Just when you think you’ve heard all the stories there are to hear about publishing — you find out you’re wrong. Again. Kimberly Menozzi’s story is one of publishing perseverance and determination. And while I’m dedicated to featuring traditionally published authors on Women’s Fiction Writers, Kimberly’s story of how and why Ask Me If I’m Happy came to be self-published, is worth sharing with all of you — in my opinion. I think you’ll agree.
Please welcome Kimberly Menozzi to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Author Kimberly Menozzi Says When It Comes To Publishing, She’s Taking The Long Way Around And That’s OK
My name is Kimberly Menozzi, and my first novel, Ask Me if I’m Happy, was originally put out by a small publishing house in London in November of 2010. It probably won’t surprise you to know I was perfectly willing – and happy – to start out “small” as it were.
Even better was the fact the publishing house had found my work quite by chance. The publisher had initially spotted my work on the Authonomy website, run by Harper Collins, back in 2008. The day after the publishing house’s 2009 launch in London (which I attended), they asked if I would let them publish my book in 2010.
Of course, I said ‘Yes’. I was thrilled to be a part of the publishing world at last, even in this rather small way. That someone else had thought my work worth sharing with the world at large was a heady, wonderful feeling.
Soon afterward, I emailed one of their editors my full manuscript and he sent me his suggestions for edits a short while later. We worked online, doing rewrites and revisions. The release date was discussed and changed multiple times, to avoid conflict with other titles due in the spring, and then the summer. Finally we settled on a date in November, one month after the release of another title by the house.
Publicity was minimal. A few small adverts for my mid-week book launch were provided on free-to-the-public websites such as Time Out London. My publisher spared a few posts on their websites, too. However, aside from those posts, I was the only one who really seemed to make an effort to get the word out about my book.
To my delight, I was invited to read at two charity events in Oxford. My readings were well-received, and a few copies of my book were sold and signed. It was exciting and fun – even though no-one from my publisher attended the first event, and only stayed a very short while at the second.
Back in Italy, I continued doing everything I possibly could to raise awareness of my work. I did guest blogs and giveaways, wrote my own blogs, even sold books out of hand to teachers and students in the school where I worked.
In time, momentum began to build. I gained a small foothold on Amazon’s forums and had some lively conversations with people about subjects related to Ask Me if I’m Happy. Sales of the e-books picked up and a few copies of the paperback were sold.
And then, suddenly, my publisher decided they only wanted to publish Historical Fiction, which my work definitely wasn’t. They said my work would now be handled by the fledgling US division of their company. Unfortunately, the US division had no printer which could produce my novel for a reasonable price.
Production of my book reached a standstill. Without a paperback available, only the e-book was selling, and the publisher wasn’t actively promoting it. They earned a share what few sales there were yet did nothing to get the book in the public eye, because it wasn’t “their kind of book” any more.
To say I was troubled by this would be an understatement.
Worse yet, they weren’t answering questions about my book. I had friends, acquaintances, and even actual customers contacting me through my website. They asked why the paperback wasn’t available on Amazon any more. Could they get it at their local bookshop? Why not? When would it be out again?
You see, this is the part they don’t tell you about: After all your hard work, a publisher can drop you – just like that. This is why you need a contract, and why you need to read it very closely.
Believe it or not, in spite of everything that happened – or, rather, didn’t happen – I was quite lucky. It was easy enough to get my rights back once we’d determined they hadn’t fulfilled their side of the contract. Rights in hand, off I went in search of a new publisher or an agent to represent the work. What I hadn’t anticipated was the fact that no-one – publisher or agent – wanted anything to do with it since was now considered a “previously-published” work.
This was almost enough to convince me to give up. In spite of all my hard work, this was the end result?
After some heavy deliberation, desiring some sense of closure to the whole escapade, I opted to self-publish Ask Me if I’m Happy. After all, it had been vetted by an editor, and it had already gotten good reviews. Why not? With a new cover – including pull-quotes from writers I respect – I re-released my novel just six months after its first release.
I’m happy to say it’s selling modestly well. No, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling aren’t quaking in their shoes over my numbers. Nevertheless, the book is selling, and the majority of the reviews so far have been very positive.
My next go-round will likely follow the traditional path. I will write, revise, and submit dozens of queries to other publishers somewhere down the road. After all, my dream survived all this, didn’t it?
Trying to make it come true is the least I can do, even if it means taking the long way around.
An aspiring writer from the age of eight, Kimberly Menozzi began writing her first stories instead of paying attention in school. While her grades might have suffered, her imagination seldom did. She managed to keep most of her stories together for years, then lost them after a move when she left a trunk full of papers behind. (She meant to go back and get them, but circumstances prevented her from doing so.)
So, she started over again. And she lost those, too.
After a trip to England in 2002, she began work on A Marginal Life (Well-Lived), inspired by the music of Jarvis Cocker and Pulp. The novel was completed in 2003, and is undergoing rewrites with hopes of publication in the near future.
Also in 2003, she met and fell in love with an Italian accountant named Alessandro. She married him in 2004. This necessitated her arrival in Italy and she has lived there ever since. After several months of working for language schools and writing blog entries for her family in the US to read, new story ideas began to develop.
Finally, in 2007, she began work on a new project, inspired by her love/hate relationship with her new home. The novel Ask Me if I’m Happy was completed in 2009.
Ask Me if I’m Happy was first released November 15th, 2010 in the UK, and was re-released in the US on May 31st, 2011.
Kimberly is presently at work on her next project, 27 Stages.
In May of 2011, Kimberly also published a novella, “Alternate Rialto”, which is a prequel to Ask Me if I’m Happy.
18 thoughts on “Author Kimberly Menozzi Says When It Comes To Publishing, She’s Taking The Long Way Around And That’s OK”
Really interesting for me as I am publishing with a small press and promoting from Italy. I’m not worried about the same thing happening with my publishers as they are committed and supportive, but what a blow! And good on you for steaming ahead with self-publication – I have a feeling your book will be much bigger the second time around. Where are you in Italy?
It was a rough blow, indeed. I hope you’re right about the second time around, too.
As for where I am in Italy, I live in Reggio nell’Emilia which is about halfway between Bologna and Milano.
Wow, Kimberly. Thanks for sharing your publishing journey. This is incredibly informative to neophytes like me still learning about the business. I obviously still have lots to learn! As another aspiring author named Kimberly who lives in Italy : ) – just wanted to say congratulations! I’ll be looking out for your book!
Hi, Kimberly! 🙂
For better or worse, there’s always *more* to learn. That’s one thing I’ve come away with from this experience, I suppose.
Thanks for the congratulations, and if you get a chance to read it, I hope you’ll enjoy the book. Since you live in Italy, I think you’ll get an extra kick out of certain parts of it. 😉
Just when you think you’ve heard all the publishing horror stories. Congrats for hanging in there and best of luck with Ask Me if I’m Happy!
Thanks for the good wishes – that means a lot to me, you know. And hey – I’ll take all the good luck I can get!
I admire your determination to make lemonade from lemons. Will look out for your book. Good luck with the next one.
I admit, it wasn’t easy to do at first. The disappointment was profound when it first happened, really, but over time I was absolutely determined not to let it make me feel like I’d failed. The only way I could do that was to forge ahead – and I am so very glad I did that.
Time will tell with the next book – I just finished the first draft a couple of days ago, and I have even higher hopes (but a realistic outlook) for it. Thanks!
What a great story, Kimberly! Holy cow. And here I thought that I had taken the longest route possible to publication! I self-published my first novel, Sleeping Tigers, after trying to publish a novel with traditional publishers for 25 years–and, scarcely two weeks later, Penguin bought my next novel. But the up side to self publishing–as I’m sure you’re finding out–is that you can learn a lot about publicity because you’re forced to do it yourself, and that will surely help you get the word out about whatever books you publish in the future. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. We need to support each other any way we can in this business!
As much as I’d prefer to not have been able to tell that story, I sincerely hope other writers will learn from my experience, and I’m happy to tell the tale. The flipside is a story like yours – “overnight” successes are always years in the making, aren’t they? 🙂
And you’re very right – I’m learning about publicity every day, and I’m going to apply that to my future publications, whether they’re self-pub or traditional. At this point, I wouldn’t turn down a traditional deal, though. 😉
Fascinating story and more confirmation that we must have such thick, thick skins to survive in the publishing business. Good for you for not giving up!
It is definitely true that a thick skin is a must in this business – and I didn’t know how tough my hide was until this happened. I also have one other thing which worked to my advantage: a thick skull. LOL! I’m an exceptionally stubborn individual, as it turns out.
Who knew? 😉
I appreciate these insider stories. For those of us who aren’t at the publishing stage yet, our knowing these experiences of fellow writers is valuable. Thank you for this blog and all the information. You are appreciated!
It’s one of the wonders of the internet, I suppose: being able to learn from the experiences of others no matter where they are or where they’re from. If posts like this help anyone get through a rough patch on the way to reaching their goals and/or dreams, it’s worth having gone through it in the first place.
You are right, Amy. Her publishing story is very unique. Her determination is inspiring! And she married an Italian named Allessandro. That sounds like a story too!
If I may, I’d have to say that I’m nothing if not determined. One day I’ll share the story of how I met Alessandro – but chances are, readers would say it’s too good to be true. LOL!
I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks for the kind words.
I’m really glad this turned into a “lemons to lemonade” story – the publishing world is fraught with peril and there are no guarantees. I’m so glad when authors are willing to share these cautionary tales with others, so that we can learn from them. Thank you!
You’re most welcome, Terri! My sincerest hope is that others will learn from what I went through, especially if it keeps them from having to deal with the difficulties which followed.