it out in paperback, but that’s not the plan right now. No audio. That is all I know.