I Just Fired Myself

As you may have heard if you follow the play-by-play at Mercury Retrograde Press, I’ve made the difficult decision to shut down normal operations over there. It changes everything, and it changes nothing.

First, the nuts and bolts: as of today, Mercury Retrograde will no longer publish work other than my own. The rights in all the other books we’ve published will revert to their respective authors by January 17, 2014. I am absolutely confident that all of those authors will have rewarding careers going forward, and we have all parted amicably. But, as you may have noticed if you’re waiting for the sequel to The Shadow of the Sun, it’s grown practically impossible for me to get my own creative work done while trying to do justice to Mercury Retrograde. Something had to give.

I am very proud of the work we did at Mercury Retrograde. I remain passionately convinced that publishers who ensure quality for readers, who provide the support necessary to achieve art without sacrificing quality of life for the artists who create it, are absolutely necessary; and I see small press as the place where that can and must happen. I remain committed to helping writers, editors, and publishers achieve their visions of work that is not afraid to reach for the best it can possibly be. I will continue to edit one or two projects per year: some for self-publishing authors, others for publishers. But first, last, and in big chunks of the middle, I’ll be developing my own creative work.

Closing Mercury Retrograde has been a difficult and emotional decision for me. But I can’t express how excited I am to be coming back to my creative roots. I feel liberated by the choice; I presently anticipate finishing The Heart of Darkness in the next few weeks, and even though I’ve meant it every time I’ve said that, this time I have confidence it’s actually going to happen. Because for the first time since 2007, there isn’t someone else waiting whose creative needs outweigh my own.

Other things I’m going to work on over the course of the coming year are very nearly as exciting to me, and I’ll be talking about them as I’m able. I’ll still be participating in SF/F cons around the country, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things that can’t be conveyed on the web there. And, of course, to seeing my friends, and fangirling over artists I admire, and meeting other lovers of SF/F. Additionally, for the first time in half a decade, I’m going to:

* read books just for fun
* play more with my friends
* do more Tai Chi and yoga
* do things that aren’t even on the schedule

I may even get my many, many CDs set up in my iTunes. And buy an iPod. sssshhhh!

In short, this is the beginning of a new phase, and a new direction I’m hugely excited about. I harbor no fantasies that I’ll go down to anything like a “normal” work week, whatever that is; but I’m already having more fun than in a long time. Hang on tight, friends: this is where the real fun starts.

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15 Comments on “I Just Fired Myself”


  1. I’m sorry for those who hoped to publish with you, but I am excited for you to begin your new life. I recently made a similar change, and wish I’d made it sooner. But maybe we only appreciate the freedom that free time brings when we haven’t had it for a while. Enjoy!


    • Thank you, Marie! Knowing how many people would be disappointed by the choice was the thing that made the decision difficult. It made me hold off far longer than was right for me, because every time the thought crossed my mind, the rest of me would shout it down. Finally, this month, the realization that something simply had to give made it easier to take the step.

      I think you’re right: we appreciate freedom far more when deprived of it. Even if that deprivation is self-inflicted.


  2. […] As some of you may have already heard, my publisher of the last five years, Mercury Retrograde Press, is going to close the doors in January 2014. The official announcement is here, and a more personal explanation by Barbara Friend Ish is here. […]

  3. N Sellars Says:

    Barbara, I’m glad people like you are around to publish good writers. But I understand running a business, let alone a publishing company, requires twice as much work as a regular job and eats into your family time, your ‘me’ time, and can drastically affect your health. My publisher, Frank Hall of Hydra Publications, also recently faced and made the same painful decision you have made. But it’s folks like you and Frank who help keep the rest of writing, knowing that someone out there likes our work.

  4. Allen Wold Says:

    …and just when I’m getting started…


  5. Good for you to take control for yourself and your Muse. Sending energy to you for your writing and for all your former clients to find the best and highest place for their work.

  6. Amy Says:

    I’m sorry to hear the news about the press but a congratulations seems to be in order on the creative side. Sometimes, we have to let go to gain focus. Those decisions are never easy, but once made, they can be the best decisions we make. (Something I’m learning in my own yoga practice. :))

    Good luck with the writing and I’m looking forward to the next book.


    • Thank you, Amy! I think all creative people can easily succumb to the “too many top priorities” problem. I’ve practically made it into an art. But you’re right: the magic is often in letting things go.

      I truly appreciate your support. I’m looking forward to sharing the next one with you. I think it’s a much better book.

  7. lynnsbooks Says:

    Wow, that must have been such a tough decision for you but clearly sometimes you need to make that step in order to focus on something in the way that’s needed.
    Good luck with everything. I’ll be watching your blogs for more news.
    Lynn :D


    • Thank you, Lynne! Like so many life-changing decisions, it was the part leading up to the change that was hardest. I’m excited to begin the next phase. I truly appreciate your kind thoughts!


  8. […] As some of you may have already heard, my publisher of the last five years, Mercury Retrograde Press, is going to close the doors in January 2014. The official announcement is here, and a more personal explanation by Barbara Friend Ish is here. […]


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