Patel Patterson and the Apocalypse Key is not going to be published 9 October, 2018. Blaze Publishing has recently announced that they are closing, and they will do so without publishing Patel.

The world is hard for small publishers right now. This game is ever-evolving, and as traditional publishers cling to their empires and indie authors charge forward, the gap in the middle squeezes tighter and tighter.

“Crushed” is an ambiguous adjective.

“Heartbroken,” “reeling,” and “dazed” don’t really tell you much, either. To work on a project for three years—querying and editing and stressing and striving—is not an easy feat. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve been thwacked back to that loathsome Square One. I took a gamble on a small publisher, and I lost my publishing deal.

But did I really lose at all?

Throughout all of this, Blaze Publishing has been incredibly gracious and helpful. The company is giving me back all my rights, my cover image (It’s a knockout! Can’t wait to show you.), plus a fully-edited and formatted manuscript. This kind of generosity is unheard of. Blaze isn’t just setting me free—they’re setting me up for future success wherever I decide to go.

Was signing with Blaze a mistake? Absolutely not. I entered with an unpolished manuscript. I’m leaving with an edited, significantly stronger story, a marketing plan, and a whole lot of knowledge about the industry. I’m smarter than I was when I started. Stronger. Better-equipped.

Every endeavor, even the ones that don’t turn out the way we’d like, is an opportunity to grow.

If you’re not looking for that opportunity, you’re missing out.

So now I find myself kind of… Well, homeless, for lack of a better word. The French say SDF, or sans domicile fixe. It’s painful to imagine Patel out in the cold, but it also brings out the momma bear in me. I haven’t been posting much lately, and part of that is due to the effort of retaliation.

What am I doing in response to this? 

You’d better bet I’m not sitting around crying. Well, I am sitting around crying, but I can type through tears. Right now, I’m back in the query pool. I’m sending out proposals, querying agents and other small publishers, and looking ahead at pitch contests. (I already did all the work. I just have to copy/paste.)

I’m reaching out to my connections.

Believe it or not, I’m not the only author who has been through this, and I won’t be the last. My author mentors (check out Erin Straza and K. B. Hoyle) have been incredible through all of this, rallying around me with love, support, and advice.

I’ve also been reaching out quite a bit on Twitter and Facebook. The legion of online communities is a wellspring of information, and I’ve been blown away by the wisdom, advice, and compassion I’ve received from other writers. Connections are invaluable, and just because I lost my publishing house doesn’t mean I’ve lost this project or my author platform.

Right now, networking is more important than ever.

I’m hitting the books.

I haven’t posted in a hot minute, and part of this is because I’ve been knee-deep in research. Podcasts, books, blogs, online courses, videos, forums—you name it, I’m there. Now that I have full control of this project, I want to do everything I can to give this book justice, and that involves being knowledgeable about the industry. Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Bryan Cohen, and Gary Vaynerchuk have been occupying my time.

I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again: Even if you’re traditionally published, you should be researching like a self-published author.

It pays to be knowledgeable in the market you’re competing in.

“That’s all fine and dandy,” you say. “but self-help books and training montages do not a book sign.” So let’s get down to the real question.

What’s going to happen to Patel?

I’ll tell you what’s going to happen to Patel:

Patel Patterson and the Apocalypse Key is going to be published.

It won’t be 9 October. It won’t be November, December, or even January. I’m in negotiations with two publishers right now, and all signs seem to point to April 2019 for the new release date.

So the release is delayed a few months. So what? I’ve worked on this book for the last three years, and most authors work even longer.

I don’t look at this as a loss. If anything, it’s a gain. I have a year more to grow—to build, research, explore, and adjust my marketing plan. A year is a whole lotta’ time to get smart. This also gives me the time I need to prepare the next two books in the series (already written, of course) for rapid-fire releases.

What did you learn from this?

Well, I couldn’t possibly phrase it better than Blaze did: “As the world changes, we must adapt.”

If you want to get in this game, you need to be plucky. This world is constantly changing, and you really don’t know if you’ll wake up to an email saying that your entire project has crumbled.

But the great part about being an author is the infinite hope—hope in your colleges, hope for the future, and hope in the power of a good story. As painful as this has been, I look to the sky and thank God that I’m young and struggling and hungry. My life won’t always be like this, and I’m trying to learn to treasure each and every moment.

As always, your love and support mean the world to me. I can’t thank you enough for the “likes,” “shares,” and kind words in your messages.

The world needs stories like Patel’s—stories of hope and pain, loss and triumph. I’ll do everything I can to keep those stories alive.

blue room

Photo credit to Klara Avsenik and Josie Rodriguez.

Author: h.kates

H. Kates is a war gamer turned author. Her middle grade fantasy, PATEL PATTERSON AND THE APOCALYPSE KEY, debuts... Eventually.

8 thoughts on “CRUSHED”

  1. You’ve got it all going for you and sound like you’re already on the other side. I like how you take the positives from the situation and fly with them. Good luck. You deserve to succeed.


  2. Sorry to hear it turned out like this but as always you’ve turned this into a great learning experience for us as well as you. It’s excellent that you got some much experience out of the process but still must be gutting to lose something that felt in the bag. I try to remind myself all the time a thing isn’t solid until you’re holding it in your hand but in practice it’s a hard way to live and doesn’t always soften the blow of a loss. Very happy to hear you’re moving forward with poise though.


    1. Thank you for the kind words, Luke. I won’t lie and say my positivity is just about as tumultuous as the stock market. 🙂 Some days are easier than others. You’re absolutely right, though–nothing gold can stay. I think this is why it’s important for authors to be working on multiple projects simultaneously. Patel is absolutely my baby, but it’s not the only book on the block.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s a good rule in general; working on lots of different things, different ideas, projects, whether multiple pieces of fiction or fiction alongside other creative writing, or something totally different. Besides writing I’m working on music and just starting to look at trying to get into promoting events. One way or another I dont want to rely on too many external sources for success although that’s easier said than done, especially in writing. It’s interesting to me that other arts, to varying degrees, have artists that have shaken up the major power structures; guys like Immortal Technique (rapper) have made money off their own back with their art whilst almost totally cutting out the industry elites. Self-publishing has opened this door for us too, in theory, but in practice it hasn’t worked out that way at all (with maybe a couple of exceptions and those exceptions eventually get publishing house backing). Anyway, this turned into a ramble, but mostly I just wanted to throw positive vibes and solidarity your way and on top of that to express thanks for the work you’re doing here. Really great to read your experiences and very beneficial I’m sure for lots of writers.


      2. It’s pretty bleak, isn’t it? A smart person would give up right about now.

        But no one ever accused me of being scintillatingly intelligent.

        The hard part about this is there’s just no telling what does and what will work. The industry has changed more in 20 years than it has in the past 200. How do we deal with that as newbie authors? I don’t think anybody is quite sure. For now, I think we just need to keep plugging ahead with what we KNOW we need to do–WRITE. FINISH that book. START another. DO the research. STUDY the greats. All of those things I have control over, and I know for a fact that all of them will get me closer to being a great writer.

        The rest of this publishing stuff? I think I may have to sacrifice a spring chicken under a harvest moon when the wind blows at the witching hour. Or maybe find the hunchbacked traveller where the stream flows uphill. Or something like that. Anyway, I hope my experiences are helpful to read about.


  3. Hi Hannah,

    It is crushing news but from what I already know about you, your resilience and determination will keep you moving forward. It wasn’t a mistake to sign with a small publisher. You made the best decision you could at the time. But circumstances change. And larger publishers also fail. It sounds like they treated you well. I also consider every experience both positive and negative to be opportunities to learn. We all have so much we can learn. That’s why you aren’t really back to square one. You are armed with more knowledge, experience and confidence. You can do this Hannah!

    PS: I can’t wait to have that beer with you.

    Your friend



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