Many of you have walked with me lo, these many years, ever since the Marcher Lord Select Contest of 2009, when Alara’s Call (then known by a much lamer title that shall not be spoken here) was voted off the island in the first round. You may remember when I announced that OakTara had given me a four-book contract for The Prophet’s Chronicle series.
That was over two years ago.
Two years of friends with whom I had celebrated my contract asking “when does your book come out?” and me saying “I don’t know.”
Last year I had a glimmer of hope when I was sent a proof of the cover. I was asked not to post it online (and I still won’t) because the photo still had the stock photo service watermark on it.
Then nothing again.
My contract contained a simple clause I expected never to invoke. It says OakTara will offer the work for sale “within 24 months of the manuscript-in dates as noted…If OakTara fails to make the work available for sale within this timeframe, all rights hereunder shall revert to you within 30 days of your written notification.”
My manuscript-in date for Alara’s Call was April 19, 2013. That means that the aforementioned rights have reverted to me.
I’d rather have a book.
I have yet to receive acknowledgement of my written notification, which I sent not only by e-mail but also by post to both of OakTara’s offices—one in Illinois, and the other in Virginia. My Virginia letter came back Thursday with a big yellow Return to Sender sticker on it.
OakTara doesn’t seem to have shut down completely. Its website is still running, and an e-mail newsletter sent in February mentioned a new imprint, Eleutheria, which was to have specialized in dystopian, sci-fi, and fantasy. But apart from some Facebook posts, the company’s staff has been silent. Because of the lack of communication and the fact that they don’t seem to have published a book since last fall, I’m pulling OakTara from our list of publishers.
This is a huge setback, but I’m not entirely at square one. I pitched my book to Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—more about them next week—and he asked for my proposal, even after my giving full disclosure about the contract situation with OakTara. So there’s that.
Silver lining: having let the manuscript lay fallow for a couple of years while I worked on the sequels, I’ve now been revising it again, smoothing out the text and even shaving a few more words out. I’ve learned a lot as a writer and editor in two years. Kessie Carroll will appreciate that I took out the stew and replaced it with cold ham and carrots.
Better still: I can finally share the map. Mary Elizabeth Hall drew this for me almost two years ago, right after I got the contract, but I was asked to keep it under wraps. No more. I still hope it will wind up in a book.
Update: I did receive acknowledgement of my written notification from OakTara in September 2015.