Amira Press is a small e-publisher focusing mainly on interracial romances. They gave a ton of authors (some now quite well-known) their first chance at e-books. They gave me a chance, too. A Greater Art was published by Amira Press in 2008.
Last week I discovered that the publisher was dead and gone.
The e-book romance world has changed a lot since 2008. And so have I. I've since learned more about contracts and marketing and, most of all, resilience and stamina in the face of disappointment.
Amira sent me a contract within weeks of my submission. Today I'd probably view a rapid response as a red flag. Back then I was thrilled. Though the editing was light, I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with my editor. I think we ended up with a pretty good story.
Creating the cover was an experience and a half. The artist was clearly talented. The covers she'd created for own fiction were fabulous. I was optimistic until the artist told me to gather my own images from a photo subscription site. I spent days searching the site for acceptable romantic science fiction-y photos. When I had gathered some photos, I asked the artist if she could change my hero's white t-shirt to blue to reflect the story. No go. She couldn't. She explained that she "tried" to change the color, but it didn't "take". What? The hero's shirt was suddenly actual cotton fabric and the color a chemical dye? Oh well. No sense whining. Next she asked me to approve the "mockup." I assumed that mockup would be adjusted to be more cohesive. You know, with all images having the same lighting.
Here's the mockup:
And here's the final product: Please note that the strange pink dye did "take" on the couple's skin.
I believe cover art is integral to the success of a story, and this cover sucked. I marketed it anyway. I hustled to get reviews. Eight years ago, e-books were more of a rarity, so I was successful in getting reviews. Getting review traction is a lot harder today, even when published by high prestige e-publishers. As part of my hustle, I entered my e-book in the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition contest. I won an EPPIE for best science fiction romance in 2009.
I got a beautiful engraved trophy for A Greater Art.
I still keep the trophy close by as I work on new stories.
I let Amira Press know about my win, expecting they would be as proud as I was, and announce it on their website. They did not. No pat on the back of any kind. I did, however, get a cc of an e-mail the publisher sent to EPIC thanking them for the award. Amira had let me down.
When my contract with Amira Press expired, I asked for my rights back. Thanks to Amira's author-friendly contract terms, it was easy. I lucked out. I also lucked out that this book, edited and retitled Lesserblood Lies, was ultimately published by Carina Press in 2011. It's also available on audible. Take a look at this cover!