It has been one crazy adventure, but I have just published my first novel!
Chasing Fae is finally out in the world, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. When I started on my writing journey for this book, I had no idea that I would end up with a newfangled hybrid publisher who would fall in love with my book and take it from a dream to a beautiful reality. Today, I want to share the story of my publishing journey with you because I am convinced that hybrid publishing may be the new wave of the future.
How did I end up at New Degree Press?
I like to think that New Degree Press found me because the way I happened across it felt like destiny. It was one of the few nights where I ventured into the Sadler Center to eat dinner. I stopped by the flyer board like I usually do to read what was going on on campus. To my surprise, I found a flyer asking me if I was interested in writing my own book and getting published. Seeing as this was my biggest dream, I scanned the QR code and filled out the interest form. I found myself on a journey to writing a nonfiction novel with New Degree Press through a partnership program with Georgetown University called the Book Creator program. It is going to be a book about more immersive, unique methods of teaching history through things like living museums, childhood books, and family history research. I really enjoyed working on it, but it definitely needs a bit more work before I am ready to put it out into the world.
While I was working on the nonfiction book, I was querying literary agents for Chasing Fae without much luck. During one of my weekly lessons, the professor running the program, Eric Koester, talked extensively about hybrid publishing in comparison to the other models. Under New Degree’s method, I would have complete control over the rights and the creative processes of my book. And with their unique presale model, I wouldn’t have the financial strain of self-publishing. I asked Professor Koester if New Degree Press took outside submissions. Turns out they did, and they were pretty selective (I remember a number like 8%). In less than two weeks, I was sitting on a video call with the head of the publishing board, Brian Bies, in the middle of fall exams.
Everything Brian told me about the process captivated me. He treated me warmly and professionally like a real author. He answered every question I had with ease and didn’t seem to mind that I had so many questions. Three weeks later after exams were over, I submitted Chasing Fae for their consideration. On the second day of spring classes, I got the email that they were publishing my book. It was crazy; it was at the beginning of a 3 hour long class. I couldn’t tell anyone for three whole hours! It was torture.
The Presale Campaign
For the first couple months, I launched a presale campaign with New Degree Press’s help on IndieGoGo. The presale campaign allowed me to raise some funds to put towards the publishing process as one would do for self-publishing. But instead of paying for all the pieces myself, I was able to sell books to people who really would want to read them and give them something special in exchange for just a little bit of help making it happen.
I reached out to family and friends everywhere, classmates I hadn’t talked to in years, social media. I actually got to reconnect with some old friends, which was really fun. I know I must have bombarded my social media audience constantly for two months. So glad they didn’t get tired of me! In the end, I sold 126 signed copies of Chasing Fae to meet my threshold to publish digitally and in paperback. That was such a powerful moment for me to see the support pouring in. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Turning the Manuscript into A Book
The first stage in the publishing process was editing. I met my editor, Kristy Carter, who has honestly been a godsend. I love her. She answers all of my questions no matter how many I throw at her. She was really invested in my book; she enjoyed the story and really worked hard to help me make it better.
The two of us worked for about a month to edit the book. This was my seventh revision on the book, but it was the first time a professional editor had read through the entire book. It was super transformative for me to work with Kristy on Chasing Fae. She constantly commented on my chapters, not just things she thought needed adjusting, but also scenes or lines that she really enjoyed. I loved getting new edits from her to tackle. She helped me add more description, bring in more backstory, and just pull the story together.
Next, I got to work on my cover. One of the best parts of working with New Degree Press was getting to design the cover. I had a good idea of what I wanted to see on the cover: the moment where Grace crosses from the Middle Realm into the Upper Realm for the first time. It has layers in the scenery and different shades of light. I worked with Brian to come up with a few different ideas before we sent them off to the cover design team. My designer, Milan Krstevski, captured my initial vision so perfectly that as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the cover for me. After a couple of very minor adjustments, the cover was ready.
Copyediting was next, and I got to work with Amanda Brown, the head of the copyediting team at New Degree Press. She also really enjoyed my book. Her notes and changes were perfect. There was nothing that I really had any questions or concerns about. I read the book cover-to-cover once more to approve the changes, and then the book went off to proofreading. I didn’t see it again until the layout stage. I approved the layout pretty quickly after confirming that my beautiful maps that my boyfriend created for me needed to be in black and white to keep printing costs down.
Throughout every stage of the publishing journey, I participated in weekly workshops with other authors who were going through the process at the same tie. These workshops helped me learn the process of editing and cover design and marketing with such a personal education style. Those workshops were the highlight of my weeks, especially as I entered into the pandemic. I feel like I learned so much from Brian and everybody at New Degree Press.
What Comes Next
As I write this, I am entering into the beginning of publication week. I have a lot of wonderful plans to celebrate the launch of my debut novel, including this very post, which is part of a virtual blog tour I have arranged. I am incredibly delighted by how this whole publishing adventure turned out for me. I hope that New Degree Press and I will continue to work together in the future as I write books 2 and 3 of the Chasing Fae trilogy.
From the time she was a child of eleven, writing her first novel between classes, Cady Hammer explored her world through her imagination. She was often teased for being in her own world, but never hesitated to invite others along on the adventure. As she grew older, Cady’s studies in history and anthropology set the stage for the detailed worldbuilding that lets readers step into the story. Her stories explore the complexities of relationships crafted around the idea that love, friendship, and grief are all interwoven.
Cady runs the internationally-read website, Fluff About Fantasy, a place for young writers to learn the genre-specific craft of writing fantasy and be inspired by what they can accomplish. Find out more at https://fluffaboutfantasy.com.