Lion’s Den IX: Sarah Hoyt

Sarah Hoyt is dipping her toe into the cold, but liberating waters of independent publishing with her book WITCHFINDER. She describes it thusly:

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

Sarah adds: This book was very strange. First, it started as an almost joke.  A friend
suggested we collaborate on it because, hey, people liked regency fantasies,
and we wrote a proposal (which was nothing like this.  For one, it was for a
much shorter book) and we sent it to my agent.  My agent first balked at
sending it out because “you have a woman from present-day Earth and someone
in the regency.  No one will know what to do with it.”  (Apparently she
never read things like Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci series or the ton of
time travel romance books that were so popular in the eighties.  Okay, truth
be told, I never read those either, but I DID hear of them.  Impossible not
to.)  Then she sent it out under pressure (or at least she said she had) and
the rejections agreed with her opinion. So, this book went in the drawer with about fifteen others that never sold
in proposal.

Two and a half years ago when I started blogging every day (and wasn’t out
politically yet) my biggest issue was what to blog about.  (It still is,
because there isn’t something that fascinating to me every day.)  So I
decided to make Fridays easier by posting a chapter of a novel every Friday. 
Why Witchfinder?  No idea.  I think it more or less was the first one to
come up.  Also, it was definitely not a Baen novel, so no problems with
upsetting my publisher.

I wrote to my friend, asked her if she’d send me a quit-claim on the novel.
She did.  I started posting it.  I thought it would be a shortish novel and
never come out officially, but I gave people the option of donating $6 and
when it was done, I’d edit it and send them an ebook.  I made $5k.  While
it’s not the advance I normally get for science fiction and fantasy, it was
the advance I got from Prime Crime for mystery.  (SF/F pay me better.)
Also, when I sent it out to be edited, my three editors who are two trusted
friends and my husband (yes, I know typos escaped.  Part of it was the way
it was written.  You should have seen it before) all thought I should
publish it.  Which led to my publishing it.

But structure/plot/possibly typo-ing it all feels very odd to me.  If you’d
asked me if I could write a novel a chapter a week over two years, I’d have
said you were nuts.  And yet, when I read it (other than continuity typos,
like people changing name, which I was still fixing at the last minute) it
read as well (or as badly, depending on your opinion!) as any other of my
works. Except perhaps the world building got WAY more convoluted than it
normally does, because I world build in sudden fits of brilliance and a year
and a half is a lot of time for such fits.
So, in a way this novel is a first two ways: it’s my first slow-written
novel, and my first indie novel.

VD: If you’re interested in reading WITCHFINDER, writing a review, and sending it to me for posting here, please send me an email with WITCHFINDER in the subject. And if you have any questions for Sarah about her book, please post them in the comments here.

I’m also looking for 10 launch reviewers for both a)  AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LANDS and b) TRANSHUMAN OR SUBHUMAN. For the former, you’ll need to be able to read it and post a review on Amazon over the coming weekend. Email me with either AWAKE or TRANSHUMAN in the subject, but not both, please.