The Hedgewitch Experiment Lilith Saintcrow December 9, 2011

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The cover of The Hedgewitch Queen, showing a woman in a white dressI wrote The Witch QueenLet’s see, ]mumble mumble[[[[ years ago, in a feverish haze. It all started, as so many books do, with a character whispering in my ear. If not for a muddy skirtsaid a clear, cultured and proper voice, I would have died like everyone else.

Dead… or worse, maybe.

Of course, I had to keep writing to find out what was “worse”. Arquitaine opened up around me, and several drafts later (I think it was the book that cemented my faith in the patience of my long-suffering beta reader) I had a novel that I was satisfied. Well, as much as a writer is always happy with a draft. We are inveterate pickers. But I digress.

Unfortunately, it was not the right time to release it. I was into other series, and both my editor and my agent agreed that my dear Hedgie had to wait. I stuck out my bottom lip, pouted a bit, then finally happily agreed. Such moments are a career in publishing made.

Years later, when my editor at Orbit called my agent. “Does Lili still have Hedgewitch?” If so, there is that opportunity. This is an ebook version only.

There are few things as flattering to a writer as a publisher who remembers your book (in a positive slight, mind you) several years later. I listened to the terms and asked a few questions. I took some time to think about it. And in the end, I said yes. I’m so glad I did, even though it did load up some tight deadlines on an already huge pile of work.

I’m not a big fan of ebooks personally. I prefer paper, and I will until I die. As a writer, I’m not a big fan either, because of piracy. I have, in several bitter moments, compared the e-book writer’s experience to throwing their own baby into a dark well. Those few writers who trumpet that electronic piracy “helps” their sales are anomalies; if they don’t have the grace to preface their remarks with “untypical results”, I find their attitudes dishonest at best.

So why the hell would I say okay with that?

It’s not because I (or my agent, or my publisher) thought the book was substandard or unsellable, as some have openly assumed. (I would urge those who did to shove their suppository guess into the right orifice, but their big heads obviously take up all the space there.) It’s not because there was a monstrous pile of money in game. (I wish.) It’s not because Orbit just decided to throw something all over the internet and see if some bits stick. (Uh.)

Quite frankly, I’ve reached a point in my career where I can afford to experiment a little bit. I was extremely happy that my publisher remembered the book after several years, and honored (and trusted) Orbit would put a lot of effort and care into my book as a flagship offering. I knew that many of my fans loved e-readers and would appreciate work in this format. There was the possibility that this version introduces my work to new readers, even if Witch is very different from anything I’ve published, with the possible exception of flower of steel. Plus, I thought it would be pretty damn fun, and you have to have fun where you find it in this career.

There are plenty of other authors who can’t afford to experiment like this, for the simple reason that it’s not cost effective to have an ebook-only version when they could come out in more paper editions. difficult to fly. I am one of the lucky ones and realize that my results are not typical. I did it for fun, to experiment, to have the chance to work with an editor I love and respect to make the story even better, to have the chance to offer something new to my loyal readers and perhaps introduce some new victims into my dark army.

Hey, a bad genius must do his recruiting somehowYou know?

I’m waiting to see how it goes, and I know Orbit is. I’m glad we were able to take this chance together. All the fans I’ve heard of are excited with me. Well, except for those who think I shouldn’t be allowed to write anything other than black leather bitches.

But this is another story.

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