The secular publishers just couldn’t get excited about my message.
The Christian publishers found it too violent.
FROM THE FOUNDER OF MONSTER IVY:
In 2007, after giving birth to my second child, my sister, Cammie, told me to read Twilight, so I did. I wasn’t a huge reader back then, but I did love books and writing.
After reading Twilight, just like so many other writers out there, I knew I had to write my own book. I wrote a paranormal fantasy that, to this day, needs to be vastly edited.
A couple of years later, I finished writing a dystopian just about the time The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games got big. That book, which later ended up being The Dollhouse Asylum, snagged me my first agent who sold it to a mid-sized publisher, Spencer Hill Press.
The year was 2012. In terms of publishing, I believed I was on the road to “making it.” Sure, I didn’t get a fatty advance, but I did sign advance copies at Spencer Hill’s booth at Book Expo America in New York. Also, the line of bloggers to read that book was pretty long. I’d been fortunate enough to work with an amazing editor who whipped that book into shape and snagged an amazing cover artist, so the hype for my little dystopian society was pretty high.
That’s when things started to go wrong. Bloggers around the world complained that my protagonist was “too weak” and some went as far as to say that I should be raped and killed for writing it. In short, I was heartbroken. I knew I’d written a story that was a little weird, but it was the story inside me. A book about a timid girl in love with her captor who needed to escape psychological abuse.
A couple of years later, the amazing Kate Kaynak sold Spencer Hill Press and for whatever reason, I stopped receiving royalty statements or checks. By 2015, I’d signed with a new wonderful literary agent (my former one quit) and I’d written a novel I KNEW would get me that fatty advance.
That’s what I endeavored to do before writing page one: to write a book that was so wrought with love and action and depth that many large publishing houses would salivate over it.
My agent submitted that book, Our Sweet Guillotine, to many publishing houses. Unfortunately, many felt that historical fiction was a hard sell and, again, a few didn’t connect with my slightly off-kilter protagonist. Many publishing houses blatantly stated that they were not interested in Christian messages.
There are Christian publishers—in fact, every large publisher has at least one Christian imprint—but most, if not all, want warmer and fuzzier stories. Ones which would find my little story about guillotines and axe-carrying sirens a little too violent.
The secular publishers just couldn’t get excited about my message. The Christian publishers found it too violent.
What was a girl to do? My agent and I both felt lost.
It was the end of 2016 when I texted Cammie, who had an entrepreneurial background and had been working as a freelance editor:
"What if I started my own small press?"
She laughed. She called me on the phone and said, “Remember how I’ve been wanting to do that?” And then I remembered how she told me that she and her husband had wanted to start a publishing company in a few years, because they saw how much trouble I was having placing my work. They believed in my ability and wanted to help me and other fledgling writers get their work out there. When they first told me their idea a year or two before, I thought they were crazy. Besides, I wanted to be published by a reputable New York publishing house.
So, I did what I vowed I would never do: I self-published Our Sweet Guillotine. Cammie and I took the plunge and created our own company. We became Monster Ivy Publishing, which would publish my books, a series we wrote together, (Sisters of Bloodcreek), and now, other Edgy, Clean fiction from other writers.
It’s a terribly difficult industry. The vast majority of writers make less than $10,000 a year, and add that we’re a start-up? It’s crazy. But we had to try. And now we’ve been in this for a few years and just can’t quit. We adore the authors we work with. We find that they, like us, feel compelled to write these edgy, but clean, stories. We work the long, entrepreneurial hours to give them the voice they’ve earned.
We love the readers we’ve found and can’t wait for more to share our excitement over these stories. Check us out. Give one book a read. You'll find each book is a gem in its own way. Then, tell your friends and help us spread our monstrous idea. We’ll keep hustling and taking our giant leaps of faith, believing our gracious Father in Heaven will keep blessing our efforts and make it what He wants!