Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Let It Bleed - the long story

As I mentioned yesterday, "Let It Bleed" is having a "soft release" to WVMP Street Teamers tonight. It will be available on its brand-new web page next Tuesday, June 26, as a free download in all major ebook formats. Yay!

EDITED TO ADD: And here it is!

It's been a long journey, and it's high time I told the story of that journey. You've waited approximately forever, so I owe you that much.


January 2010: I start writing Let It Bleed the novel, fourth in my WVMP Radio urban fantasy series, a series I'd planned to be five books, finishing with Lust for Life.

Spring and Summer 2010: I fit Let It Bleed around my schedule for Shift and two anthology stories, since it's not due until October.

October 2010: I finish Let It Bleed and turn it in to my editor. Like all rough drafts, it has major problems, but I think I know how to fix them.

November 2010: I start planning the revisions. I download Scrivener and become a HIGHLY  ORGANIZED INDIVIDUAL. What with page proofs for Shift and the proposal for Shine, I haven't actually started writing the new version of Let It Bleed, but it's cool--my editor still hasn't read it yet, and besides, I definitely know how to fix it.

Early December 2010: I get a revision letter from my editor that says, basically, "I know you like to do massive rewrites, so maybe you should just tell me how you plan to fix this, and I'll comment on your ideas." Yeah, the rough draft isn't even worth editing--it was THAT BAD. But it's okay--I know how to fix it! My editor loves my ideas and gives me helpful suggestions, because she is awesome and patient and knows how I work.

Mid-December 2010: I turn in the proposal for Book 5, Lust for Life, which has the perfect ending for the series. Happily ever after for Shane and Ciara! Woo-hoo!

Early January 2011: It turns out, I do not know how to fix Let It Bleed. The rewrite is a giant mess. The book has too many subplots, too many antagonists, and the story is ultimately just a bridge between the Big Event of Bring on the Night and the Even Bigger Event of Lust for Life. The story doesn't hang together, and there's nothing I can do to fix it. I consider running away to New Zealand.

Late January 2011: Let it Bleed the novel is a failure. It just. doesn't. work. Sometimes this happens. If you're a writer and it has never happened to you, just wait.

February 2011: My agent tells me that my publisher has turned down my proposal for Lust for Life,  due to the series' sales numbers. There will be no fifth book. There will be no happy ending. Unless I do something drastic, my favorite series ever will end with a hot mess of a novel with a bittersweet conclusion.

I do something drastic.

The first sentence out of my mouth after "Ohhhhhh shooooooot." (only I didn't say, "shoot.") is this:

"Hey! What if I take the plot for Book 5 and make it Book 4, then boil down what was Book 4 into a novella, Book 3.5? Then the characters and the readers still get the wonderful ending they deserve. Plus, this unsalvageable novel becomes an excellent novella!"

Yes, I said to her, I understand that this means essentially writing an entire novel for my publisher FOR FREE. (Imagine telling your boss you'll gladly work for six to eight months for no pay, just for the chance to do your job right.)

Luckily, Pocket was happy to let me make this unorthodox move. They changed the title and publication date for Book 4 from Let it Bleed and Summer 2011 to Lust for Life and Fall 2012.

The Rest of 2011 through May 2012: Between contracted projects (Shine and Lust for Life), I convert Let it Bleed the novel into "Let It Bleed" the novella. I attempt to serialize it on my website, but delays make this very cool idea unworkable. I receive angry emails from WVMP readers who think I've forgotten them.

I continue to work on it when I can, ripping out subplots, characters, needless meanderings--all the crap that didn't work in the novel form. It  turns out to be much, much harder than I thought. I get stuck on Chapter Nine for about six months.

The delay is fortuitous, though! Because once I start writing Lust for Life--and more important, rewriting Lust for Life--I have a grand epiphany on how to end "Let It Bleed." Woo-hoo!

June 2012 (Hey, that's now!): I put the finishing touches on "Let It Bleed," my beta readers love it, and finally, after years of pulling my hair out and cursing its very existence...I love it, too.


There you go, the sordid saga of "Let it Bleed." It's been one of the hardest struggles of my career. I almost shed a tear just typing this up. It wasn't easy putting readers off time after time and not being able to explain the delays.

But now at last you know, I did it all so that you and Ciara could have the ending you deserved, and have it in print.

So I hope that when you read "Let It Bleed" (either this week if you're on the Street Team or next week if not),  and when Lust for Life releases on November 27, you'll agree they were worth the wait.

I think they are.


Once again, if you'd like to be notified when "Let It Bleed" is available on the website for download (next Tuesday, June 26), sign up using this sweet button:

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You are always such an inspiration, Jeri. I DID shed a tear! <3

Posted by: Blogger Myra McEntire at 6/19/2012 9:43 PM

Wow - thank you so much for your dedication. To your books, to your publisher but most of all to US, your readers. This is just a drop in the bucket of reasons why I'm so glad to have stumbled upon your work. I can't imagine how difficult this process must have been (just reading about it was enough :/), but I have no doubt that the conclusion to this series will be absolutely perfect. LOVE THESE BOOKS! :D

Posted by: Blogger Janette at 6/19/2012 9:46 PM

Your readers love you!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 6/19/2012 9:47 PM

your readers DO love you!! and im so excited that LET IT BLEED comes out on my birthday!!! :) this is my favourite series of books ever and you are the awesomest! :) <3 <3 <3 :)

Posted by: Blogger Jennzah at 6/19/2012 9:50 PM

Thanks Jeri. I'm sure it will be well worth the wait. Your books are at the top of my all-time faves list.
Now that I know Lust for Life will be the final book of the series you've got me wondering what you'll be bringing us next! :)

Posted by: Blogger smj587 at 6/19/2012 9:52 PM

I'm honored that you take the story, and the readers, so personally, and that you work so hard for both of us. The right road is seldom the easy road, thanks for making the tough choices. I know we'll love how it all works out!!


Posted by: Blogger Jennifer at 6/19/2012 10:03 PM

Talk about a labor of love! I'm sorry that you had such a difficult time with this process. Your perseverance and hard work always show through your writing, and I hope you know that! We love you, Jeri <3 Congrats on the almost-completion of WVMP. Cannot wait to see what you have in store for us next!

Posted by: Blogger Marissa at 6/19/2012 10:04 PM

2 words Jeri. You rock. Well, let's make it 3. We love you!

Posted by: Blogger Kimberly Callegan at 6/19/2012 10:04 PM

Wow. Thank you for not giving up on it. I love all your stories and characters. I know that if you wrote it, I will love it. Can't wait for Let it Bleed and Lust for Life and for all the books and characters that you have yet to write.

Posted by: Blogger cristina at 6/19/2012 10:08 PM

Thank you so much for all you do for your readers. You're one of a kind!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 6/19/2012 10:13 PM

Ohhhh, Jeri. I know exactly how that feels. I had what I was sure was a wonderful book four and five for one of my series, I just needed to figure out revisions, and they ended up becoming something like book fourfive, because they got smashed into one book due to numbers/too much plot in one, not enough in the other. I know you're going to rock out with your metaphorical cock out on these two books. Because you have dark and formidable powers.

Posted by: Blogger Jenny Trout at 6/19/2012 10:55 PM

While you can never please everyone letting us know you were having problems might have made it go down smoother. It felt more like we were forgotten in favor of all things Shine. While it is understandable you have to promote your (at the time) new series to me at least it still felt like our love of this series meant nothing.

Still it is nice to know what happened and what you had to go through to give both you and us the right conclusion to the series.

Thank you very much.

Posted by: Blogger Sorwen at 6/20/2012 10:23 AM

Aw, you guys, thank you all for your supportive comments! It really means a lot to me.

Jennifer A.--"dark and formidable powers"---shhh, no one's supposed to know about those! :-D Sorry it happened to you, too. In genre fiction we're expected to keep to a very regular schedule, and if we encounter creative issues, it throws that schedule into chaos, and we risk getting a reputation for being unreliable.

Sorwen: It was never the case that you were forgotten. Please, this is my favorite series! Maybe I should have written this post a year ago, but do you have any idea how hard it is to come out and admit failure in this business? We're expected to keep a happy face at all times and project success, success, success! Not to mention stick to a demanding schedule even when things aren't working. Even now I worry that a prospective editor will read this and put me on their mental list of "authors never to acquire."

The thing is, the human brain is not a machine. If it were, it wouldn't create books and music and poetry.

Whether out of shame or just professional pride, I wanted my explanation/admission of difficulty to be accompanied by the final fruits of my labor. I wanted to show people, especially other writers, that even though setbacks happen, you can overcome them when you adapt your goals and think outside the box.

The SHADE series never took priority over WVMP, but when I sign a contract to turn in a book, that *does* take priority over any self-publishing venture like "Let It Bleed." On the other side, finishing LUST FOR LIFE for my publisher takes precedence over my SHADE tie-in novella, "Shattered," which I'm self-publishing later this summer, as I can fit it in around my contractual obligations.

Your love of this series means a lot to me, and it hurts me deeply to hear that you felt that way.

OK, I have to hit "publish comment" now or I really will start crying.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 6/20/2012 11:27 AM

Basically: you are awesome. Never doubt that!

I am a late convert to this series, but I never once doubted your passion for these books and the characters within it. Thank you so much for your commitment to the series and to your readers.


Posted by: Blogger Ashley @ Book Labyrinth at 6/20/2012 12:03 PM

While yes it is a business that is dictated by sales as long as people love what you do never ever let yourself think you've failed. Also while it is a business remember your customers are people. While anything done might meet with a negative comment we are people and can understand when even writers have problems. It doesn't mean you have to share ever moment you have a problem, but if you do clue us in, a little at least, I'm sure you will find many more of us that are understanding.

And it wasn't a lie I'm am truly grateful you went to bat for us and your book to get that ending and won. For that I thank you very much. There are a few authors I've read that were not able to even get that concession. It means a lot that we get that opportunity at closure to the series. Again, thank you.

This is of course from the outside looking in, but I know a few last books that didn't even get the chance because the publisher decided to give up even before the end(retailers shorted print copies and eBook releases limited/ignored/delayed for 6 months or more).

Posted by: Blogger Sorwen at 6/20/2012 12:49 PM

Thanks, Sorwen, I really appreciate that! <3

You're right--a lot of series get cut off before the end, which is what I was trying to avoid. I feel lucky that Pocket was willing to let me trade out LUST FOR LIFE for LET IT BLEED in my contract. They know better than anyone how a series can lose momentum if the installments are spaced too far apart. But at every step they've been fabulous about letting me do what's best for the series and characters.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 6/20/2012 1:19 PM

This is one of the thing why we LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Blogger Lis at 6/20/2012 2:09 PM

I know how hard this has been for you, Jeri, but as one of those lucky beta readers I can say to you and to everyone, THE WAIT IS WORTH IT. What you did to wrap up the series in the way you meant it to be for your characters and readers is incredible! I can't wait to download my ecopy of LIB and hold my print copy of LFL in my hands this fall. This is one of my favorite series EVER, thanks for giving the readers the chance to experience Ciara's full journey.

Posted by: Blogger Stephanie Kuehnert at 6/20/2012 4:48 PM

Loved it! Well worth the wait!

Posted by: Blogger Claire at 6/21/2012 12:03 PM

Aw, thanks, Lis--I love you, too!

Stephanie, thanks for being there through all the angst. You're the best.

Claire: Yay, I'm so happy you loved it!

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 6/21/2012 4:22 PM

Wow. Thank you so much for all that extra work and sticking with it. The series just kept getting better and I'll admit to worrying when I hadn't received anything for while. (No angry letters from me though!) I'm excited we'll definitely be able to journey to the end with Ciara, Shane and the gang. Much love x

Posted by: Blogger Arch Vagabond at 6/27/2012 1:06 PM

Can anyone tell me what happened to the rest of Let It Bleed? I don't see the link for chapter 9!!! I'm in a panic. When I start to read one of Jeri's books, the world stops revolving until I'm done. That's just how it goes. HELP!!! PLEASE!!!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 7/11/2012 3:21 AM

Jay, the full and final version of the novella is here for download:


Sorry for any confusion. When I wrote this blog post, I didI put a link to this page, but I should revise it to make it more obvious. Thanks!

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 7/11/2012 9:55 AM

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Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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