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Unpublishing Vile & Blessed


A H Serrano here! If you're not new to Emergent Realms, you might remember my book Vile & Blessed from 2020. It's been a while since I've been active on any socials, but I'm emerging from the shadows today to share the story around my unpublishing news.


“Did I make a mistake...?”

On November 7, 2022, I asked myself a question in my Slack channel. Two years after I finally published the book I had been writing and rewriting and agonizing over and loving since I was fifteen, I doubted everything. And then I forgot—because that’s how my brain works. 


Fast forward another two-ish years and the landscape is bleak. Full transparency: my book could have done better. There’s no sugar-coating it, and I’m not afraid of the reality of it. I didn’t sell enough to cover the costs of publishing it, and it’s gone nearly four years with no sequel.


Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post of lament. Life happens. People struggle. I’m still struggling. 


Looking back, ten days after having a baby was probably not the peak time to publish a book, but I had this gnawing anxiety, this overwhelming fear that if I did not publish my book right that second, I would be failing. 


Failing what? Myself? Who knows.

 


I’ll spare you the business end of what happened, but it led me to a place I swore I’d never go back to… 


“I might need to rewrite my book…”

I do wonder what went through Jim’s mind when I uttered those cursed words. He’s so understanding that I bet he didn’t even cuss me out. (I cussed me out plenty.) 


The proposition was made without any real plan behind it. I’d known for a long time that I was unhappy with my current publishing journey. I loved—and still love—my book and my characters, but I couldn’t find the right people to share it with. 


Initially, I thought I would only need a rebrand.  A fresh cover, marketing…you know, strategy. But that wasn’t all I needed…


You see, my struggles with writing came paired with a reading struggle. I couldn’t find books I devoured in a single night. DNF after DNF left me in a huge slump. Thankfully, the slump didn’t last, but when I started reading again, my tastes had changed. 


My usual reading preference—YA books—was not cutting it. I didn’t relate to the young characters in the books I picked up.

It clicked. 


I couldn’t find the right people to share my book with because I wasn’t even the right person. My book is YA. And, personally, YA isn’t enough for me anymore.


I talked with another friend about this wild conundrum (it’s not that difficult; I am difficult), and concluded that, somewhere along the way, I had written a book that I didn’t want to write.


Why did I write it, then? Simple: nostalgia.


When I first wrote Vile & Blessed, I was a fifteen-year-old sophomore. I created characters who were in my age group. They thought and acted the way I did and struggled with the things I struggled with as a confused teenager. We were all still figuring things out. 


But when I published, I was almost thirty. I didn’t—and don’t—have it all figured out, yet so much had changed. 


“I grew up, but my characters didn’t.”

My characters have been with me my entire life, but I let them stagnate while I learned and grew. There was my problem. I wanted them to be older. I wanted to write more complex stories for them. And I denied myself those things because that wasn’t how it was “supposed” to be. I’d clung to rules nobody would enforce, and now it’s time to break them. 


I wanted to smack myself upside the head when I found that Slack message.


“Did I make a mistake not aging up my characters?” 


…Yeah, I did.


So, I’m unpublishing. 


Vile & Blessed is no longer for sale. There may still be some copies on Amazon, but printing has been stopped.


If you’ve purchased, read, reviewed, or otherwise interacted with me about Vile & Blessed, thank you! I truly appreciate the time you gave to something I created. 

River and the gang will be back. They’ll be a little older, a little wiser (not Darthan—iykyk), and a lot better.


I hope that when they make their spectacular return, you’ll journey with us again.  




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